The sea is safe, if you follow the rules

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 19 August, 1997, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 19 August, 1997, 12:00am

The recent spate of accidents at sea has called marine safety measures into question. But mariners say that with just a few precautions, a trip on the sea can be a safe and rewarding experience. Wong Kam-chan, 52, who has spent his life on boats, is one of those. Born into a sea-loving family, he grew up in Aberdeen and was sailing a boat by the age of 10. For the past four years he has captained the 2nd Edition, a luxury cruiser docked at the Aberdeen Marina Club. Wong has a wife and four children.

What's on your mind? The recent deaths of seven Hong Kong tourists in Manila Bay and Sunday's accident off Tai Long Wan in which a 16-year-old boy was killed have prompted me to think about sea safety. People were not careful enough. On larger boats, every person on board is supposed to have a life-jacket. There is also supposed to be a life ring for every four people.

What should a captain do to ensure the safety of his passengers? Rule number one is never to overload. Every passenger must have a life-jacket available to him. There must also be two crew members - one to drive the boat and the other to take care of the passengers.

What can the passenger do to ensure his own safety? Find a good seat, not near the edge, and stay in your seat. If the boat is sailing, don't walk around the side. If there is a child on board and he can't swim, make sure he has a life-jacket. Don't go out if the weather is very bad.

Have you had any frightening experiences at sea? Nothing too bad. Once I was out when the weather turned nasty very quickly. There was heavy rain and lightning so I had to slow down and drive carefully.

What happens when there is a typhoon? When there is a typhoon warning we have to tie up the boat. When there is No 3 typhoon warning the marina says we have to stay on the boat, so we cannot go home.