I check that the seawater **** to the engine is open by hanging the keys on the gear shift lever...the **** is about a foot away. This also allows me to sniff the engine area to determine if I have a fuel leak.
On a related note, I always check for water coming out of the exhaust. Basically, I damaged an engine by not opening the seawater **** early in my sailing career...an expensive, newbie mistake. I do, however, close all below waterline through hulls with the exception of the cockpit scuppers because I have seen several failures at dock over the years and seeing your boat half sunk because a hose clamp loosened can ruin your day sail.
EDIT: Stupid gay-arsed auto-prude deleted all mention of "cok".
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