Sailing Equipment Tips

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What kind of sailing accessories can I buy to have fun on the water?

Boat Accessories for Having Fun

Once you sail offshore into deeper water, you can use boat accessories to have fun and also make boating maintenance easier. Here are some items you can get at a discount sailing gear store:

  • Snorkeling equipment: You'll want to buy both snorkeling gear and a mask. This allows you to swim at length and explore the area where you've docked. Make sure you know how to use this type of sailing gear before you leave the store. This sailing item is also great for scubbing algae off the bottom and sides of the boat.
  • Rafts or tubes to relax: Use can also venture off your sailboat and relax in the water. Be sure to carry an inflator for the rafts or tubes you use and that the area where you swim is safe for such water activity.
  • Flippers or fins: These fit on the feet and make it easier to swim and dive below the surface of the water. Adjust the straps before you go into the water. You can use fins in more shallow water to dive down and adjust the anchor of the boat as well.
  • Sailboat ladder: This is convenient if you plan to do a lot of swimming off your sailboat. Kids can jump in the water and safely and quickly return back. A ladder can also be a safety device in that a person who has gone accidentally overboard can more easily get in the boat.
  • Store hammock: If you are going to be taking sailing gear on your boat for enjoyment, consider hammock to store it. It will keep sailing accessories out of the way when it's time to sail.

Never go off your sailboat unless there is a 'buddy' watching you. Swimming alone off a sailboat, no matter how much sailing experience you have, is unsafe.

What type of tools should I carry on my sailboat?

Equip Your Sailboat with the Proper Tools

When you are sailing, you never know when a repair will need to be made to your boat. It's important to have the basic tools on board for such repairs. You should also carry certain types of spare parts in case tools aren't enough.

To operate deck winches, carry the proper type of winch handles. When done using a tool, always store it safely away and in the same place. No one wants to watch their winch fly overboard and out of reach. You might even want to carry two just in case a new crew member forgets to follow this rule. Here are tools every sailboat should have onboard:



*wrenches and a socket set

*wire-crimping tool

*the right size wrenches for your engine if you have one

Check your tools regularly to ensure they are well oiled and keep them in the same place. Mark them as boat tools so they do not get mixed up with other tools and left at home. Wipe down tools after use to ensure they do not suffer damage from wetness and salty air.

Carry spare parts and extra fuses for the movable objects on your sailboat. Carry an extra set of running rigging and nuts and bolts of different sizes. Also carry clamps to secure hoses and lubricating oil if you have an engine. Check your engine manual to obtain a recommended spare parts kit. Check a boat accessories or boat supply store for more information on what you should carry for your particular sailboat.

What are fenders for a sailboat?

Equip Your Sailboat with Fenders

Even the best sailors make mistakes when docking or coming up alongside another boat. You can sustain serious damage to a sailboat hull if you don't equip your boat with fenders. Having your sailboat equipped with adequate fenders is as important as having the right types of rope and sails. Fenders must be of a sufficient diameter to withstand the pressure of your boat coming up against a dock. Fenders also protect your boat from wind and storms that cause it to hit the dock.

A sailing store should be able to help you determine if you have proper fenders on your sailboat. Additionally, carry spare fenders in case someone in another watercraft berths alongside your sailboat without proper fender protection. Fenders do not need to be positioned alongside your sailboat at equal intervals. Concentrate them along the point of maximum width and adjust your mooring lines to accommodate them.

Do not tie a fender to a lifeline, as damage will occur. At a store that sells sailing supplies, you can also purchase a skirt that hangs between the hull and fenders. Another option is buying a long cylindrical fender to hang horizontally or vertically, and that is easy to store. A sailboat equipment store can also show you this type of fender.

What does an abandon ship kit contain?

Keep an Abandon Ship Kit on Your Sailboat

Sailing is supposed to be fun. No one likes to think about a sailboat capsizing. And, likely it won't. But it's good practice to equip your boat with an 'abandon ship' kit, anyway. This kit should be well packed and able to float should it go overboard. Many sailing experts will tell you that staying with your watercraft is the best idea when an emergency happens. But, some circumstances do call for you and your sailing crew to abandon ship. These circumstances include a sinking boat, fire or an unsafe vessel. An abandon ship kit may be one of the most important sailing accessories you carry.

Here is what this kit should contain: A hand-held VHF radio that is waterproof or packed in a waterproof case; blankets for hypothermia; a filled water bottle (check regularly to ensure freshness); a compass; supplies for fishing; basic tools and a first-aid kit.

In your first-aid kit, carry these items: seasickness medication, sterile bandages and anti-bacterial soap and ointment, sunblock and directions on treating basic illness and cuts.

This kit will vary according to the type of sailing you do. If you plan an offshore trip, carry more supplies including more snacks. Make sure your kit is in a floatable device -- even the best abandon ship bag is usless if it sinks before you can grab it.

What type of safety equipment should I have on my sailboat?

Equip Your Sailboat With Proper Life Rafts

The type of life rafts you carry on your sailboat will vary depending on the type of sailing you do. If you sail a dinghy, it can act as a raft since it will maintain buoyancy even if it takes on water. But you decide to venture offshore--or do any type of long distance sailing--you should consider life rafts an essential part of your boat gear.

If you venture into rough seas or cold water, you should have a life raft that is capable of offering you and your crew complete protection from the water, not just a way to hang on until help comes. Even what most sailors consider warm water will draw heat away from the body and cause hypothermia quickly. Many life rafts, sold at sailboat equipment stores, also come with a canopy that will protect you from the sun. Additional features of these rafts include the ability to be instantly inflated, safety lines ringed around the edge, and a type of 'anchor' that hangs beneath the raft to hold it near the vessel that has capsized.

Depending on the type of sailing you do, you may not need this type of sailing gear. But, never assume the worst won't happen when sailing. It is better to be over-protected than under-protected when sailing. Additional safety sailing supplies include life vests for each passenger, safety harnesses and a throwable life ring or sling for pulling someone back to the boat. These items are essential even if passengers are good swimmers. Keep in mind anyone who goes overboard is likely to weak from fear, fatigue and water temperature.

What types of equipment failures can happen on a sailboat?

Typical Equipment Failures on a Sailboat

Here are the most likely sailboat failures from a leading expert:

Turning blocks: Often a spinnaker or genoa sheet leads aft through a block and forward to a winch. If the shackle lets go, the rig will fly with great force so you should never stand forward of the turning block or in the loop where both parts of the line go forward.

Line breakage: Any place where chafing occurs can cause a line to break and serious injury can result. Watch for these places and protect them from breaking.

Main Boom Gooseneck: This universal joint that connects the boom to the mast carries heavy strain and so booms can rip off the masthead and fly forward. This can cause fatal injury. In heavy winds, walk forward or aft along the windward side of the boat.

Spinnaker: This pole can splinter causing similar problems and injuries.

Any place on the sailboat that receives strong force has a chance of breaking, especially in difficult sailing conditions. Check this sailing equipment carefully before and during your trip.

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