Boat trip preparation I With Andrew Hart & Nick Duigan


No matter where you choose to go boating,
a day out on the water is always an adventure. And like any adventure it pays to be ready. The scouts have a saying, Andrew, and that
is “always be prepared”. These days boats are quite complicated pieces of equipment.
They are comprised of several critical systems and you have to make sure each of those systems
is ready to perform. You’ve got a day off, the weather looks great
and it’s time to go boating. But giving some thought to trip preparation is important and
it should start before you get to the ramp. Now if you haven’t used your boat for a little
while there are a couple of common ailments that can occur. Probably number one is the battery; it can
be flat or corroded up. Number two is the fuel system, Andrew. You
can get water in there, condensation is a common problem. Steering is another one, Nick. Steering systems
tend to seize if they have not been used for a while and if your boat’s been sitting in
the yard with its bungs left in and it’s rained it could be full of water which could be a
disaster. It’s also a good idea to get your boat’s engine
serviced annually, and remember all of these systems are more likely to fail after the
boat has spent long periods of time not being used, such as over winter. Once you’re happy everything is working as
it should, it’s important not to overload your vessel for the day ahead. If your boat is only fit for purpose for four
people, you still need to take into account the gear that everyone is going to have. If
you are going out fishing for the day, you’re going to have all your gear. So don’t have
all the people and all the gear on one side because that’s going to affect the stability
of the vessel which means it might capsize or someone might fall out. A good guide on most boats as to what is a
safe operating weight is found on the builder’s plate. The Australian builder’s plate is found on
most current model vessels. It’s a guide you should follow for how you load that vessel.
They will have a maximum horse power capacity and a maximum capacity of persons you can
carry on board that boat. Make sure you adhere to that otherwise you might be in some danger. Making sure your vessel is fit for purpose
is another important aspect of trip preparation. In Victoria there are three types of waterways:
coastal, enclosed and inland. It’s important you understand the characteristics of each
and make sure your boat is up to the task. What we recommend is your boat is fit for
purpose, so if you’ve got a small runabout open tinnie, you don’t want to be taking that
offshore where you’ll be facing big waves and getting water in the boat. A little boat like this is absolutely ideal
for enclosed waters or inland waters. But let’s be honest, you don’t want to find yourself
out to sea in a small boat like this. Most boaties will be familiar with the term freeboard,
that’s basically the measurement between the water and the top of the gunwales. Now as
the wave height increases above that, particularly if there’s a bit of white water, some of that
water can quickly end up in your boat. And in a boat like this, that is a serious problem. The freeboard, in simple terms, is from the
waterline to the top of the boat. And if you’ve got lots of passengers on board, that freeboard
is going to reduce. Particularly in coastal waters, where you’ve got a fair bit of wave
activity, the waves can easily lap over the side of the boat, fill the boat with water
and then you’ve got a capsize situation. And you certainly don’t want to be in a situation
like that! If you are boating in coastal waterways, make
sure you have the most up-to-date weather forecast. And take note of the typical wave
height forecast, remembering bigger waves do occur. Checking the weather forecast is, first and
foremost, what you need to be doing. Secondly, make sure you’ve got all the right
safety gear on board that vessel, and that it’s all up-to-date. And thirdly, you want to make sure that your
vessel is suitable for the waterways that you’re about to go and have fun on. So a few simple things to remember when heading
out boating: Ensure your boat is ready to go, check battery,
fuel and steering Make sure your boat is not overloaded, the
builder’s plate on most boats is a great guide. Ensure you have plenty of freeboard and that
your boat is fit for purpose Always check that your safety gear is up to
date And always get the latest weather information
including sea state and wave height.

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