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Check List

If you are prepairing for an extended sailing, it could be useful to follow the recommendations below, extracted from Andy Chase's book.


This vessel survey procedure and checklist was compiled by Hank Halstead, of the Hinckley Company, specifically for the purpose of preparing for a delivery job, but it has applications aboard virtually any vessel under many circumstances. In its present ( or a modified) form, it could be employed when joining any vessel, old or new, for the first time, to familiarize yourself with the vessel; preparing for a major voyage; or after a major shipyard period or extended layup, to establish the seaworthiness of the vessel.

A. Hull lntegrity

I. Overall construction: note weaknesses, leaks.

2. Through-hull fittings: note location of each, exercise valves, ensure double hose-clamps below waterline.

3. Stuffing-boxes (for propeller shaft and rudder stock): check for wear and leakage.

4. All seawater hoses: inspect for deterioration.

5. Hatches, ports, and deck fittings: check for leaks and secure; check for watertight integrity by spraying with water hose.

6. Storm ports (for all ports larger than two square feet): have stout covers made; use half-inch plexiglass or equivalent.

7. All heavy gear: stow and secure.

8. Inventory tools: if you decide to carry your own basic tool kit, design it to fit your needs.

9. Hull repair kit

a. Underwater epoxy: one quart each of part a (epoxy) and part b -(hardener).
b. Appropriate patch material: depending on the type of hull. For a fiberglass hull bring fiberglass cloth and epoxy. For a wood hull bring plywood.
c. Other sealants: silicone, bedding cornpound. structural adhesives. (There are several on the rnarket. Get one that will cure under water, cure fairly quickly and rernain flexible.)
d. Other fastenings: for a wood hull galvanized drywall screws are good, but for a cornposite hull you'll need self-tapping rnachine screws or similar.
e. Duct tape.

B. Steering System

1. Cable systern
a. Check wheel sprocket and chain.
b. Tension and lubricate cables.
c. Check all sheaves, pins, and points of attachrnent.
d. Check rudder post, quadrant and especially keyway (check connection of rudder stock to quadrant).

2. Hydraulic systern
a. Fill reservoir.
b. Check systern for leaks.
c. Check steering rarn mounts, tiller arrn connections, and keyway.

3. Test ernergency steering systern and stow emergency tiller and needed tools at hand.

C. Engine and Drive Train
1. Visual check
a. Engine rnounts, alignrnent. and shaft coupling.
b. Oil leaks.
c. All belts: Condition and tension.
d. Fluid levels.
e. Electrical wires, connections, clarnps, etc.
f. Hoses (trace thern out and check for corrosion) - especially exhaust hoses, gate valves and venred loops.

2. Running check
a. Seawater exhaust for good flow.
b. Exhaust srnoke.
c. Exhaust systern leaks.
d. Run under load, up to maximum operational rpm, and check for overheating.

3. Spares (as required for the duration of the voyage)
a. Fluids and lubricants for at least one fluid change.
b. Filters, complete set.
c. Belts, complete set.
d. Impeller and gasket.

4. Note fuel and water tank capacity and consumption rate. Budget power and charging time accordingly. Watch this closely. Limit your power (fuel) usage more and more severely as the voyage progresses, so that you don't use up your fuel. Never arrive with empty tanks.

D. Spars and Rigging

1. Check all standing rigging (particularly end fittings) for cracking; check tangs for damage, check clevis and cotter pins. Tape as necessary to prevent chafe.

2. Check running riggíng for chafe, wear, etc.

3. Check all winches, deck blocks, and sheaves for free operation and lubricate. When dismantling winches, keep an eye out for the small springs, such as pawl springs. Don 't let them get away.

4. Check gooseneck fitting (anodized ones are dangerous. Double-check for cracks), mast partners, chocks, boot, and mast step (look for damage by electrolysis).

5. Inventory rigging spares and ditty bag (containing sail and rigging repair materials and tools).

6. Check for rigging cutters, pin punch, and a good hacksaw (be sure you have the right tool to cut through the type of rigging on the boat).

E. Plumbing (Essential Systems)
1. Bilge pumps
a. Check operation and clean strainers.
b. Inventory spares and rebuild kits for every pump aboard.
c. Note possible altemative pumps and make provision for converting. (Main engíne raw  water intake pumps, head intake pumps, and sump pumps all make excellent emergency bilge pumps, usually requiring only the disconnection of the intake hose from the sea cock and plugging of the sea cock.)

2. Tankage: fuel and water
a. Top off as required.
b. Check all deck fills and caps for watertight integrity.
c. Check all vents and overflows (insure they will not let salt water in to contaminate tanks).
d. Check system valves to isolate tankage as required (to prevent cross-contamination from one leaking tank to another).

3. Fresh-water pumps and plumbing
a. Check for leaks.
b. Inventory necessary spares.
c. Tum circuit breakers off for pressure pump when not in use (leave them off for prolonged offshore passages, to prevent pumping a tank dry if a valve is not closed tightly).

F. Electrical  
(You may also find an excellent Pre-Cruise checking list at:

1. Check altemators and voltage regulators for voltage output; also check belts, connections, etc.

2. Check batteries
a. Fluid level.
b. Terminals--clean any corrosion.
c. Battery boxes -secure against any possible movement.

3. Generators
a. Same visual/running inspection as main engine.
b. Output check.
c. Spares as necessary.

4. Essential lighting: check and repair as necessary
a. Navigation lights.
b. Compass light.
c. Steaming and signal lights.
d. Search lights.
e. Night lighting below (red lights).
f. Flashlights.
g. Spares for each, including bulbs, sockets, wires, lenses, batteries, etc.

