Safety Zone

Capt_Peter_Squicciarini Are you ready to sail? Part II

February 6, 2013

My blog last week listed unsatisfactory and unseaworthy conditions that have been observed on underway towing vessels.

The items included no life jackets, no bilge pump, a broken compass, ancient charts, and no or wrong licenses. The list of other missing or broken equipment and emergency gear was equally disturbing.

There is solution to help prevent these unsafe conditions: the pre-sail checklist. Writing on a back of the envelope just won’t cut it. Instead, I am a fan of checklists. Don’t send the deckhand for groceries without a list. You could get bags containing only Fruit Loops and Hamburger. This lesson I personally learned. As I said in an earlier blog, we have enough Safety Management Systems procedures, ISM requirements, and Coast Guard rules and regulations and audits to choke a horse. Welcome to modern but safer times.

So what’s on the checklist? Well, that depends. As a compliance minimum (33 CFR 164.25), “tests before entering or getting underway” provides you with the core of your checklist. It covers items that you need to maintain control, because an unguided towing vessel can be more dangerous than an unguided missile:

  • Steering, rudders, indicators.
  • Main engines and generators.
  • Emergency power and lighting.

You can also add:

  • Lifesaving, firefighting and survival equipment.
  • Watertight integrity.
  • Stability condition.
  • Fuel, lube oil and water on board.
  • Charts, pubs and navigation equipment.
  • Navigation lights.
  • Electronics.
  • The “walk around” topside and engineering.
  • Secured and stowed for sea.
  • Gedunk.

Be sure to log in these items to show that they have been completed for the inevitable questions that follow an “event.”

There’s plenty more on the pre-sail checklist to make sure you’re really ready to go. Check out your company’s requirements. The list will guarantee that you won’t get underway without forgetting critical tests and items. It will also ensure that you won’t be on a Cocoa Puffs-only diet.

Sail Safe!


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