Pre-trip safety checklist

A pre-trip safety checklist will make your boating outings smoother sailing.

Dale StottFranklin Roosevelt said that smooth seas never made for a skilled sailor, so you need to be prepared for all situations.

My name's Dale Stott and we're aboard the boat, the Fox. With safety, there's always some non-negotiables. The things you must have, and we'll show you where some of that is stored.

There's things you must have on board with the boat. We keep all ours in a drawer that's quite accessible for everybody. It's in a very prominent spot, but this is just for safety. So straight away we've got our life jackets, it's the first thing we'll grab. They're on top, ready to go. We will make sure they're in a good surface able condition that they're dry, they're well maintained, that they're in date. That's something we definitely need to do. We now have those ready to go. There's also a minimum of one for every person on the boat. We generally carry extras on the boat and we put them in other locations, which we'll show you, not just upstairs, because if during the night something happens, they're very accessible. Someone can grab them straight away and then whack them straight on.

We need to have torches. We don't just have one, we'll have two. Make sure they're in a good working order. We have our e-curves ready to go. Some these can be either mounted or transportable. B sheet. We also have our flares. Make sure they're current flares, in date, as well as your parachute flares.

One of the biggest variables in boating is weather. It can change quickly and that's something we need to be well aware of. Most of my traveling, I've been doing this for a number of years, and what I generally do is use apps. I use Whitley weather that I've got set up here and I've got all my points set up all the way down the coastline depending on where I'm going. It can be different here to further up the coast.

We're currently a Broughton Island. We can bring up the wind. We can do it in the days, the days wind, three days or five days. There are different apps you can use. Some people use Windy, there's Willy weather. We use the bomb as well. It also gives us a swell. We can look at the sea conditions and then if we are traveling further up the coast, we might look to see what the next port is. If you're not confident in reading yet, you can use the Coast Guard, monitor Channel 16, you call up your local Coast Guard. They may ask you to change to a different local channel and then they'll be able to advise you of the wind conditions and weather conditions for the day or the coming days.

Marine radio a must have if you're traveling offshore, to communicate with the other boats, to communicate with the Coast Guard. And the other good thing to do is do a marine radio course.

Your GPS navigation these days is a great safety tool to have. It's even great to have a backup system, which just allows, so you've got multiple sources of information. If you've got an issue with one, you've got a backup. Another piece of great equipment obviously is a depth sounder. You need to have this. Understanding what your boat draws, your draft. You can set your limits on there so it lets you know. It matches up with your charts and if you set your depths, it'll highlight the areas you can go and not go into.

As great as all this electronic equipment is, you've must have a compass as well. It's been around forever. It's a simple device which you can use as a backup or in case, if everything else fails, you've still got a compass to help find your direction home. Also for, say, another great safety feature is having a good set of binoculars. These binoculars are also fitted with a compass, inbuilt compass.

Areas of heightened risk are in the kitchen where you've got elements, you've got ovens, you've got toasters, you've got kettles. These are all potential fire hazards at that point. So it's always good to have a fire extinguisher, which was labelled on our cupboard here. Labels for fire extinguishers and we have one of those in every cabin. We've also got our warming blanket and we keep it away from the oven just so it's in reach. So if the fire's there, it's no good having it in the cupboard right next to the source of the fire. So we keep it just on the other side. It's something that's easy, easily accessible.

This particular boat's fitted with five bilge pumps, electric bilge pumps, automatic bilge pumps. They're all marked here where they are in the boat. If these can be manually overridden, been turned on. Otherwise they will automatically come out if there's any water. So if a light comes up on my dash, that lets me know that I've got water in that particular area. If all else fails, we do have a manual override pump, which we need to know where that is. We simply grab our lever, insert the handle, and then we start pumping.

First aid kit. Boats can be a hazardous environment. We've got a lot of sharp objects, we've got hooks, we've got burn potentials, so we need to have everything to be able to treat that onboard the boat.

Bailing buckets are always great to have. Some of these soft buckets we find are good because you can actually get them into different positions, but we carry multiple buckets. There'll be some in here and we'll have some in the engine room as well as we'll have some in the garage.

Important safety features that you can put on a boat. We've got rear cameras. Obviously we can keep an eye on what's going on when we are docking or if we've got people out the back, we can keep an eye on what's going on. There we go. Keep an eye on him and see where he goes down to the back. We've also got some paddle boards on the back. We can keep an eye on those when we're traveling. Make sure we don't lose anything over the back. We also have engine room cameras. We've been in situations where we picked things up and we can actually, you'll actually see the filters if there's anything swirling around inside the filters.

So we need to know we've got enough fuel for the journey we plan on taking, so we need to know what's on board and we do that. We obviously have our gauge, which tells us here, but we also run trip meters. So this gives us actual numbers. We record those each time because sometimes your percentage gauges can't be totally relied on. We understand our fuel burnt. We also make sure we have redundancy. We don't like to go any less than having a 10% redundancy at an absolute minimum.

Very important. Obviously if you're doing coastal cruising, as you know how much water you've got on board, you can see here we've got fresh water, we're down to 37%. We've got our black tank, but you always need to make sure you've got water. Very important for offshore. And usually have as well as having a separate source of water in case for some reason you you've lost all the water. We've got twin tanks.

Prior to us going out at sea, we need to secure everything to make sure that we've got nothing getting come. Open drawers for example. So here we have our fridges, we've got latches on there. Make sure we shut all our latches to give them a solid lock and as well as all our drawers. You notice here we've also got some of the items we have on the bench. If we've got reasonable sea conditions, we simply put them on here. They've fastened with our oven retainers so that they won't actually fall off onto the floor. If we're in really, really rough conditions, we would actually take these, and stow them right down on the floor or put them away. But under general circumstances, just for normal operation, we can simply put them there and they won't slip off.

Heightened risk with boats is not pushing the boat beyond its capabilities, so know what your boat's capable of doing before you head out and do your coastal cruising. There's also heightened risks for people of an age or people that can't swim or people with medical conditions. So make sure you understand the people you've got on board, or if you are one of those people, you are a skipper for example. Just make sure you stay within your limits and what you're comfortable with. Obviously you have a heightened risk at night time. If you're staying overnight, it's harder to see the dangers and as well as drifting anchors slipping. You've got to be well aware and at vigilant at all times.

There's no point having it if people don't know where it is and don't know how to use it. So before you head off, have a brief and spend some time. A lot of time you're taking guests on board your boat, they haven't been boating before. They're there to experience the boating, but they don't know how to put a life jacket on. So spend the time and just show them how they work and where everything is and what it's actually used for.

Safety features. If someone's really in the way, you can always just give them the horn.

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