Safety & Equipment

Safety and equipment

Safety is the overriding concern of all of our sailing operations

Ocean Youth Trust Scotland places the highest priority on the wellbeing of crewmembers and staff sailing aboard its vessel. This is clearly demonstrated by the exceptionally high standards set by the organisation and it’s exemplary safety record spanning more than 30 years of operation.

The Trust operates its vessels according to regulations laid down by the Department for Transport, Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) and ‘The Safety of Small Commercial Sailing Vessels – Code of Practice’. This code regulates the safety requirements for the vessels and crew of commercial operations. The MCA enforce the code through close monitoring, inspections and investigations.


OYTS vessels are designed, constructed, equipped and maintained to standards over and above those set out by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, and are more than capable of offshore and world-wide operation.

Each vessel is a self-contained unit, and if need be, is capable of surviving in extreme conditions for extended periods. They are comprehensively equipped to deal with all foreseeable emergency situations.

To ensure continued compliance with the MCA Code of Practice, annual inspections are carried out by a Department of Transport approved independent Surveyor.

A comprehensive safety briefing is carried out with each new crew before the vessel leaves port, and a man overboard and fire drill are performed at the start of each voyage.

Personal Protective Equipment

For every person on the vessel, OYTS provides the following (and carries spares):

  • An automatically inflating lifejacket and safety harness.
  • Lifejackets are worn at all times on OYT vessels when crews are on deck, and each crewmember stores their lifejacket by their own bunk for ease of use. Safety harnesses are used to attach crewmembers to the vessel, and these are used whenever conditions or the Skipper dictates, and when crewmembers themselves feel they wish the reassurance of clipping on.
  • Waterproof Clothing (Oilskin)
  • Heavy-duty sailing jacket and salopettes to protect from wind and weather.
  • (Salopettes are also worn when on cooking duty in the galley to prevent burns).
  • Thermal Protective Aids
  • Worn in the life raft in the event of abandonment to prevent hypothermia.

First Aid

Medical stores are carried in accordance with The Merchant Shipping (Medical Stores) Regulations 1986, SI 1986 No.144 (as amended). These dictate a comprehensive first aid kit exceeding all land-based requirements of the Health and Safety Executive.

These regulations override any land-based legislation while the vessel is at sea. Given the potential extended evacuation times from a vessel at sea, the kit includes prescribed drugs, which may be administered by qualified sea staff on board the vessel in accordance with the above regulations.

OYT Scotland Skippers hold the DTp Ship Captains Medical Training Certificate, while first mates hold DTp First Aid at Sea Certificates (equivalent to HSE first aid in the work place, specific to the sea going environment and the first aid kit carried).

Voyage planning

The individual area of operation for each voyage varies according to the sailing programme and the current weather conditions. The skipper will plan the overall voyage and each leg of it taking into account the weather forecast and the capabilities of the young people on board. It is not possible to state, in advance, the itinerary of a particular voyage, however the Skipper reports the position of the vessel daily to both the Coastguard and OYT Scotland office.


Vessels are equipped with ship to shore radios on both VHF frequencies for short range and MF/HF frequencies giving world-wide capabilities. A satellite Communication system, Inmarsat C+, allows text messaging 24 hours per day with world wide coverage.

These radios provide voice communication to other vessels and shore based Coastguard agencies. In the event of an emergency, radio procedures are in place to demand priority communication to the Coastguard’s co-ordinating rescue operations. Approved medical advice is also available by radio if required.In addition to these voice communications each vessel is also equipped with Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacons – which identify the vessels and their position anywhere in the world in the event of an emergency, and pass that information to search and rescue authorities.

There is also a mobile phone carried on board for routine communication between the OYT Scotland office and the vessel. This phone number is not publicly available for general enquiries. The use of personal mobile phones by crew- members is only allowed on board with the skipper’s permission, as this can interfere with the ships navigational instruments and radar, and can disrupt the routines of on board life.

For legitimate enquiries regarding safety or urgent messages from next of kin, OYTS has a 24 hour emergency paging service – 07623 912543. Please remember to leave a name and telephone number to allow OYT Scotland staff to return your call.

OYTS maintains a dedicated vessel monitoring system (Vessel Monitoring) that logs vessel movements and checks on the safety of the vessel on a daily basis. Our vessels’ positions are updated on the OYT Scotland website at least 4 times per day. This system also allows the vessel to contact shore-based OYTS staff 24 hours a day should an urgent situation arise.

Medical Conditions and Disabilities

Individuals with medical conditions or disabilities are welcome to sail with OYT Scotland providing they have approval from a certified doctor and are physically able to move around the vessel and participate in shipboard activities. We regret that our vessels do not have facilities for wheelchairs. We welcome pre-voyage visits to our vessels to allow people to assess their own capabilities onboard.

If you require further information or wish to discuss any aspect of OYTS operations please do not hesitate to contact the Operations Manager who is responsible for the safe operation of OYTS vessels.

Young People Leaving the Vessel

Every effort is made to ensure that young people are able to enjoy their experience onboard an OYT Scotland vessel. However in the event that a young person requests to leave the vessel, or in the situation where the behaviour of the individual is compromising both the safety and the enjoyment of the remaining crew, the following procedure will take place:

  • The contact for the young person will be called and informed of the reason why they are leaving the vessel. The young person will be accompanied home, if under 16, by a member of the OYT Scotland sea-staff or by the group leader accompanying the group.

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Ocean Youth Trust Scotland
Victoria House, 5 East Blackhall Street, Greenock, PA15 1HD
Tel: +44 (0) 1475 722 722

Registered Charity, No. SC029531