Whether you are buying a boat, taking it out again after a period of not using it, or using it frequently, regular checks are the only way you will have trouble-free boating.
Ensuring your boat is well maintained and equipped, and knowing how and when to use your equipment will help you stay safe.
- Get your engine serviced – make sure your boat's engine is up to the job. Schedule an annual service and make regular visual checks.
- Change your fuel – if your boat's been out of the water for a while it pays to replace old fuel with clean, fresh fuel. Never assume your trip will run exactly according to plan – always plan to use a third for the trip out, a third for the trip back, and keep a third in reserve to allow for the unexpected.
- Give your boat a once-over – take a thorough look and make sure everything on your boat is in good working order. Start in one place and work your way around the boat checking everything inside and out. If you find anything that is damaged or worn, repair it properly or replace it.
- Check your lifejackets – before re-use make sure that lifejackets are still the correct size (especially for children) and in good condition. If you have an inflatable, make sure it's checked and serviced regularly and regularly check that the gas cylinder is properly screwed home and not corroded. Lifejackets do not work unless they are worn.
- Check your equipment – look at all of the equipment on your boat and make sure it's in good working order. Check expiry dates on flares and fire extinguishers, and replace them if they're out of date. Make sure the boat's battery is professionally checked so that it will be capable of operating all electric equipment and have enough strength to start the motor. Check batteries on portable equipment such as torches, radios and your GPS, and replace them if you need to. Make sure your distress beacon's registration is up to date.
- Think about your emergency plan – look at where your safety equipment is stored. Can you access it easily in an emergency or after a capsize? Put together a floating "grab bag" that contains all the emergency gear you will need should your boat capsize. Remember, the best place to store a lifejacket is on your person with a means of communication in your pocket! Brief the crew on what to do if things go wrong and practice different scenarios – be mentally prepared for the unexpected.
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