It’s been a long wait but many boaters are now able to get back out on the water. Whilst we all want to get straight out and enjoy this great weather it is important to remember that before heading out we should be making sure everything is ship shape and ready to go. The last thing we want is to be calling the RNLI or SeaStart out.
Life Jackets – When did you last have a close look at your life jackets? Have you done a visual inspection of the bladder, gas cylinder or light recently or ever!
VHF – Do you regularly do a radio check using your VHF? VHF Coast Guard CH67, local marina CH80, NCI CH65… Are you just relying on this most important item of emergency equipment to work when you most need it!
Nav Lights – Of course they will just work when you turn the switch on – Wont they!
RAW Water impeller – Get used to checking these periodically as an overheating engine can seriously ruin a day out on the water.
Fuel – have you checked for water or diesel bug in your fuel. Easy enough if you have RACOR type fuel filters. Otherwise, undoing the drain screw on the fuel/water separator will give you an indication of the health of your fuel.
Engine checks – Do you do routine engine checks before a day on the water or do you rely on the fact that engines were serviced by you friendly engineer. Engine checks take just a few minutes and should be done every time you take the boat out.
On Start Up – run your engines, under load, for a few minutes – does everything sound ok, smell ok, what colour is the smoke coming out of the exhaust?
Engine controls – With the engines running, engage forward and reverse gear form your helm positions; just enough, in and out, to make sure you actually have control.
Chart Plotters – When did you last check for chart updates? Can you be sure that charted objects are still where they were when you purchased the plotter.
Paper Charts – Are your paper charts up to date; can they be updated or do you need to purchase new charts.
Fresh water tanks – may have been left full or partially full for a while now and we have had some rather hot weather! Is the water safe to drink!
Spares – Have you checked your spares box for all the most common spares; impellers, filters (oil/fuel), nav lamps, fuses, coolant etc. Did your engineer service your engines using your spares that you WERE going to replace.
Ok, it’s not at exhaustive list by any means. My point is that there are a few things that you should be doing through habit. Some daily, some monthly and some yearly. Many a boater has suffered the indignity of being towed back to their marina because somethings failed, something that they could have spotted and should have checked before departure. Obviously some things just fail even when they have been checked recently but the game here is be prepared. If you have done your checks and things fail then thats life…
Last point – Saying, we’re just nipping over to Cowes is no excuse for not doing these simple checks. As the skipper of your boat it is your responsibility to go to see with a seaworthy vessel.