Allport Marine Survey – Advice Column
Experience is the knowledge that you receive immediately after you needed it. Most of the following has been gleaned from experience.
Buy a comfortable, well fitting life preserver and wear it whenever your boat is underway.
Smoke, carbon monoxide, and high water alarms should be tested regularly. Also test vapor detection systems and your VHF radio. Carbon monoxide alarms typically have a limited life span of about three years.
Shake up dry powder fire extinguishers regularly and if possible mount them horizontally so the powder does not become compacted in the bottom of the canister.
Pay attention to what your nose is telling you. Do you smell gasoline, propane, sewage, fungus, or smoke/exhaust? These are big red flags! Do something about it. With the important exception of carbon monoxide many serious problems have a distinct and unmistakable odor.
Learn how to effectively heave a coiled line or carry a throw bag or monkey’s fist for the same purpose.
The following items are not required by law but I consider them essential for responsible and enjoyable boating: binoculars, boat hook, a bucket, flash light/search light, spare batteries, adequate ground tackle, spare line, charts of your area, sunscreen, hat, and drinking water.
Know where your through hull fittings are, including stuffing boxes on rudder and propeller shafts. Exercise the valves regularly.
Carry spare fuel filters and raw water impellers and learn how to change them.
Clean and check anti siphon valves at least once a season.
Pull and wiggle hoses. You may be amazed at what you find.
Keep an eye on the weather and watch where you are going.
Keep your options open, try to have a viable plan B, and plan C, in case things go wrong. If your engine quits in a bad spot, is your anchor ready to drop? Are your sails ready to hoist? Can your dinghy be used as a power assist vessel?
Don’t wear flip flops on a boat. People have died because they did.
If you fell overboard could you easily climb out of the water and back onto your boat?
The prudent person would carry additional items specific to their own needs: prescription medicines, sunglasses, appropriate clothing, etc.
Wooden damage control plugs are a nice idea but they are often found to be generically provided and not suitable for the fittings they are intended to protect. Damage control plugs should be made of soft compressible wood such as cedar or pine and fitted to the various pipe diameters of the thru hulls on your boat. Drill a hole in the plugs and attach them to their respective thru hulls with a string.
Secure the bitter end of your anchor line to the boat before dropping the anchor.
Use stopper knots or otherwise secure the bitter ends of halyards and other lines that might un-reeve themselves and not be easily restored.
Do not turn the battery selector switch to the off position while the engine is running.
Close sea cocks and turn off shore side water connections before leaving the boat unattended.
Do not close cockpit drains.
Open the appropriate sea cocks before using your boat, especially the raw water intake for your engine! I hang my ignition key on my raw water intake valve when the boat is not being used. That way I always check the valve before I start the engine and after I shut it off.
Never allow your bow line to be long enough to reach your propeller.
Buy a boat that you can afford to maintain lavishly.
“The best advice is second hand”
Accredited marine surveyor
Click to view surveyor listing on The Marine Surveyor Marketplace
Tony Allport, SAMS® AMS®
Principal Marine Surveyor
Allport Marine Survey
11310 Tillicum Dr.
Anderson Island, Washington 98303
Based in Seattle, Washington. Serving the Puget Sound Region Including Olympia, Tacoma, & Gig Harbor