Check Your Sailboat 'Metal' Insurance Policy for Sailing Safety!

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Do you have a sailboat insurance policy? Or for that matter, a boat insurance policy (if you prefer power boating). Either way, you do need a metal insurance policy.

Now, this has nothing to do with precious metals (although this one could be the most valuable metal at one time or the other), like those sold at rates linked to the stock exchange. Not gold or silver--yet more valuable than either.

Indeed, your Metal Insurance Policy (M.I.P.) should be forged of strong steel, able to protect you, your family, spouse, sailing partner or sailing crew. And do all of this in fair or foul weather. You see, this has nothing to do with the typical paper policy. It's much more valuable.

So what constitutes a M.I.P.?

Your anchors. Note the plural use of the word. One does not cut it. Ever. In any case. You need at least two. If you cruise you need at least three. And here's why...

* Fair weather anchorages can turn foul in a heartbeat if the wind or current shifts...

* Or some bonehead boater decides to put down short rode; drags at 0200 in the a.m., snags your hook and breaks it free...

* Or the protective shore you thought offered safe haven becomes a deadly lee shore and you need to buoy and leave your anchor behind for later retrieval...

* Or your anchorage will soon be visited by heavy weather--and you haven't time to get underway and head out to sea.

This article isn't about anchor choices, anchor size matched to boat displacement (plus freeboard and windage aloft), or other considerations. Plenty has been written on those topics.

But the point remains...

Anchors are one of the most overlooked, taken-for-granted, and un-checked pieces of vital sailing gear aboard most boats. Looking doesn't cut it. You need to inspect the anchor, the weak links (shackles and shackle pins) for integrity, and rode and chain for chafe or potential failure.

Each time before you set sail--or cast off. Day sailing, racing, weekend cruising or distant voyaging. No matter the type of sailing you prefer, take the time and effort to do this each time. Every time. Put it onto your pre-sail checklist. Do it now!

Take five minutes to check your anchor gear (collectively known as 'ground tackle'). Make sure the rode stands ready to run out free or kinks and knots. Spot check rope rode for chafe or wear. Light surface wear may not cause failure, but more than that could. If in doubt--change it out. All of it. Swap out your rope rode for peace-of-mind if you find significant chafe or wear. This will give you peace-of-mind anytime you lower the hook.

Check the shackles, shackle pins, and make sure the shackle pins are lashed ('moused') to the shackle body with wire or heavy waxed sailmaker's twine or marline.

Look inside the eyes that attach rope to chain. Do you see worn, corroded, or chipped thimbles (tear-drop shaped sleeves that protect the rope rode from wear)? If so, replace broken, pitted, worn, or missing parts right away.

Use these simple sailing tips when sailing or cruising. Inspect your metal insurance policies before you go sailing to keep you and your sailing crew or partner safe and sound on the waters of the world.

John Jamieson (Captain John) with 25+ years of experience shows you the no-nonsense cruising skills you need for safer sailing worldwide. Visit his website at www.skippertips.com.

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