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The old adage ‘fail to prepare, prepare to fail’ is never more true than when you go out sailing!
Preparation is key for a fun and safe voyage. To ensure that you get the most out of your time on the water without encountering any ‘stormy waters’, we have put together top tips on preparation.
Tip 1 – Gear failure
Almost all gear failures and problems at sea with a yacht relate to lack of preparation before you start and regular maintenance checks. Every moving and standing part of a yacht should be checked, and all deck equipment should be running smoothly, washed in fresh water and lubricated as appropriate. Rigging should be checked for potential failures, cracks or weaknesses in wire or rods. Top skippers will have a check list, often split into sections for crew members to check their section before setting off.
Tip 2 – Engine condition
Ensure that your engine is regularly serviced and properly maintained. Always check your oil, belts, water pump, fresh water cooling system and electrics EVERY time that you sail. Your engine is one of your most important pieces of safety kit! You can avoid hefty charges by attending a one day Engine Maintenance Course run by RYA approved schools – visit www.rya.org.uk for more information.
Tip 3 – Antifouling
Make sure the bottom of your boat is clean. A millimetre of weed can slow the boat down considerably and will add significantly to your fuel bill if you are motoring. It can be cheaper to send a diver down than to be hoisted out at an expensive marina. Applying a good quality antifoul once a year will minimise the necessity of constantly cleaning the bottom of your boat. Choose your antifouling carefully as certain antifouls are much more effective than others in particular local environments. Find a local charter company and ask what they are using!
Tip 4 – Comfort Items
Make sure the boat is functioning for comfort! Check you have enough gas, matches (wrapped in a waterproof container) torches etc. Make sure all plumbing and piping is operating properly. There’s nothing worse than a blocked or smelly loo, and a cooker that doesn’t work when you really need a cup of tea! Check for leaks, especially around windows, and where/if the mast is stepped through the deck. Wash down and thoroughly dry out bunk cushions so that they are salt free before setting off. Small things can make a big difference to your enjoyment.
Tip 5 – Sail Care
Check through your sail wardrobe and make sure they are washed down with fresh water and dried out regularly. Check seams for weakened stitching and repair ahead of time. Check shackles, snap shackles, furling gear and other fittings are working smoothly. Regular maintenance will extend the life of your sails. Sails are your ‘engine’ and so looking after them properly pays big dividends.