Trip Guide

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Trip Guide


Heading out to sea for an afternoon, a day, a week or even longer takes a certain amount of preparation.   You may be diligent about keeping your vessel in prime operating condition, fully stocked with emergency parts, tools and supplies, but a double check is necessary for safety.  Use this list of items to verify you know your environment, route, boat capabilities and other factors for smooth sailing.

Check the Weather.  While you may feel like sailing, the weather may not be great for it. Always check the weather not only where you are, but where you are going to make sure you are not headed into a storm or similar problems.

Check Sea Conditions. The sames goes for sea conditions. High waves or choppy seas can impact your plans and your route.

Check Your Battery. Get in the habit of checking the charge at the beginning, middle and end of a water excursion. Its use can tell you when you may need a new battery and you will notice any problems sooner.

Check for Corrosion. Metal will fall victim to the combination of salt water and moisture. They can get in any nook or cranny, causing problems. Use waterproof grease on controls,  mechanics, and electrical connections to keep them free from corrosion.

Check Your Fuel. Last year’s fuel is not good enough for this year. Believe it or not, fuel has a shelf life. Discard old fuel if you haven’t been out on the boat since last season or even for a few weeks to be sure you don’t need a tow to get home.

Make a Pre-trip Checklist Specific for Your Boat. As you become more familiar with your vessel, you will get to know what works, what doesn’t and what you should keep an eye on. Make yourself a list to go over every time you launch.

Equipment Check.  You should have intimate knowledge of your boat and what makes it work. Understand the engine and its connections, steering and the boat’s structure. This is especially important on a boat that’s new to you, so if you have problems, you know how to ask for help or who to go to.

Lifejacket Check.  Inflatable life jackets have cylinders, and just like fire extinguishers, they need to be checked and serviced periodically. Don’t forget to add this to you checklist.

Check Communication Equipment. Everyone assumes the radio will work until you really need it to, and then it doesn’t.  Run a test on communication equipment before leaving the dock every time.

Abstain.  Boating out on the water, shine shining down and hanging out with friends almost invites one to enjoy an alcoholic beverage. The skipper should abstain from the festivities, keeping the rest of the crew safe.

Check Your Brain.  Once you are sure the boat is mechanically sound and you have everything you need, take a couple minutes to just think about where you are going, how to get there, what the conditions are like and what possible challenges you could encounter. That will get your brain thinking on them before they happen, speeding up your response and keeping you calmer.

Charters

Sometimes to go out on the water, you have to charter a vessel and captain so you can enjoy the sun, fishing, swimming or other recreational activities. There are some things you can do to be prepared, even if you are not the captain of the ship:

Ask About Emergency Plans. Upon boarding and before leaving the marina, the captain and crew should brief you on what to do in case of an emergency – where the lifejackets are, how to operate lifeboats, and other important information. If they don’t offer, ask. 

Tell Someone Where You Are Going.  Just in case communication equipment fails, make sur e you tell someone the details of your charter – where you are casting off, your destination, how long you plan to be gone, etc.

Bring Supplies. Everyone has heard of the infamous “three hour tour” that lasted a lot longer than that. You can be prepared by bringing extra medication or other necessary items to ensure that if there is a delay or emergency, it won’t be compounded by a medical problem.

Ask What Is Provided.  Ask the charter captain what is provided. Do you need to bring your own food and drink? Fishing equipment? What do you need in the cabins, such as towels or toiletries? Different charters provide different amenities, depending on the size of the vessel and duration of the trip.

When it comes down to time spent on the water, be it a fishing boat or a luxury yacht, the best policy is not to rely on others or Mother Nature. Think ahead, make your preparations and consider the possibilities to make sure your trip is safe and enjoyable.