Ideally, these should be watertight containers of the type now favoured for packed lunches. Their contents and extent will reflect their proprietor's character, but remember the important maxim, 'If in doubt, take it with you'.
No boat should put to sea without a good supply of screws, bolts, odd nuts, washers, spare blocks, shackles, pieces of inner tube, threaded rod, coach bolts, gasket material, undefinable items and things that go bump in the night. If the weight is a problem and you are cruising you've chosen the wrong boat.
Like first aid and radio operation, fire fighting is a specialised subject. Short courses are offered to sailors in various countries. If you ever have the opportunity to attend one, make use of it. You'll be highly enlightened.
Fire is mercifully rare in yachts at sea, but when it does take hold, its effects can be terrible. An intelligent, defensive attitude to everything that can cause combustion is the only real answer to fire, be it throwing the petrol (gasoline) engine over the side or avoiding deep-frying at sea, no matter what gastronomic temptations it may offer. None the less, there will be occasions in every long-term sailor's life when fire occurs, and that is when only preplanning and precautions can turn a potential disaster into an alarming inconvenience.
All but the smallest boats should have two exits continuously available. If there is a serious flare-up aft, someone trying to get out from the fo'c'sle will be in trouble unless there is a forchatch which can be opened from down below as well as from the deck. Similarly, yachts with seductive aft cabins from which there is no emergency exit should be given a careful inspection, particularly when access to the cabin is gained via the galley. Imagine what would happen if a person were asleep when the cooker turned into an inferno. It has happened, so there is no shortage of precedent.
A fire blanket by the cooker is the best primary protection against fire. Every boat should have one so that a burning pan can quickly be starved of air before it develops into something serious. Suitable extinguishers, as recommended by national authorities (US Coast Guard, or RYA, for example), should be sited at each exit from the accommodation. In the event of a fire emergency all hands should be evacuated safely before the skipper or his deputy reach down for the extinguishers and attempt to fight their way back in. In this context, a large extinguisher in a cockpit locker can be a boat-saver.
If a fire is making ground, you should take all possible steps to decrease the draught fanning it. Once everyone is on deck, close one hatch if you can, then turn downwind.
In a substantial vessel with a full crew, it is advisable to make a PAN PAN radio call (see Chapter 29) while attempts are being made to put out a fire. This may prove impractical in a smaller craft, but it should always be borne in mind that the search and rescue people prefer to rescue living souls than to pick up charred remains.
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Lets start by identifying what exactly certain boats are. Sometimes the terminology can get lost on beginners, so well look at some of the most common boats and what theyre called. These boats are exactly what the name implies. They are meant to be used for fishing. Most fishing boats are powered by outboard motors, and many also have a trolling motor mounted on the bow. Bass boats can be made of aluminium or fibreglass.