Whether you’re a thousand miles out in the middle of the Indian Ocean, navigating a tight harbor entrance littered with rocks and reefs, or landing your boat into a narrow slip in 20-knot gusts and three-knot currents, boating presents unique challenges. Circumstances change depending on a boat’s reliability, your crew, the weather, and the boats around you. While boats have grown increasingly modern, with undeniable advances in sonar, radar, power, stabilization, and so on, with these advancements come boats that are equally complicated to understand and troubleshoot. Now, more than ever, it is essential to be prepared before you leave the dock.
To paraphrase an old sailor’s adage, things only fail when you need them most. Take what happened recently to contributors James and Jennifer Hamilton as they left New England, heading for western Ireland just south of The Grand Banks. With over 60,000 ocean miles under their keel, they are as experienced and as prepared as any couple can be on the water, but their boat, Dirona, began taking on water during a gale in the middle of the night (wouldn’t you know), and the engine room was steadily filling with seawater. Forced to make critical repairs in the most trying circumstances, they also faced demons that can be less predictable to manage than “simple” mechanical breakdowns, namely, physical exhaustion and seasickness.
Preparation, such as knowing how to properly install a replacement bilge pump without breaking it—or even to carry spare bilge pumps in the first place—can make or break a voyage. In the Hamiltons’ case, preparation prevented disaster, but even then, it was far from a simple fix.
In the pages of PassageMaker and through years of handson training at TrawlerFest seminars, we strive to continue to place boating knowledge at the top of what it means to be a responsible owner, someone who is accountable not only for the crew aboard ship, but for everyone sharing a love for the water. In order to help boaters control what they can control, we are introducing a new initiative for readers of all our marine publications (the excellent Power & Motoryacht, Angler’s Journal, Sail, Soundings, and Yachts International), to build upon the success of TrawlerFest seminars, and to further that educational outreach to an even wider boating audience. We know from past experiences, close calls, and near misses, that knowledge is your single best ally in boating safety. When things go wrong, as they inevitably do, you will at least be armed with the knowledge to make decisions grounded in expert advice. Our first course is an 11-part series on diesel engines, maintenance, and troubleshooting, and further down the line we will be offering additional classes ranging from onboard medical care to seamanship and traditional navigation.
Visit www.boatersuniversity.com for more information and to register for classes.