Winter a great time to catch up with maintenance
Since the beginning of 2019 Tauranga Volunteer Coastguard has attended over 80 call outs, which is an average of 1.5 call outs a day.
Our crew volunteers have given over 570 rescue hours so far and have logged over 15,450 radio trip reports. This has all been done by volunteers who give up their own time to help ensure boaties on the Tauranga waters are looked after.
During the winter months, we at Tauranga Coastguard, see a drop in boating activity. For many people, they choose to park up their vessel and wait for the warmer weather to return. Winter is a good time to do some important maintenance. Whilst this is not an exhaustive list, it can be a starting point.
Clean and check
Clean your boat, it may not be the most glamorous of tasks, but it is worth it. Getting into a boat that is grimy and smelly is no fun, so take the time over winter to look after your valuable asset. Clean and treat any fibreglass or wooden finishes. Check seals and canvas covers for any wear and tear. Clean and drain the bilge, check any seacocks the vessel may have, clean and lubricate them. Check all storage areas, and empty them, leaving them ajar for air flow, this includes your fridge if you have one.
Check your first aid equipment on the boat. This is something that we often purchase, store and forget about. Check expiry dates and look at what needs to be replaced. Also check your fire extinguisher expiry date, if it needs replacing, then do so. Small systems are priced as low as $40 and are essential on a boat.
If the vessel is going to sit for some time, prep your engine. Add a fuel stabiliser and top up your diesel to reduce water vapour occurring. If your engine runs on petrol, run the levels to a minimum as modern fuels can cause engine damage when stored over a prolonged period of time. Also flush your engines thoroughly to remove any salt, corrosion or dirt. Check, and if needed, replace any filters and spark plugs. Also if your boat is on land, remove and store your battery in a cool and dry place, charging every month or so. It may even be worth checking the health of your battery.
Buying for summer
If you are buying a vessel over the winter, ready for the summer, then consider these few things.
Make sure you understand the limitations of your boat, what it is suitable for, what kind of water conditions it can handle, maximum number of people it is suitable for, and most of all know your limitations as well as your responsibilities as the skipper of the vessel. This means ensuring all the necessary equipment is on board and in working condition.
I would encourage all boaties to invest in safety. Safety equipment such as reliable marine VHF units, life jackets/personal floatation devices (PDFs), navigation equipment, Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacons (EPIRBs), and flares, don’t come cheap, but are often overlooked. Not all PDFs are the same, you pay for what you get, and unfortunately for some people they don’t understand this until they are in a life-threatening situation. Going to a specialist boating equipment store, you can get sound advice and purchase products knowing they are fit for purpose.
I encourage you to obtain a Marine Restricted Radiotelephone Operator Certificate. This course teaches how to use Medium Frequency and High Frequency radio operations correctly. Tauranga Volunteer Coastguard offers the MRROC Course for only $70 per person. This course covers routine operation, safety, distress and urgency calling as well as alarm signals. Once you obtain this certificate you are able to purchase a call sign, which belongs to you, and you can then attach a vessel to your call sign. The call sign is yours and you have the ability to transfer the call sign to a different vessel if you ‘upgrade’ over the winter, but it is important to note that legally a call sign can only be attached to one vessel at any one time.
Lastly check your Tauranga Volunteer Coastguard membership details. If you are not a member of Tauranga Volunteer Coastguard, get in contact with us on 07 578 5579 or visit us at 72 Keith Allen Drive, Sulphur Point. Many times we have people in need of our assistance only to face a large assist bill because they had let their membership lapse or had been meaning to get around to it.