by Conrad & Judy Kreuter
Q: Dear Boat Talk: My family and I plan to take a trip to Martha’s Vineyard this summer. What preparations should I make to add an extra margin of safety? FH, Lindenhurst NY.
A: Dear FH: Before you take any trip on your boat you should have a pre-departure check list such as the following to aid you in making sure that you have a safe and happy trip.
You must have a least one Coast Guard approved lifejacket per passenger as well a throwable flotation device (cushion or throw ring). Make sure you explain where each is located and how to use them to all passengers and crew.
Your boat must be equipped with a horn capable of producing a four second blast audible for at least one half mile. A backup portable air horn can be used as an alternate device. Be sure to have a spare can of air as a precaution.
Make sure all your navigation as well as your instrument lights are working. Bring along a flashlight as well.
Make sure you have accessible flares and day signals stored in a dry location. Make sure your crew and passengers are aware of their location and use.
A basic toolbox on board is a must. Along with the toolbox should be a quantity of spare parts, including light bulbs, fuel filters, engine parts, and thru hull plugs.
Make sure that all interior spaces are well ventilated before departure. If fuel smells are detected before ventilating, check after running the blowers for several minutes before starting. If the odors persist check out the source of the leak. Make sure you have accessible fire extinguishers and that the passengers and crew know their locations. Check to be sure mounts are secure and functional before departure.
Make sure your tanks are topped off or that you have enough fuel to provide a reasonable margin of safety for your return. Check the engine oil and coolant level.
Make sure the bilge’s are reasonability clean and dry and that bilge pumps are not running excessively.
Check battery connections to make sure they are clean and tight. The batteries should be fully charged. There should be enough battery power to run your whole vessel. If not, bring along spare batteries for electronic equipment needs. Make sure you have fully charged batteries for your handheld VHF radios.
Check the local weather conditions for the areas in which you plan to cruise. Keep a radio on board to receive weather updates.
Have at least one anchor system connected to your anchor line. Keep extra dock lines and at least two fenders in case of unusual conditions dockside. Make sure all lines are free of chafe and wear.
Have the ships papers and fishing permits available for inspection. Have charts for the areas you intend to cruise. Make sure to leave a float plan with a close friend, relative of dockmaster at your marina. Be sure to contact them when you have reached your destination and also when you leave.
Have a safe and wonderful trip!
ADDRESS YOUR QUESTIONS TO
C/O Moriches Boat & Motor
PO Box 658 Atlantic Avenue
East Moriches NY 11940
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