Boat Safety Checklist For
A Safe Seattle Summer
Seattle is getting ready for another beautiful summer, and as any resident can tell you, there is no better place to be during the summer than the beautiful pacific northwest. Seattle has a very active recreational boating community and as the weather gets warmer, a lot of people will be getting their boats out of storage and heading out to the lakes for some fun in the sun.
Because most people leave their boats unattended during Seattle’s rainy season, it is important to perform a few basic maintenance steps before taking your boat out for its first trip of the season. Anyone who has owned a boat can tell you that even though you covered your boat and left in a safe place during the winter, your boat will not be in the same condition you left it in. Boating accidents pose grave risks that can often be avoided by performing some simple preventative maintenance at the start of the season. Here is a non-exhaustive list of some simple steps to help keep you safe this season.
CHECK THINGS THAT MIGHT HAVE DETERIORATED DURING WINTER.
After you uncover your boat, run a performance check of systems that may have deteriorated over the winter. This check should include exterior wiring connections for navigation lights, dock lines (chafing or freeze damage), life jackets (mold, rotten threads or fabric), paper charts, pipes including cockpit drains may have been subject to ice damage, and hose clamps. While running this check, also keep an eye out for freeze damage.
PHYSICALLY CHECK YOUR RUDDER AND PROPELLER.
Move your rudder and propeller to see how they function. If either of them turns with undue resistance or if there is too much play, diagnose the cause and fix it before taking the boat out on the water. If you suspect there is a problem, try checking the steering and control systems (cables, control box, linkages, hydraulic systems) and replace any swollen, stiff, or rusty control cables you encounter. Also, you should physically inspect your propeller for any cracks or chips.
CHECK ENGINE OIL LEVELS, PARTICULARLY IF YOUR BOAT WAS LEFT IN THE WATER.
Boat owners are often confused or misled when seeing high fluid levels after extended periods of storage. High fluid levels may indicate water intrusion that requires work immediately to save the engine. Severe engine damage can usually be prevented by checking oil reservoirs, including tilt/trim on outboards, some windlasses, and hydraulic fluid in steering systems. If you think that the fluid level has gone up since the boat was put in storage, do not start your engine(s) until you are sure that your engine has not been compromised.
CHECK ONBOARD AND OUTBOARD MOTORS.
Engine malfunctions are the cause of many boating accidents each year, and these malfunctions are often preventable. Before you take your boat out this year, look to see if there are any obvious signs of deterioration or damage to the motors and be sure that you start the boating season off by replacing all the fluids and filters. Before you take the boat out on the water, let the motor idle for at least twenty minutes to cycle the new fluids throughout the system.
PHYSICALLY INSPECT YOUR BOAT’S TRAILER
While boat owners are busy conducting the overwhelming number of safety checks to get their boat summer ready, they will often overlook the condition of the trailer they use to transport the boat. An equipment failure on a boat trailer in transit can lead to devastating injuries and massive property damage. Before towing your boat to the water, you should always check the air pressure in the tires. Do not simply refill flat or leaking tires, replace them. Hook up the power cable to your truck and make sure that all the trailer’s signaling lights are working. Other drivers on the road rely on these lights to know when you’re turning or stopping and when they fail to work, you can get into a car accident.
CHECK AND DOUBLE CHECK YOUR BOAT’S ONBOARD SAFETY EQUIPTMENT
Boating accidents are often unpreventable and happen to even the most prepared and safest people on the water. Prior to any voyage, it is imperative for boat owners’, and the safety of their passengers, to ensure that the boat is equipped with an adequate number of life jackets, a first aid kit, a fire extinguisher, and flares. A boat owner can never be over-prepared for safety because boating accidents can happen at any time. When a boat is involved in an accident, the quality of a vessel’s safety equipment can be the difference between life and death for all involved. If you or a loved on have been involved in a boating accident of any nature, please call The Law Office of Neil T. Lindquist at (425)-372-7799 for a free initial consultation and case assessment.
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