Although there are many natural hazards that confront man on land, being a land-based creature, his natural instincts allow him to cope with them most of the time. At sea the situation is different. It is not man’s natural habitat or environment and he has to learn new skills in order to survive and operate on water.

A fair number of land-lubbers (non-sailors) have under estimated the nature and power of the sea and have perished whilst operating unsuitable and ill-equipped craft on the sea. Even well-seasoned sailors have met their end as a result of the action of the sea and the weather.

If one intends making a successful career of the sea, it is necessary that a thorough knowledge and understanding of the sea and the vessels that operate on it or beneath it, is acquired. This basic knowledge and expertise is called seamanship. It encompasses many aspects and includes knowledge of:

  • the purpose, construction and stability of sea-going vessels,
  • the equipment it should carry to be able to operate safely and effectively at sea,
  • the types and usage of cordage, ropes and wires carried onboard a vessel,
  • the rules for preventing collisions at sea,
  • how to manoeuvre and operate vessels safely,
  • the nature and causes of fires at sea and the means to prevent and fight them,
  • other hazards that face the mariner, how to avoid them and how to survive them.