Remove your log when leaving your yacht for long periods

Removing your log will stop it getting growth and allow the mechanism to continue to move freely, maintaining it's accuracy. Only do this when the yacht is not moving and you have a blank plug to put in its place. If you are doing this for the first time don’t be alarmed as there will be a certain amount of water ingress.

Periodically put vinegar down your heads

Just like some areas of the world where limescale builds up in kettles washing machines etc.; human waste has the same effect and  eventually clogs up your pipes. We all know the horror of having to unblock a heads because of an errant baby wipe but this could be made worse by the build-up of solid matter in the pipes making the diameter smaller and smaller (think heart attack in your heads). To solve this pour ordinary vinegar down the bowl and pump through the system, shut the outlook sea cock and leave overnight. This will breakdown the build up of matter and after a thorough pump through will leave your pipes clearer and smelling better. This is a much better solution than using harsh regular cleaner which can attack the rubber seals.

Chafe Protection

No this isn’t about skippers underpants where a good dose of E45 cream is needed. Chafe happens in numerous places around a yacht – some obvious some not. A common one is how the head sail sheets are led. Leading your sheet outside or inside the shrouds will depend on whether you are sailing downwind or upwind and possibly the size of your sail. If you are sailing downwind for a long period of time than its worth changing your sheet to be outside the shrouds. This can easily be done by running the lazy sheet outside the shrouds and then through the carr to another winch or cleat.

Another key area where chafe can happen is the end of your spreaders. Make sure the ends are taped or have leather to protect your sails and whilst up the mast have a look at all your split pins which should be taped over or even better have a good healthy dose of  silicon dolloped over the tips. This could save the owners life as he wont have to see his spinnaker torn in half by a errant split pin, thus avoiding the rise in blood pressure and reddening of face.

Stopper Knots

Most yacht will have figure of eight (or admiralty stopper knots) at the end of halyards, sheets etc. When tying the knot leave about a foot of line free which allows you to grab it should it run all the way through and nub up to a jammer or carr. Remember to never put stopper knots in the end of spinnaker gear.

Halyard Length

One of the quickest MOB recovery methods is to attach a halyard to the lifting strop on a life jacket. It is well worth checking that at least one of your halyards is long enough to reach water level plus to allow you to do this.

Shore cable technique

Correct shore cable technique is something not often though about or talked about but should be covered in the safety brief. If possible try and have the cable passed to and from the yacht from person to person. If this isn’t possible then on arrival “step off” with the shore cable, on departure “step on” with the shore cable. This means that should you be unfortunate to fall in with the cable it won’t be plugged into the shore supply and save an otherwise shocking end!

 Check your water strainer/sea chest

Generally we are pretty good at checking water flow through our engines by seeing/hearing the flow come out the exhaust, but most of us probably rarely check our sea strainers. Over time, bits of weed, debris, growth etc. can collect in your strainer and hinder the flow of your sea water cooling system. This can then start to have a detrimental effect to your engine. Its worth pulling the strainer out now and then to give it a good clean. Make sure to turn the inlet valve off before checking the strainer and then on again afterwards.

 Get to know your fire extinguisher

Seriously, this could be the difference between life or death. Make sure you know what type of extinguisher you have (hopefully powder), how to use it, how many you have, location and make sure they are in date. Don’t forget your engine room/bay and check whether your automatic one is in date. if you haven’t got an automatic system, slap yourself and then go and get one. Make sure you get professional help in installation as size and location are very important.

How accurate is your diesel gauge

Ever had the experience where one minute your tank reads full and the next minute it is suddenly empty? Depending on where your fuel tank is and the shape can mean that fuel appears to suddenly run out quickly. This typically happens mid shipping lane with half a dozen big ship and little or no wind. One of the nearly fool proof ways is to find out what your fuel consumption is at cruising revs and then divide that by your tank capacity which will give you engine hours from a full tank. For example if your engine consumed ten litres an hour and you had a 200 litre tank than you have roughly 20 hours at cruising revs (usually around 1800RPM). Its good practise to keep a separate engine log which allows you to record engine hours and servicing. Try and carry a spare 20 litres if you can, making sure you use a suitable containor stored correctly above decks

Check your steering cables

Steering cables are typically made out of wire but you do find some that are spectra. Metal cables should be checked to make sure they look sound (no exposed wires) and haven't stretched too much becoming loose. Listen out for any odd sounds and also the feel of the helm. If in doubt and unsure get a professional to have a look. Steering failure is a common occurrence so make sure you know how to use your emergency steering and carry a spare cable.

By Jim Dobie