At Morvargh, we genuinely believe that the safety and well-being of the young people entrusted to our care is paramount. We understand the responsibility of providing transformative sailing experiences for children, and we want to assure parents, teachers and group leaders that we prioritise their safety above all else.
We recognise that effective risk management is not just a legal obligation but a moral imperative for the welfare of the children who embark on these exhilarating adventures. As a Project, we have implemented procedures and best practices to identify, assess, and mitigate potential risks.
Our safety protocols are designed to be proactive and comprehensive, encompassing every aspect of our operations, from vessel maintenance and crew training to emergency response procedures. We believe in creating an environment where learning and growth can occur without compromising the safety and security of our participants.
We understand the trust you place in us when sending or referring your child or students to experience the wonders of the sea. We want to assure you that our commitment to safety goes beyond compliance—it is ingrained in the core values of our organisation.
Our Safety Management System
A Safety Management System (SMS) is a structured framework that organisations use to manage safety and minimise risks proactively. It involves a set of policies, procedures, practices, and risk assessments designed to identify, assess, and control potential hazards within an operation.
An SMS aims to create a systematic and continuous approach to safety, ensuring that all aspects of an organisation's activities are conducted in a way that prioritises the well-being of individuals and the prevention of accidents. It helps establish a safety culture, promote accountability, and improve safety performance.
Although a set of disparate documents, it combines these into one cohesive whole, which we then use when sailing the boat. From boat operations to volunteer training, there are methods, policies and procedures for almost all of Morvargh’s operations.
Licencing & Auditing
In addition to our Safety Management System, our vessel and operations are audited by the Royal Yachting Association (RYA) on behalf of the Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA) and the Association of Sail Training Organisations (ASTO) annually, with a more thorough out-of-water survey performed every five years. The surveyor visits the vessel, checks all our service certificates, reviews policies, and generally gives the boat a good inspection whilst in the water. Every five years, this becomes a major out-of-water inspection; think of it like a boat MOT but ten times more in-depth!
The annual RYA/MCA inspections follow the Small Commercial Vessel (SCV) code of practice. The codes of practice detail the equipment a vessel must have onboard, the standards and specifications of the vessel's equipment and the competency & qualification requirements of the skipper and crew of the vessel. The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) Codes of Practice for Small Commercial Vessels (SCV) is your guarantee that the boat is sound, well found and equipped with the appropriate safety gear, all in working order.
In 2024, we will also be inspected under the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC) and International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL) to enable travel to destinations outside of UK waters.
You may have heard about the Adventure Activities Licencing Authority (AALA) licence that some outdoor centres require. We do not hold this licence as the MCA Small Commercial Vessel coding is senior legislation and stricter than the AALA licence.
We fully understand that embarking on a voyage can raise concerns for parents, teachers, and young participants. We, therefore, would like to extend an invitation to arrange a preview visit to the boat to address any apprehensions and provide a firsthand experience of our commitment to safety. This opportunity allows you to meet with some of our experienced crew members, explore the vessel, and engage in open discussions about any aspects of concern.
We believe that seeing our operations up close and having the chance to ask questions directly can help alleviate any worries and contribute to a better understanding of the measures we have in place to ensure a secure and enriching experience for everyone involved. Your safety is our shared responsibility, and we are here to address any inquiries and provide the assurance you seek.
If you'd like to arrange a pre-visit please contact us: firstname.lastname@example.org
Qualified, Trained, & DBS Checked Staff
The volunteers and staff aboard are collectively called the Afterguard. They are all appropriately qualified for the rank they hold aboard. The following are the requirements of each rank:
We run several Afterguard Training Weekends each year; this is an intensive weekend residential course designed to hone skills, covering essential safety drills and the operations of our vessel. This is crafted to ensure that all staff and volunteers are proficient in the latest safety protocols and well-versed in the best practices of sail training.
This approach exceeds regulatory requirements; it reflects our continuous improvement and proactive risk management ethos. We understand that the maritime environment can present unique challenges, and our staff's proficiency in handling various scenarios is paramount to the success of our adventures.
The annual training weekend is a platform for exchanging experiences and cultivating a shared commitment to safety. We run hands-on drills, scenario simulations, and expert-led sessions to ensure the Afterguard enhances their skills and strengthens their collaborative efforts. This collaborative ethos is fundamental to ensuring seamless communication and effective teamwork, essential components of a safe sailing experience.
Finally, all our staff and volunteers are vetted by the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) to check their suitability for working with young people.
Ensuring the well-being of every individual on board is a fundamental aspect of our commitment. To keep the highest safety standards, all our staff and volunteers undergo a thorough Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check, emphasising our dedication to providing a secure environment for all participants.
It's essential to note that our vessel features open dormitory-style sleeping arrangements. However, we prioritise privacy by incorporating curtained areas to facilitate changing for bed, respecting each participant's personal space and comfort.
Additionally, to maintain a clear separation between staff and young people during resting hours, our dedicated staff accommodation is situated in the Afterguard cabin, further underscoring our commitment to creating a safe and respectful environment throughout our voyages.
Seasickness & Homesickness
We understand that seasickness can be a concern for some participants, and the well-being of participants during a bout of seasickness is our top priority.
