Spring Safety Checklist Page 2

Spring Safety Checklist

Part 2: Liferafts, Handheld VHFs, PFDs, Misc.

By the Editors

 More of this Feature

• Part 1: Spring Safety Checklist
• Part 2: Spring Safety Checklist continued

 Related Resources
• Maintenance Index

HAVE YOURS INSPECTED BY THE OEM. International regulations require SOLAS rafts to be inspected-even though that's mostly for commercial vessels, some megayachts are carrying SOLAS rafts. The U.S. Coast Guard no longer requires pleasureboats to have liferafts inspected but still strongly recommends having it done by an authorized facility, and liferaft manufacturers expect buyers to have them inspected annually

SOME MANUFACTURERS, LIKE SWITLIK, DESIGN LIFERAFTS so you can inspect them yourself. Even if you do this, you'll have to contact the manufacturer to find an approved repacking station in your area

IF YOUR CANISTER-STYLE RAFT stows in a cradle system, ensure the deck area is clear for launch

WHETHER YOUR RAFT STOWS IN A CANISTER OR VALISE, wash off any salt or debris, being careful not to point the hose where the painter comes off on a cradle-type system or where the seams meet on a canister-type system

MAKE SURE THE CONTENTS OF THE SURVIVAL KIT inside the liferaft are in good condition and have not reached their expiration date; the repacking station should take care of this for you

IF YOU DON'T HAVE A FLOATING ABANDON-SHIP or "ditch" bag separate from where you stow the life­raft, create one; pack it with water, a handheld VHF, and other key items

Handheld VHFs
CHECK THE BATTERY; if yours is a rechargeable type and has some juice left, discharge it completely before recharging

KEEP EXTRA BATTERIES HANDY, especially some for the handheld VHF that goes in your abandon-ship bag

TEST IT AT THE DOCK; flip to the weather channel to see if it's receiving, then do a radio check

MAKE SURE EVERYONE ONBOARD on every trip knows how to operate it, especially channel 16

CHECK THAT they're free of mold and dirt

MAKE SURE YOU HAVE THE CORRECT NUMBER of and size PFDs for the passengers you're likely to have onboard

FOR INFLATABLE PFDS, determine that the CO2 cylinder is fully charged and isn't damaged or punctured at its base

TEST THE INTEGRITY OF ALL INFLATABLE VESTS by removing the CO2 canister, inflating the vest manually, leaving it overnight, and then checking it in the morning to ensure it's still fully inflated and there are no leaks

MAKE SURE ALL AUTOMATICALLY INFLATING PFDS have spare CO2 cylinders in the vest pockets

REPLACE THE WATER-ACTIVATED BOBBIN on each automatically inflating PFD

STOW ALL PFDS neatly, loosely, and in a readily accessible place

CHECK TO MAKE SURE ALL PFDS are self-righting, in case a passenger is knocked unconscious while wearing one

IF THE PFD HAS A STROBE LIGHT, check the batteries; when in doubt, replace them

REGARDLESS OF WHETHER YOU HAVE a full-time crew or are just an active cruiser, hold abandon-ship and man overboard drills at the beginning of the season

KEEP A PLASTIC, FIVE-GALLON BUCKET ONBOARD; it's the most effective bilge pump ever invented, especially in the hands of a frightened boater

CHECK YOUR GROUND TACKLE. On larger vessels this may involve "ranging" the chain of each anchor, i.e. hauling it out for inspection and cleaning links on a dock, and repainting or remarking depth designations. On smaller vessels it's a good idea to make sure nylon rodes are in good shape, thimbles are sound, and the shackle pins are tight and properly secured with UV-resistant black-plastic tie wraps or stainless steel wire

PUT NEW BATTERIES IN YOUR HANDHELD FLASHLIGHTS; load them backwards into the light so you won't drain them should you inadvertently switch on the light. Batteries can be easily end-for-ended by most folks even in the dark

EXAMINE YOUR PORTABLE BILGE PUMP to ensure hoses are not cracked, broken, or even missing. Immerse the suction hose in water, and move a few gallons of water through the pump just to make sure it is in good working order

CHECK YOUR NAVIGATION LIGHTS. Most bulbs for masthead, stern, and running lights are quite inexpensive compared to the overall cost of the boats they protect at night or in conditions of restricted visibility. Replace them, and while you're at it, clean out the inside of the light if it's become dingy, cobwebbed, or otherwise challenged on the visibility front.

Previous page > Part 1: Before you put your boat in the water, make sure these key items are in proper operating condition. > Page 1, 2

This article originally appeared in the March 2005 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.

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