During my years of fishing, boating, diving, sea rescue work and high school teaching, I have picked up many safety and maintenance tips from experienced people in the marine industry. I include many of these in my training courses and have listed them below for you to refer to.
If you follow these tips, you and your crew, family and friends will be safer on the water and enjoy boating that much more. Feel free to contact me if you have any good ones of your own to add- Wayne Baddock
- Conduct a short safety briefing every time a new crew member comes on board. Include location of safety equipment and how to use it.
- Skipper should always wear the deadman’s lanyard ( emergency cut off cord ) while underway.
- Use quality bow and stern ropes for launching and retrieving. Ensure all ends are spliced, whipped or burned off to avoid fraying.
- Clearly explain the vessel launch and recovery plan to your crew and assign tasks beforehand.
- Check the telltale every time the motor is started to ensure engine does not overheat.
- Conduct a weather check on internet sites prior to every trip.
- Turn the bilge pump on as soon as the boat is launched. No water expelled means the bungs are definitely in.
- Skipper’s decision regarding the wearing of lifejackets. I insist all on board wear an inflatable lifejacket. Easy to wear and adjustable to fit all sizes.
- Maintain a record of all safety equipment expiry dates on sticker provided by Sea Soaring Marine.
- Ensure 406 EPIRB is registered and sticker placed on the EPIRB. A GPS enabled EPIRB calculates your position within 30metres.
- Carry a fire extinguisher on all vessels. Regularly check the gauge is in the green. Ensure the dry powder has not settled by turning upside down and shaking every trip.
- Attach a sharp, serrated edge, safety knife close to the helm for quick access to cut ropes in an emergency.
When buying a new or second hand boat
- Ensure a high output bilge pump in vessels with a floor.
- Insist on either basic or positive buoyancy. Check the builder’s plate if unsure-compulsory for all vessels built after 2006.
- Insist of sighting motor service history and consider having a qualified marine mechanic conduct a full, pre purchase inspection if you are new to boating.
- Enrol in a marine radio course to learn correct procedures and become confident in the use of your radio.
- As well as a mounted radio, purchase a floating, waterproof VHF handheld radio and store in a safety barrel. If in trouble, you will be able to maintain contact with nearby rescuers.
- Log on/off for every trip or advise someone regarding your trip details.
- Do a radio check for every trip. This ensures the radio is working and you are familiar with how to use it.
- Store safety equipment (flares, EPIRB, handheld radio, water) in a floating Sea Soaring Safety Barrel or similar, for easy access in an emergency or capsize.
- Store car keys, mobile phones and other valuables in the safety barrel.
- Keep spare set of boat keys, bungs ( ensure same thread type ) and deadman’s lanyard in the safety barrel.
- Ensure the end of the anchor line is properly secured to the vessel.
- Ensure shackles moused with stainless wire
- Ensure anchor rope neatly coiled for quick use in emergency
- Ensure minimum 3m chain and anchor line length is minimum three times the depth of water.
- Ensure the eye splice of rope to chain has a metal thimble.
- NEVER throw the anchor out. Lower using the bollard with astern propulsion. Teach your crew how to lower and then secure to the bollard using figure eight with two half hitches, as shown in Sea Soaring Marine training courses.
- NEVER tie the anchor to the boat if fouled as you risk a capsize.
- Ensure any reef anchor has chain and line separate to the sand anchor.
- Take portable fuel tanks out of the boat and place on the ground to refuel.
- Carry minimum of 50% more fuel than you require for each trip.
- Two- stroke motors, carry spare oil on board.
- Two stroke motors- keep a pre-mixed jerry stored safely to top up fuel tank after each trip. Saves having to calculate the exact fuel/oil ratio every time.
- For inbuilt fuel tanks, blowback during refuelling means STOP.
- Do not leave the fuel nozzle unattended and risk fuelling up the rod holder by mistake!
- Double check the correct fuel is used i.e diesel, unleaded or 2 stroke mix.
- Safely dispose of any old fuel to avoid expensive motor repairs.
- Purchase a grease gun with marine grade grease and Inox or similar lubricant.
- Ensure the bilge area is kept clean and dry.
- Thoroughly wash down boat, trailer and flush motor after every saltwater trip.
- Ensure vessel is either garaged, under shelter or protected with a boat cover.
- Lubricate all metal parts of motor with Inox.
- Have a piece or wire to poke the telltale outlet, in case of a wasp nest or other blockage.
- Keep basic tools and spare parts on board. This may include shackles, split pins, spare prop, ‘leatherman’ multi tool, spark plugs/spanner, spare fuses.
- Install a grease nipple on the starboard side of cable steering line and inject oil after every trip. Will need to purchase an oil container with grease nipple attachment.
- Vessel motor should be serviced annually, not during peak boating periods, to ensure you get quality service.
- Grease all moving parts on boat trailer including winch, tow hitch, jockey wheel, and wheel bearings at least every 3 months.
- Coat boat trailers with 50/50 mix of timber sealant and fisholene. This may add up to 10 years to the life of the trailer.
- Lubricate all moving parts on boat trailer with Inox after every trip.
- Use only synthetic rope on trailer winches. Steel cable is dangerous and webbing tends to overlay on itself and create a weak point.
- Check boat trailer bearings for wear every 3 months by i) jacking wheel and check for any ‘play’ or ii) during road trip, stop regularly and feel the trailer wheel hub for any excessive heat. I always replace bearings every year regardless.
- Fit a ‘third wheel’ arrangement, as seen on Sea Soaring Marine Roadmaster boat trailer. This spare has own hub and bearings and keeps vehicle dry if launching from beaches, mud banks or other difficult locations.
- Ensure boat trailer rollers are greased periodically.
- Purchase a CTEK battery charger or similar and keep batteries on charge. These have an auto cut off when fully charged.
- Coat battery terminals with vaseline or similar product to prevent corrosion of terminals.
- Ensure batteries are housed in ventilated, secure containers.
- Install closed cell batteries as much safer with no acid spillage.