CHECKING YOUR PORTS AND HATCHES
Unlike most of the boats we personally own in northern climates, charter boats have opening ports on the hull of the boat. These are added to provide better ventilation in the warm trade winds, but they should be checked carefully.
Whenever you weigh anchor or leave your mooring you should first go below and tightly secure all hatches and most importantly the ports. It is amazing how a ‘casually tightened’ hatch/port will allow water to come in. An unsecured port in a close haul situation can cause gallons of water to enter your cabin or head. An open port can result in disaster (I do know of a charter boat that sunk because of this). An unsecured hatch will result in wet bedding and water in the salon and galley. The galley can be wiped up but a night on a wet bed is not pleasant.
Although the people who sail the islands with me are experienced sailors, I have found I still have to be watchful. Last year our friends complained about a leaky head (the boat was only a month old) saying there was water on the floor. When leaving the anchorage the next day, I rechecked the port in their head and discovered it was only shut and not secured. Luckily our winds had been light that previous day.
The lesson I learned was to tell everyone to not only secure the ports in their cabin, but to double check that they are not just closed or loosely clamped, but are really water tight.
Incidentally, it is tempting to open those 'escape hatches' on catamarans, that are just above the water line, under the bridgedeck, particularly as the air funnels into the cabins like a wind scoop. My advice is to NEVER open them, even on a calm night. Some companies seal them shut, which I suppose is not a problem as most people can't fit through those tiny hatches anyway!
Before you leave the base, at the start of your charter, you should check all hatches, ports and their fittings to be sure they are functioning properly. Make sure the screws are not frozen (they often are) and the seals aren't too worn. If there is something seriously wrong, you should have the company correct it before you leave the dock.
Of course your charter will be a wonderful experience, but I wanted to pass along a bit of first hand knowledge to keep it dry and safe!
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||Ed Hamilton & Company
24B US Route 1, Edgecomb, ME 04556
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