Its that time of year again. The annual pre season sailing checks.
I always do it in three stages:
1. Arwen herself – a thorough inspection of hull, fittings, sails and rigging. Then there is a detailed trailer inspection; finally the safety equipment and clothing check - PFD’s, safety equipment carried etc.
Today has been safety equipment check day.
So, what have I done?
Garmin InReach Explorer PLB – checked subscription
and the settings I use; the people who receive my tracking updates; personal details
and description of Arwen; its attachment points to my PFD
Ditto with my RYA safetrx (still got a
bit of sorting to do on that one later – I’ve done something wrong somewhere so
it isn’t working as it should).
Keeping my Navionics chart subscription; it
does need updating but I manage another year with just the existing charts I
Handheld ICOM M23 VHF radio – every year
I seem to forget something about how it works or what channels to use – so I’ve
been reading the handbook, again!
My flares expire in August 2023 so they
will be good for this season. I need to research and give some thought to
buying an electronic visual distress flare – such as the ODEO mk 3 distress
flare. I’m growing increasingly more uncomfortable with carrying pyrotechnics on
board. Difficult to handle and even more difficult now to dispose of. Maybe I
will keep some of the floating orange smoke cans? Most of my sailing is in
Reflective emergency heliograph and LED
strobe light - checked. I will carry the former in a pocket on my buoyancy
aid. Not sure about the strobe light. I’m trying to avoid cluttering my PFD so
that I don’t hamper my re-entry in to Arwen after a capsize.
Waterproof torches are working and
undamaged. New batteries in each. One is clipped to the inner transom below the
rear small deck. The other is stored in a locker.
Aerosol foghorn needs replacing.
Small folding radar reflector is showing
some salt corrosion but it will be OK for this year. To be truthful, I can’t
ever remember hoisting it anyway!
Buoyancy aid - all the belts and webbing
straps are sound, no loose stitching. The pocket zips on two out of the four
pockets have corroded but I don’t keep anything in them anyway.
Folding sail knife in one of the other
pockets is fine and a little WD40 has made it easier to open. The lanyard
attaching it to an inner pocket loop is fine. I also checked the spare one
in the grab bag in the safety locker. I wonder if I should actually attach this
one to the inside of the boat somewhere instead?
Lifejacket - unpacked it, checked the
canister and the stitching. The outside valve shows it is still ‘green’ and
safe. No chafing, no frayed stitching. Buckles and D ring are shiny and not
corroded. Securing Velcro is as it should be, no loose stitching, no pulling
away from any fabrics. The cylinder isn’t rusted and I can orally inflate the
jacket and it seems to be holding its air. The firing cord is not frayed and
although I haven’t pulled it, I can’t see anything to stop it from firing as it
boat insurance - renewed
Outboard - checked and started. I always
winterize it carefully so I wasn’t expecting any issues. Nothing to do – no oil
changes or filter cleaning. Everything green across the board. I have spare
kill cords – one permanently attached to the boat near the outboard mount.
Safety jack strap running lines that can
be installed into Arwen - the stainless-steel deck D attachment points are
fine. Still solidly attached. The red woven straps are as new.
Safety harness is as new as well; no
frayed stitching and the safety hook works easily. I’ve never actually used any
of it but I carry it on inshore coastal passages – perhaps I don’t need it? It
is a great topic of debate isn’t it – whether you should have a harness on when
sailing solo on inshore passages? May be
I need to go talk to people in the DCA and see what their views are. For now,
it will all stay in the safety locker.
Sea anchor and its rode got a check and a
clean. The swivels work. It deploys. The rode is well coiled.
Tool kit for the engine has been checked
as has the toolkit for the boat. Everything as it should be.
The fire extinguisher will expire this
year but I’ve given it a good shake to move its contents about. Maybe I will
replace it this year with one of those ‘firesticks’ that everyone is talking
about. Very popular in motorhomes, I’m not quite convinced about how well it
will work on an outboard fire in a stiff sea and breeze. I could see it being
effective under the cockpit tent though in the event I knock the Trangia over!
The First Aid kit is well stocked and
everything is in date. Thermal blankets are still in sealed pouches.
Safety light sticks I carry have expired.
I need to make a decision on whether to replace them or not.
Spare batteries for the spare VHF are
still fine in their sealed containers and the radio itself is also OK – they sit
in a sort of grab bag in the safety locker.
Oars were redone at the end of last
sailing season – re-varnished; the leather collars restitched and the blade tips
fibre-glassed and repainted – white! Rowlocks
are secure, their lanyards un-frayed.
24. Although attached to Arwen, I include them here as safety equipment – my re-boarding straps and my ‘capsize knotted throw over the hull ropes’. These need a clean with soapy warm water and I need to reconsider where I stow them. Last season, I went swimming off Arwen whilst she was anchored, several times. On each occasion, I could just reach an arm over the side deck to get the straps from under them but it was hard work. In a rolling sea and strong wind, it would be even harder. So I need to consider whether they can be stowed out of the way on the side deck attached to the coaming in some way that facilities ‘quick-release’ by me but not by the occasional wave sluicing down the side deck.
I threw the throw line a few times.
Always better to practice at something like that rather than assume you can do
it correctly at the time of emergency use. It’s been re-stuffed back into its
sack and all is well with its condition.
Bilge pumps! I still haven’t got this
properly sorted on Arwen. The portable kayak one stored under the side deck is
fine. It works as it should and I stick the outflow pipe into the top of the
centreboard case opening. The bailing bucket is also fine as is its lanyard. But
I still suffer this niggly doubt. I should install a proper small manual bilge
pump on Arwen – a whale urchin type. I also need to sort out where to mount my
portable electric bilge pump set up. It is still working – battery is recharged
etc. Major ranking on the priority ‘to do list’ is this issue surrounding bilge
I carry two navigation compasses on Arwen
and a spare handheld walking compass in the grab bag. The former two have been
cleaned and checked. They are still accurate and haven’t sustained any damage.
I have a set of portable battery-operated navigation
lights that I can attach to Arwen’s shrouds when doing inshore passages
where I might be arriving at dusk. They’ve been cleaned and new batteries
inserted. The white anchor light torch I carry has had the same checks
All my charts are still usable; pencils
have been sharpened. Last Year’s small craft almanac will do another
year. Binoculars have been cleaned.
Anchor warp got a scrub and a check. The two
anchors likewise – rode's were re-flaked back into their respective
storage boxes. At the same time, I
checked the spare 30m anchor warps as well along with the mooring lines.
New whippings done on two of them. Fenders have been cleaned and their
lanyards checked – their whipped ends had frayed as well – all replaced! The anchor buddy has been washed to remove sand and grit and the shackles greased lightly.
The boat hook has been silicone so that
it twists out, extends and ‘locks’ more easily.
The paddle needed a good scrub but the
varnish is sound and so it will do another year without any maintenance.
I think that’s it.
Next week, Arwen will be taken off the driveway and given a
thorough clean and hull/fittings inspection. The trailer, although new, will be
done at the same time – tyre checks, bearings, winch and rollers greased.
All her sails and running rigging are in the back room at
the moment – so that’s an evening’s work as well. I already know a trip to a
sail maker is on the cards – some cringles need replacing and some stitching is
fraying badly. By the end of next week, I will re-rig her ready for a shake
down new season cruise in early March.
Of course, I need to repack everything back into Arwen. This was my original packing plan. no doubt it will have changed again by the end of next week!!