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Tender Safety

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tender-safetyGreat little things tenders, they allow one to get to the shore for all manner of things, including “light refreshments”. Used sensibly they are a great aid to enjoying your boating even more.

However like all great things there are a few small things to consider:

  • If it’s an inflatable, pump it up correctly. Best of all use a pressure gauge, if you don’t have one, then fairly firm, but remember in hot sunshine the pressure will increase as the air gets hot. Rarely do they have pressure relief valves so be careful and don’t be afraid to let some air out, then just pump it up again later.
  • Make sure it is bailed out before use, especially if a solid tender rather than an inflatable. Some have a false floor, which allows the water to be unseen and forgotten. Any water if left unchecked can give a free surface effect and make it unstable, so it’s best to bail it out!
  • Don’t overload it, all too tempting when you come back with loads of shopping but it will have a weight plate on it for a reason.
  • Lifejackets or buoyancy aids are very sensible; if you do fall out or capsize it then at least you will float. Sadly more people seem to have accidents in tenders than bigger craft as when near the shore people tend to assume it’s safe.
  • Remember the bung, many now have a small self draining bung in the stern, if yours has a traditional bung then don’t forget to fit it!
  • If using an outboard then be careful not to overpower the tender, so use an engine size in line with the manufacturer’s recommendations.
  • Small outboards need engine checks just like their bigger cousins, sadly often neglected so the engine becomes unreliable.
  • Petrol does not store well, so empty the tank after use.
  • Make sure the painter is shorter than the boat, or if you drop it in the water it will almost certainly wrap itself around the prop and disable you.
  • Wear the kill cord – it can’t be stressed enough, on all craft, even small craft with a tiller steer, I find around the leg the simplest and easiest.
  • Have a small grab bag with anything important in, so much more sensible than losing phones, keys etc., I have lost all of the them over the years.
  • Spare fuel may well be needed, many small outboards with fuel on the top of the engine don’t hold very much, and remember the oars, Murphy’s law says you won’t have packed them when the engine dies!
  • How will you call for help? A small waterproof VHF makes perfect sense and can be used for other duties as well. Flares if further afield may be worthwhile or your mobile phone kept in a waterproof case.
  • Last of all do remember the wind and tide, a small tender is just as affected as a larger boat, and if rowing, it will be much harder work.
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