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SEAMANSHIP Words by Geoff Linter
The Boat and 
One of the most important elements of good seamanship is risk assessment. It should
be ingrained into all of our actions and decisions on board. So, the boat we are to trust
with our lives needs to be carefully checked over for faults and equipment shortfalls that
might jeopardise the safety of our intended trip and time spent onboard.
boat that is intending to make long offshore are double clipped. Also that they are
passages will need more rigorous checks not leaking. Plastic piping will need
and carry more in the way of equipment and replacing after 5years or so as it gets
supplies than a boat that is only intending to brittle.
make short coastal passages. However all vessels that
go to sea should have a thorough inspection beforehand. Stern glands: Bronze units often
develop leaks. They need adjustment
Let’s try to identify the main risk areas: Fire, Sinking, Engine and lubrication and periodic repacking
failure, Dismasting, Rudder loss. of the sealing material. Rubber seal type units need to be checked
visually on a regular basis for leaks or dislodgement of the sealing
ring. These units have a service life of approximately 5 years as the
A serious problem at sea. You may have to
rubber component slowly degrades.
abandon the vessel. We must check that
we have the right type of extinguisher in the Engine failure: 
right places. These should be serviced or An understanding of how your engine works is particularly
replaced at regular intervals. You need one important. I would encourage all skippers to take the RYA diesel
large dry powder unit by the main cabin door engine course (or comparable course) if they are at all unsure. The
with several small dry powder units for the ability to start a truculent engine should be regarded as a high
cabins and automatic extinguishers for the priority skill. The most basic daily checks are fuel levels, coolant
engine bays. The automatic extinguishers water flow, oil levels, chaffing items in the engine bay (electrical
A FE-36 Clean
should ideally be of an oxygen starving type wires or pipe work) and the security of the engine mounts.
Agent (Halon
and not dry powder units as the later cause
replacement) serious engine damage if activated while the
automatic fire
engine is running. The galley should have a
fire blanket.
for use in
an engine
A visual inspection of any Gas installation
would be a good idea and make sure the
gas detectors are functioning. Never leave
rags or combustible materials in the engine
Apart from hitting something, the main
reasons for sinking are stern gland leaks/
failures and seacock failures. Occasionally,
after or during a fire the pipes to the
Rig failure is fairly common and could sometimes be avoided by
seacocks can fail. Close the seacocks as
A fire blanket
simple visual checks.
soon as possible if you have a fire.
is essential
equipment in
Check all of the lower standing rigging fitments very carefully, (this
Seacocks: Check visually that they are not
any galley may be a good time to put on your glasses if you wear them).
corroded and the pipes connected to them
Wires tend to break at the swages, bottle screws (tension adjusters)
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