As an inexperienced sailor who is getting ready to take on a sailboat project
, I have been thinking about the safety
aspects of boat ownership
and cruising. I came up with a list of items that could reduce the dangers involved through proper planning, execution and maintenance
. I would like to get input on the list and ideas of what is missing or overstated.
Some of the items on my draft
list could be consolidated (plumbing) but they reflect my current research
on systems as I prepare to finish a custom built boat
and take it to sea. Without further ado, here is my Boating Safety
list, Mark 1...
Boating Safety through planning
(83% of fatalities). Stay on the boat; wear a pfd
, use jacklines
, tethers and harnesses as a system properly sized for the boat when appropriate. Plan ahead and know you can get back on board.
Carefully inspect through hulls at every haul out
. Upgrade if they seem degraded or poor quality. Use only high quality fittings. Test seacocks regularly and replace if in doubt. Lubricate if they are the type that can be lubricated.
system for degraded hoses, hose fittings, check valves where appropriate and of proper type and installation
Check toilets and sink drains for proper design and installation
Check for risers where necessary in all plumbing
Check bilge pump
capacity and redundancy. Are two smaller ones better than one larger pump
? (2 Rule
1500’s versus 1 Rule
3500?) Would it make sense to have a secondary automatic pump
a little higher in the bilge
that the primary?
When calculating pump capacity remember to reduce by 50% for risers.
Keep bilges clean and pump wiring
high water alarm
Check that pumps will stay operational even with DC main breaker off.
Make sure battery
capacity is adequate and condition is good.
Install and inspect smoke detectors (and carbon monoxide detector).
Install properly sized fire extinguishers, inspect and know how to use them.
Inspect electrical wiring
system and correct any deficiencies.
system hoses and pressure test using built in gauge.
regularly (how often?) using a checklist.
Maintain your engine
system and starting system properly.
Plans are nothing, planning is everything (Dwight D. Eisenhower). It’s not enough to make a plan and stick it in a drawer somewhere. Planning is an ongoing process and an integral part of safety onboard. Think about what could happen and what your response and crew response should be to that event. Safety is a mindset.
Cultivate common sense.
Learn to sail! Cruising sailboats have two propulsion
methods, but if your sails
are down you are reduced to one. If your “Iron Genny” fails at the wrong time, you may have a problem.
. There is a tremendous body of knowledge available and it is better to learn from others mistakes
Have the right safety equipment
for your intended use. Offshore
areas require a higher standard of equipment
and planning than coastal cruising in popular waters.
Alcohol: There is a time and place for everything (Ok, one of my favorite time and places
). Remember you are responsible for your boat, everyone on it, and the people around you.
Know how to anchor
for the bottom conditions, sea condition, tidal influences and weather
, use the best anchor
or anchors for the conditions and ensure they are set properly.