Hey Buddy Can You Spare A Part?

Hey Buddy Can You Spare A Part? Nov 23, 2022
Outdoor toy: pontoon

It is a common summer scene. The local towboat arrives at the marina with a sheepish skipper and an anxious family aboard a disabled vessel. As often as not, a minor problem that could have been repaired on the water is to blame. And just as often, the problem couldn’t be repaired on the water because the skipper lacked basic knowledge and spare parts. Forgetting the boy scout adage, “Be Prepared”, skipper has placed himself and his fam­ily at risk.

Equipment regulations for pleasure craft have been developed over time by the Canadian Coast Guard. They are published in the Safe Boating Guide and are straightforward. The equip­ment that you must carry by law is a minimum requirement to help you in specific emergencies. But, it isn’t necessarily all the equipment you should carry. And, along with any extra safety gear you could use, with a little thought you will realize that there are a number of other items and spare parts that should be on board.

As you review your summer boating experi­ences this year and visit boat shows, make lists of other equipment and parts you may want to have on board. Some of it should be on board any prudent skippers’ vessel. Some items are optional and might only be found on extremely well-equipped boats or those venturing onto the water for extended periods where the crew will have to be self-sufficient. 

Your lists should be split between mechanical equipment, like spare engine and drive train parts, safety equipment such as extra distress signals and health equipment like a well-stocked first aid kit.

There is nothing worse than having to be towed into the dock because you didn’t have a spare impeller on board after you sucked a plastic bag into the pump. Well-equipped first aid kit with basic knowl­edge can mean the differ­ence between cutting a day on the water short, or patching up a small wound and continuing with the day’s boating trip. 

So what should you be looking at when you are planning a spare parts list? 

Start with the basic parts that make the boat go. You don’t have to be a mechanic, but the ability to change a spark plug, a high tension wire or a fuel filter should be second nature. It could save you dollars and an embarrassing tow as well as having to ask someone to spare a part.

boat part - spare parts
Mercury Vensura

It is unlikely you will lose eight spark plugs or a complete set of high-tension wires all at once. Two of each, with the spare wire being the longest you’ll ever need, should hold you in good stead. 

Check over your engine or owners’ manual and make a list of parts that you could change. Then note (on that) list the items that could possibly stop working while on the water. 

Items, like impellers, are crucial to the operation of your boat. It will pay to have spares and know how to change them. One of the most important spare parts you can carry are propellers. Even in familiar waters you can come across flotsam that will destroy a propeller before you know what happened. 

On sterndrives and out­boards, a spare propeller and the ability to change them can keep your down time to a minimum. While inboards present their own problems if you have to change propellers, at least having a spare will keep your time on shore, or with a diver, relatively short. 

You should also carry spares of such items as bulbs for navigation lights, extra lines and even enough fenders to ensure that if you have to raft off another boat, yours will be well-protected. You can never have enough line on board.

It is important to review your cruising area and the type of boating you do and plan to carry extra emergency equipment accordingly.

Emergency equipment is always worthwhile having on board. If you don’t use it on your own boat, chances are that someday you will come across someone else who will need it. 

Boards and compounds to plug leaks are essential. It is easier to stop water flowing into a boat than it is to bail it out. Think about all the places where water could leak in and determine how you would stop it and what equipment and parts you need. Extra hose clamps, wooden plugs, boards with screws already in place to seal a hole, can be stowed close by for an emergency and don’t take a lot of space.

In the health department, make sure you have at least a minimum of first aid gear and make sure you under­stand how to use it. Sunscreen, bandages, oint­ments, pain medication and other items can supple­ment the kit. 

There are a lot of items that you can put in a spare parts kit. In fact, there should be several kits placed in strategic places throughout the boat. 

Lifeline is produced through the Safe Boater Training Program, a certification program for recreational boaters.

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