Ferry Safety Drill – An important part of orientation

Congratulations to all of our students for being outstanding participants at the Fishers Island Ferry Safety Drill that was conducted this week. We also appreciate our ferry crew members for taking the time out of their day to work with our students and ensure safe travels! ~ Fishers Island School

In early fall of each year, the Fishers Island Ferry District schedules the annual safety orientation with Fishers Island School – as it has for the last several years.

Thursday, September 14, the Ferry crew brought Munnatawket to Silver Eel Cove for the ferry safety orientation.

The students and teachers took turns touring the ferry, learning all the safety features, what to do in an emergency, and having their questions and concerns answered. (Click any photo for a larger image or to view as a slideshow.)

The information Captain Jon Haney and his crew (Marine Operations Manager RJ Burns, and Captain John Morgan and Captain Chris Newell, Ryan Healey and Xavier Jones) covered during the safety orientation is relevant to all passengers:

INTRODUCTION: Brief background about the crew, their past experiences and jobs, and length of employment with the ferry.

FIFD MISSION: To provide safe transportation for all passengers to and from Fishers Island.

Jon Haney pointed out where all the life vests are stored onboard. Always in marked yellow boxes, the Munnatawket’s jackets are in the yellow box seats around the perimeter of the passenger cabin. Race Point jackets are on the passenger deck at the top of the stairs coming from the vehicle deck, on the bow deck under the windows, and on the top deck under the pilot house stairs.

All boxes are marked child or adult. He explained to the students that Coast Guard regulations state those under 90 pounds are to wear child vests and those over, the adult vests. Each student donned a vest and learned how to fasten it properly.

If one is unsure of how to fasten a life jacket, instruction placards are posted in several places on each ferry, or one may ask the purser to assist.

Life Boats and Life Floats are located on the decks and will be deployed by the crew. There are two types:

Ferry-Safety-Drill-29Sep2015-JTAhrens-2141-660sqLife Boats (IBAs) are located on the rear deck of each ferry in white cases on special brackets. The straps break when they reach the water and can hold up to 50 people each. IBA’s (Inflatable Buoyant Apparatus) operate based on the pressure exerted on the “painter” line (either by water pressure as they sink with the boat or by manual/ human pressure). The IBA floats at the surface while the boat sinks pulling out the 90′ painter line until it activates a CO2 canister inside the shell that inflates the raft inside which busts the straps holding the shell together. On the Race Point they are located on the Sun Deck when you come up the stairwell from the Passenger Deck. On the Munnatawket, they are on the Hurricane (top) deck.

Ferry-Safety-Drill-29Sep2015-JTAhrens-3941-660sqLife Floats are the orange rectangular type that have net bottoms and float off the boat if water reaches them. They can also be thrown overboard. Small children and elderly or disabled should get inside the float and others should hold onto the sides of this device.

Ferry-Safety-Drill-29Sep2015-JTAhrens-3541-660sqLife Rings are located in various places on each deck. Passengers and crew can throw them overboard should someone be in the water. Life rings are equipped with an M.O.B (Man Overboard) strobe which activates when it hits the water and “rights” itself enabling the battery points to make contact and flash.

Life Hook, a large U-shaped hook on the end of a long pole is located on the vehicle deck and used should someone or something fall overboard.

The students and teachers were invited to the bridge (also referred to as the pilot house) by Captain John Morgan and Captain Chris Newell and were shown how the captains utilize the Radars, Plotters, Compass, Radios, VHF, and the Security cameras on board as well as the anchor on the bow.

The crew discussed several safety issues and reminders:

Rough Weather – The captains and crew determine if the boats are safe to run in rough weather, always mindful of the safety of passengers and their crew, especially when dealing with lines outside on the decks.

Climbing on fixtures – This is never allowed. Feet should be firmly planted on the floor.

Other Passengers – If one should find themselves feeling uncomfortable or feeling threatened by any other passenger they should alert the crew, and/or in the students’ case, their teachers and accompanying adults. The crew should always be notified as soon as possible to the situation can be handled.

Hazardous areas onboard – The vehicle deck and the bow of each ferry are areas where passengers should not tread. They can become slippery and items can shift while at sea.

Secure Areas – The bridge and engine room are strictly off-limits to passengers, or by invitation only.

Points of Contact – Ferry personnel are always available to assist and can be found on the passenger deck while the boat is underway, usually in the purser’s office.

Parking Lot – Vehicle traffic including large trucks are always part of the ferry trips. Passengers should be aware and stay in specified areas including the sidewalks and yellow walkways designated on the ferry ramps.

Man Overboard – In the unlikely instance that this should happen, yell, scream and otherwise let the captain and crew know as soon as possible!

Suspicious Activity – Packages/actions. As they say, “If you see something, say something!”


  • Clean up after yourself (snacks, drinks, papers…lost and found). Garbage and recycle receptacles are provided on both ferries. Please use them.
  • The Lost and Found on the Race Point is on top of the soda machine. More valuable items are kept inside the purser’s office or handed into the New London terminal ticket desk. Munnatawket’s Lost and Found is in the purser’s office on the passenger area.
  • No running, period.
  • Walk in designated areas (yellow walkways and sidewalk)
  • Always ask a crew member if you are unclear about something. They are onboard to help.
  • Being on time for the ferry departures helps us keep a schedule and prevents accidents (slips, trips, and falls).

Perhaps the whole island knew the ferry drill was going on September 30th – as we all know, “You are never too young or too old to blow the horn!”

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