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Old 02-22-2008
marinedtcomRob's Avatar
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Spring Outfitting for Safety

For those of us in colder climate areas, we anxiously await the end of winter and getting back to boating. With winter winding down, it's a great time to review your boat's safety systems and be proactive with maintenance areas involving critical failure points. My thought would be for Sailnet members to get a list of ideas going here.

Last year my big safety project, after a near fire the summer before, was to gut the engine wiring and put in a new, harness, sensors, and engine panel. Every boat is unique of course. Mine is 25+ years old, so it was time to do this. Beyond this however, there are is a checklist of sorts that we should all go through. Some ideas........

Sailnet has a good article on Replacing Your Standing Rigging. If your mast is down, it's not as big a deal as you think. You can either fill out our rigging form (pdf file) or just box the rigging up (after calling us for shipping instructions) and send it to us. We'll send you a quote back for your approval. Suffice it to say we save you a LOT vs. hiring a rigger to do the job for you. Which is not to say that there's not a role for professional riggers to play, just that in many cases we can offer you a very cost effective solution to replacing your standing rigging.

Another good article to get us thinking about safety is John Rousmaniere's article, Spring Safety Measures. In this article he talks about checking out and using the lifesling and practicing with it. He also urges us to check our flares and update them and to have a method, like a storm anchor, to use to ride out a storm at sea.

I would toss out the following additional check list for consideration and hopefully for other members to add to:
  1. Most of us use inflatable life vests and with exception of the new Mustang Hydrostatic vests which have a 5 year rearm kit replacement cycle, the standard replacement cycle is every year. So, rearm your vests if you have not done so recently.
  2. If you don't have Jacklines and Tethers, consider purchasing some.
  3. If you are not replacing your standing rigging this year, be sure to clean and lube all the terminal fittings.
  4. In addition to the standard radio check, before launch if possible, clean (CRC Electronic Cleaner is recommended) the antenna and electrical connections to your VHF.
  5. Replace your EPIRB battery if needed. Replace batteries in your MOB life jacket lights / strobes.
  6. Spend some quality time with your engine. Sailing is what we love but an axillary power source that works when you need it is a safety issue. For example, replace the zinc in your heat exchanger, check all the engine wiring, replace both the primary and secondary fuel filters, do an oil change, check belts, replace the raw water impeller, check hoses and hose clamps, etc.
  7. Check your ground tackle (anchoring system).
  8. Carry a spare anchor, purchase one if you don't have one. I recommend Fortress in that they are light, strong, hold very well and break down for storage.
  9. Update your medical kit.
  10. Consider carrying a means to cut away a broken spar.
I'm sure there's a lot more, but that's what this thread is for.... What did I forget to mention?

Thanks.

Rob Proctor

Last edited by marinedtcomRob; 02-22-2008 at 03:43 PM.
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Old 02-22-2008
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In addition to what Rob lists, I'd add:

I'd recommend a Delta over a Fortress as a spare anchor. The Delta will probably set better and hold better than a Fortress, especially in shifting current/wind conditions, which will often cause the Fortress to break out.

Checking and replacing any flares that are expired is also something you should do every spring. I highly recommend that you get SOLAS grade flares rather than just USCG flares. The price difference isn't all that much but the difference in performance is phenomenal. If your current flares are SOLAS grade and expired, keep them as backup flares... they won't help with regards to USCG inspections, but most will be good far past their expiry dates, and having extras in an emergency might make a difference.

Check the batteries in the flashlights, CO detector, Propane detector on your boat. If you use propane, you should have both a propane and CO detector installed.

Check the water level in your batteries, if they're wet-cell. If low, top off with distilled water.

With respect to the inflatable PFDs... I would manually inflate them and let them sit overnight to check them for leaks while you're replacing the arming kit and cylinder.

Check your USCG documentation and renew it if necessary. Same with your Ship's Station Radio License. The USCG Doc needs renewing every year, and is free, the FCC SSRL needs to be updated every ten years IIRC, and can be done via the www.FCC.gov website.

Check the bulbs in the navigation lighting, and make sure they're up to spec. If the bulbs appear cloudy or smoky, they probably need to be replaced, since the appearance is usually caused by tungsten plating onto the glass from the filament.
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