While seasickness affects individuals differently, over-the-counter medications can often provide relief. We recommend that parents send young people with a supply of seasickness medicine, but we emphasise the importance of open communication. Young participants must inform the Afterguard if they have taken any medication.
The vessel has a supply of Stugeron15 or Cinnarizine tablets aboard, which can be offered to young people. If seasickness symptoms arise during the voyage, we are well-prepared to assist. Participants are encouraged to inform our staff if they are feeling unwell, and normally a stint helming the boat helps to alleviate symptoms as they are concentrating on sailing rather than feeling sick.
It's not uncommon for homesickness to cast a shadow on a voyage for some young people, and we recognise that it takes time for young people to adjust to the unfamiliarity of being away from home. The good news is that, with time, these feelings often subside as trainees become more used to their surroundings and make meaningful connections with fellow shipmates.
In today's digital age, staying connected has never been easier. While this connectivity is impressive, it can also present challenges when managing homesickness. Young people may find themselves tempted to reach out to loved ones, expressing a desire to cut their voyage short. We understand that modern communication methods, like instant messaging, can sometimes amplify feelings of homesickness.
Rather than letting homesickness become a barrier to a transformative experience, we believe in working collaboratively with parents to alleviate these natural symptoms. Our team is adept at addressing the challenges that arise during the initial phases of a Sail Training voyage. By creating a supportive environment and encouraging communication, we can often find ways to help young trainees overcome homesickness, enabling them to embrace the adventure that lies ahead.
First Aid and Medical Emergencies
We do ask that parents provide comprehensive information about any medical issues, including undiagnosed concerns, mental health, or anxiety, at the time of applying for a place aboard. This proactive approach allows us to tailor our support and preparations to meet individual needs.
Onboard, we maintain a comprehensive first aid kit and have several qualified first aiders ready to respond to medical emergencies.
Within the passenger declaration, parents are required to agree to Afterguard giving and authorising emergency medical care when necessary. This mutual understanding ensures a swift and effective response in the rare event of a medical emergency, reinforcing our commitment to providing a safe and secure maritime experience for all.
Emergencies & Group Communications
We provide 24-hour shore cover and have clearly defined emergency procedures in place in the unlikely event of an accident. We provide a single point of contact with the vessel via our Sailing Comms WhatsApp group – this can be used if you need to contact the boat urgently; we can then arrange to contact you privately if needed.
In the unlikely event of a shipboard emergency, we may limit the young people's access to communication from the vessel to ensure you are getting correct and timely information about any incident – we will use the Sailing Comms group to send you this information.
The Coastguard has up-to-date details of our vessel, Helen Mary R (via the RYA SafeTrx app) and shore contact telephone numbers.
We use our Sailing Comms WhatsApp group to keep parents updated on our adventures and often post our plans, anecdotes, pictures, and videos of what’s happening aboard daily. Parents are welcome to use this to message us, ask questions, etc.
Prior to the commencement of a voyage, we will communicate (via email) regularly with parents and group leaders to ensure essential voyage-specific information is provided. This will include:
- An initial voyage itinerary (weather often changes this plan)
- Skipper contact details
- Emergency contact details for shoreside support
- A crew handbook to disseminate to your child or group, which includes what to pack and bring
Stay connected and follow our maritime adventures using AIS (Automatic Identification System) apps such as Marine Traffic and Vessel Finder. Parents, teachers, and group leaders can easily track our journey in real-time.
These user-friendly apps provide live updates on our vessel's location, travelled route, and surrounding marine traffic. It's an excellent way to stay informed about the voyage's progress and share this dynamic experience with those back on land.
Our website has a map of our current location, updated regularly. Alternatively, you can use Marine Traffic or Vessel Finder websites. It's important to note that their coverage depends on our proximity to shore-based receivers.
Understanding the impact weather conditions can have on a voyage is essential for ensuring the safety and comfort of all of us aboard. Adverse weather is a natural part of seafaring, and we take proactive measures to assess and respond to changing weather.
Various weather conditions, including wind, rain, and sea state, may influence the voyage. While we strive to provide a smooth and enjoyable experience, we must acknowledge that weather fluctuations can impact our planned itinerary. Our priority is the safety and well-being of everyone on board, and adjustments may be made to the schedule or route to navigate challenging conditions.
The skipper closely monitors weather forecasts, and regular updates are obtained to assess the evolving conditions, allowing us to make informed decisions about the voyage. We prioritise open communication with participants, parents, teachers, and group leaders, providing timely updates on any adjustments to the itinerary due to weather considerations. Flexibility is critical to adapting to changing conditions, and our crew is well-trained to handle diverse weather scenarios, ensuring that the voyage remains enjoyable and safe.
At Morvargh, the safety and well-being of the young people on our Sail Training voyages are paramount. From a robust Safety Management System to qualified staff, rigorous inspections, and continuous training, we are committed to creating a secure environment for transformative experiences. Our transparency, open communication channels, and proactive safety measures aim to provide peace of mind to parents, teachers, and group leaders.
We understand the importance of trust when sending your child on a maritime adventure. If you have any lingering concerns or questions, we invite you to arrange a pre-visit to the boat.