As I write this, it's National Boating Safety Week, and the folks from the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary have been down on the docks, conducting routine courtesy inspections for any boaters desiring them.
I had a nice chat with my volunteer examiner as he went over the boat, and he made several suggestions as to items that I might improve. One of the things that interested him was the fact that, like many boaters, I do most of my own maintenance. "That means you know your boat pretty well", he said.
It's an obvious conclusion, perhaps, but it's a matter I seldom have thought about. He is right. I do know my boat well, and that means it's likely that if something really serious goes wrong, I probably can react quicker than others might, who never were "down in the bilges".
As you cruise through the summer months, you might take on a few maintenance tasks if you never usually do the work yourself. Especially, look around your boat with an inquiring eye. Where are the thru-hulls? Where are the hoses, belts, pipes, fittings that may break? Why are they there? Are they in good shape? And do you have the tools you need to fix them?
And then there is the matter of checklists. Do you have any kind of reminder to force you to tell new passengers where the lifejackets and flares are, or what your rules are? Several acquaintances of mine actually have handouts for passengers! After all, a boat in trouble is no less risky than an airliner in trouble, and our crews, though dedicated, probably aren't as professional.
Yet airline captains use checklists every day!
The other subject of my examiner's chit-chat was that dumb performance by the guy in the high-speed runabout on Ski-to-Sea Sunday, the guy that keep racing through the kayak course. What a jerk! We both wished, somewhat facetiously, that the Coast Guard had fired on him! He was an embarrassment to boaters everywhere. If you know who he was, show him this column, will you? If he doesn't like our comments, suggest he write the JIB SHEET a letter explaining why he should have been doing that .... and we'll print it, with his name, so all of you can comment to him, too. Sort of a BYC version of "shunning", I expect!
Happy, safe summer cruising to you all.
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