G. Deck Layout and Gear

1. Inventory and check man-overboard (M.O.B.) equipment
a. M.O.B. pole.
b. Life-rings
c. Strobe light with automatic tum-on feature.
d. Drogue, sea dye, and heaving line.
e. Smoke bombs.
f. Lifesling, or other recovery system (if available, leam to use it).

2. Rig offshore lifelines; locate secure points of attachment for hamesses in cockpit area.

3. Check lifelines and stanchions; make sure crew knows if they are inadequate.

4. Rig knives at standard locations, e.g., at steering station and mast.

5. Clear decks of all loose gear and secure all essentials.

6. Check radar reflector.

7. Check ground tackle. (Anchors and chain should be stowed away once you are offshore.)


A. Watch System
Develop the watch system based on the number of crew aboard and the number of crew required for basic sail evolutions, such as sail changes and tacking. Distribute the skills and physical strength as evenly as possible.

B. Specific Responsibilities
1. Each crew member should be assigned a specific area of responsibility, from navigation and communications to mechanics, deck department, medical, safety, etc.
2. Each crew member should be assigned a position or responsibility for "all hands" calls during sail handling and emergencies (bow person, mast person, sheet person, helmsperson, etc.).

C. Personal Safety-check that each crew member is adequately outfitted with:
1. Foul weather gear, float coats, etc., so they will stay warm and preserve their strength.
2. Safety hamesses.

3. Personal strobe lights.

4. Life jackets (have crew try them on and keep them accessible).

D. Crew Drills-develop, teach, and practice:
1. Man overboard.

2. Abandon ship.

3. Storm-preparation and coping.

4. Fire.

5. Grounding.

E. Medical Supplies

1. The vessel should have a complete first aid kit, equipped to provide for aIl predictable injuries and to keep the victim comfortable for as long as the vessel is offshore. You must know how to use any gear you have.

2. Complete first aid manual or EMT textbook.

3. Crew members should be advised to bring all required prescriptions, medications, and supplies for their personal needs (such as diabetes or aIlergies).

4. Seasickness remedies, including Dramamine suppositories (necessary when a person can no longer hold anything down).

F. Food and Provisions

1. Make certain crew eats enough, and on a regular basis.

2. Provide plenty of food for around-the-clock meals.

3. Eat perishables first.


A. Storm Sails

1. Trysail or deep reef (note which is better for the given rig).

2. Heavy weather jib (a little bigger than a storm jib -used when still trying to make headway, before you heave-to).

3. Storm jib or staysail.

B. Sea Anchor and/or Drogue
Sea Anchor                                                                      Speed limiting drogue                              Series drogue (Click on image)

C. Adequate Lines or Warps (for slowing the vessel when running before a storm)

As a guide, use 10 x LOA, best adjusted to period of seas. Material: 3-strand nylon anchor warp is suitable.

Learn all about parachute anchors, towing lines and sea drogues at:

Investigation of The Use of Drogues To Improve The Safety of Sailing Yachts
by U.S. Coast Guard, Groton, CT

D. Practice or  Drill Appropriate Storm Techniques
1. Laying ahull.
2. Heaving-to.

3. Deploying warps or drogue.

4. Powering into the wind and sea.


A. Departure and Landfall Charts (with approaches and harbor details)

B. Small-scale Plotting Charts (departure to destination)

C. Universal Plotting Sheets

D. Emergency Landfall Charts

E. Light Lists, Sailing Directions, Coast Pilots, or Cruising Guides

F. Departure and Landfall Tide and Current Tables

G. For Celestial Navigation: sextant, almanac, tables, timepiece (twenty-dollar digital watch is sufficient)

H. Electronic Aids

I. VHF Radio

J. SSB Radio (for high seas weather, time tick)


A. Fire Extinguishers


C. Handheld VHFs (in waterproof container)

D. SOLAS-approved Distress Signals (not less than six of each):

1. Red parachute flares.

2. Red hand-held flares.

3. Orange smoke signals.

4. White hand-held flares (not for distress use, but useful for attracting attention).

E. Set of International Code Flags with H.O. #IO2-lnternational Code of Signals. (When all your electronics are down, these will enable you to communicate)

F. Set of Wooden, Tapered Plugs (to plug a broken through-hullfitting, etc.)


Abandon Ship Recommendations:

"The time to get into a life raft," says IYTD President Mark Fry, "is when your right foot is already wet, and you have to step up into the raft with your left."
CUT the raft's painter line and steer clear of the foundering vessel.
STREAM the sea anchor to prevent aimless drifting.
CLOSE the raft's doors and canopy to seal out inclement weather.
MAINTAIN the raft by bailing out water, inflating the floor, checking for leaks, and so on.

Only after you've attended to these should you move on to subsequent actions, such as operating location devices like EPIRB or START, setting a lookout, and giving everyone a job to promote morale.

A. Life Raft, High-Quality, with:

1. Double floor and tubes.

2. Canopy.

3. Standard life-raft supplies.

4. Extra food and all possible water.

B. "Ditch Kit" or "Grab-and-Go Bag." (Have this bag fully equipped and ready to go in the event of having to abandon ship.)

1. Sea anchor and line.

2. Stainless-steel knife.

3. Bailer.

4. Paddles.

5. Raft repair kit and pump.

6. Flashlight, batteries, and bulbs.

7. Flare and smoke-signal kit.

8. Seasickness pills and suppositories (critical for life in a raft).

9. First aid kit.

10. One plastic bag per person (to keep a few things dry).

11. Fishing kit.

12. Sponges.

13. Signaling mirror.

14. Survival information booklet.

You can find more about Abandon Ship Bags at:

Gentle breezes,  Folks...!