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Harbour Master's Safety Briefing - September

Harbour Master's Safety Briefing - September

03 September 2021
We have seen an increase in boat fires over this season. One such call for the Cowes Lifeboat took place on 29 August. These have partly been caused by new owners being unfamiliar with basic boat maintenance that ensures their vessels are seaworthy.  I would urge all boat owners to keep up an appropriate maintenance schedule to ensure breakdowns are avoided as much as possible.

Fires generally begin in or around the engine space and can be caused by things like leaking fuel and the resultant build-up of explosive petrol vapours.   Therefore, it is recommended you carry out pre-departure checks and ensure the engine space is kept clean and free from debris.

At High Risk

All boats if not maintained correctly, can develop issues, hence the need to ensure a maintenance schedule is practiced.   Some of the key factors to look out for when carrying out maintenance and checks on your boat are:

  • Worn or damaged fuel lines and hoses especially were they pass through clips or bulkheads
  • Damaged or loose connections / connectors for both liquid and electrical systems
  • Leaking filters, caps or sight glasses
  • Damaged or disintegrating exhaust lagging
  • Obviously damaged engine parts
  • Corroding engine parts near saltwater inlet / outlets
  • Leaking stern glands or shaft seals

Safety Equipment

Onboard safety equipment, especially fire extinguishers, should be present and in good working condition. Inboard engine spaces can have automatic fire suppression system fitted which set off should a fire occur. Fire extinguishers should be serviced regularly to ensure they are effect should they be needed.

Make sure you factor in the cost of maintaining your boat and get it checked over as soon after you have bought it as possible.  Don’t let your investment go up in smoke and more importantly, endanger you or your passengers’ lives.

The RYA website contains further information about Fire Safety on Boats
Also, the Boat Safety Scheme initiative from the Environment Agency and the Canal and Rivers Trust have created a Fire Safety On Boats Leaflet

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