Lately, we’ve been swapping boat-watching with a couple of friends. And when holidays come up or people travel away from their boats, I thought talking about being a boat-watcher was in order.
If you’re going to be away from your boat overnight, it’s a good idea to have someone keeping an eye on it, whether you’re in a marina, at anchor, or in a mooring field as we are. And many marinas and mooring fields require that you designate someone as your boat watcher. For long-term absences, you probably want a professional boat watcher. But for a few days, people generally just do it out of goodwill.
So if someone asks you to keep your eye on their boat, what do you need to know?
- Know their full name and phone number
- Go aboard and learn how to start the engine. Is the engine seacock open or closed? If closed, where is it and how do you open it?
- If at anchor, how does the windlass work? Is there a spare anchor?
- How do you get inside if there seems to be a problem?
- Will you need to watch the battery state of charge? How do you know if the batteries need charging? How should you charge them?
- Is there a watermaker? Will you need to do a freshwater flush? If so, how?
- Where will the dinghy be?
- Do you need to pick up mail or packages, too?
- Find out how long they expect to be gone and make sure that you’ll be around until they are back.
And what should you do?
- Every day, look at the boat and make sure everything is okay with it. Lines good, nothing broken, waterline at the same place.
- If you need to watch the batteries or do a freshwater flush, do it on the agreed schedule.
- If there is a squall, check for chafed lines, dragging anchor, torn canvas, sails unrolling and any other problems after. If you can get inside, check for water leaks and water in the bilge.
- It’s great if you can text periodic photos to the owner to let them know that all is well.
- If it rains, bail out the dinghy if needed.
- Promptly notify the owners of any problems or if you have any questions!
If you are the one who will be gone, it’s a nice gesture to give your boat watcher any food that might otherwise spoil while you are gone, or to give them some other token of your appreciation – especially if they have had to do anything beyond just checking on the boat.
Just one more way that cruisers help cruisers!
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