What to check before going out to avoid nasty surprises at sea?

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There are many controls, improvements, and small jobs you can do on board to make your boat more comfortable and safe. Every shipowner knows that the “work list” is constantly being updated and will never end: but what are the essential checks to be made before setting sail, whether you are sailing peacefully with friends or are a true sea dog who loves harsh winter conditions?

Skipper Omero Moretti reveals them to us in his book “The Craft of the Sea” (ed. Il Frangente, 192 pages, 19 euros). Who, with his 35 years at sea and 39 ocean crossings behind him (we told you his story in the December/January issue of the Sailing Newspaper), has accumulated so much experience that he knows with certainty everything that is often underestimated and that could create problems at sea.

“It may sound trivial,” Moretti begins, “but first it is essential to know the boat perfectly, especially the sea intakes, submerged appendages and steering organs, which are the weak points of every hull. This inspection work must be done when the boat is ashore.” And so on. Jobs perhaps taken for granted, but indispensable. Taking a cue from Moretti’s advice, we have put together a checklist of what you must not forget before you cast off your moorings.

THE INDISPENSABLE CHECKS FOR SMOOTH SAILING – PART ONE

1. TAKEN AT SEA.
Check (when the boat is dry) that the sea intakes open and close perfectly to prevent water seepage, so that they can be used in emergency situations. Change socket seals often: they should never be corroded. Never forget to board wooden cones, to be used if a sea socket or through-hulls (including log and sounder) give way: it is important that they be placed in an easily accessible place.

2. APPENDICES
If you have a hanging rudder, check (when the boat is on the slip) that the shaft is not cracked because, especially at portals and in windy conditions, the blade has to take a lot of pressure. To check for water seepage inside the blade, a good method is to drill a hole at the bottom. Take a look at the bulb: it should not be cracked and its pins should not be cracked or damaged by galvanic currents.

3. PORTHOLES AND MANHOLES
Since portholes and hatches should be kept tightly closed when sailing to prevent water from entering due to a wave or gust of wind, you should always check the condition of the seals: if they are worn or rotten they should be replaced. It is a simple job that you can do yourself if you have the parts sent to you by the original manufacturer.

4. DRAPES AND CANDLESTICKS
Always check the tightness of the drapes and stanchions-they are a vital foothold for going forward, and if they fail, the worst situation could occur: man overboard. Mount a protective net, medium to small mesh, if you are sailing with children and animals.

CONTINUED…

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