When you buy a boat, you’re excited, you’re ready to get on the water, and you probably outfit it with everything it needs to be a safe sailing vessel.
Well, have you checked any of that stuff lately?
As it turns out, you can’t just buy something once and let it sit in a holding cabinet collecting dust. If you do, you’ll likely get it out to use in an emergency, and promptly end up swimming up a creek without a paddle.
Of course, the solution to this is to actually check your sailing equipment regularly and replace it as needed. However, you can’t really do that if you don’t know what to look at the most. Let’s take a look.
1: Fire Extinguisher
Your fire extinguisher isn’t some “buy once and hope not to use it” type of item. It does expire, and if you let yours expire without replacing it, your boat might be stuck burning to cinders in the middle of nowhere.
Fire extinguishers last about a decade. To keep track of this, it’s a good idea to get one the day you buy your boat, and on your ten-year anniversary with it, buy a new fire extinguisher as an “anniversary gift”. This will ensure that should a fire break out on your boat, you have a way to fight it and keep your boat from sinking and potentially hurting people.
2: Safety Flotation Devices
No one wants their boat to sink, but if yours does when you’re not prepared, you’ll regret it. Make sure your boat has safety vests, inflatable vests, and a lifesaver that can be tossed out.
However, you also need to regularly check this equipment. A lot of things happen on the water. The salty air and humidity, along with the constant exposure to sunlight, can easily break down the best safety equipment if it’s exposed. You might go to deploy your life raft in a moment of need just to find out that mice ate a hole in it and it’s useless. That is not something you want to happen.
You can prevent this by performing regular checks. Every time you get on your boat, give your safety flotation devices a once-over to make sure they at least look like they’re in good condition. Once a month or so, or at the start of the season if you only sail during the prime season, do an in-depth inspection for holes and signs of rot.
3: Food and Water
Any good sailor keeps survival food and a stock of fresh water on their boat. If you go off course or get lost in a storm, you might be missing for a while; even with your fancy equipment. You need food and water to make sure you can survive until you’re found.
Unfortunately, even foods made for survival situations expire eventually, and water bottles do leech environmental substances over time. Check the expiration date on your food, and when you buy new food, get new water, too.