The Deck Walk

What should I be looking for when I do a deck walk?

The Deck Walk
The Deck Walk, all crew on first joining a boat should do a deck walk the purpose is to identify the safety positions and hazards of equipment on the deck.


Cockpit lockers are generally used for the stowage of spare warps, fenders, mooring lines, ship dinghy, safety equipment, spare parts, spare fuel, water and gas. Each locker and contents should be clearly labelled and contents identifiable.  


Cockpit clip points for use with safety harness and safety line. A safe method of entering or exiting the cockpit from the saloon should be discussed. e.g. A safety line will be secured in the cockpit with its open end available on the companionway, thus crew coming up into the cockpit should clip on before climbing the companionway steps. Likewise exiting the cockpit the safety line should not be unclipped until the crew is safe in the saloon. Similar tactics should be agreed re the helm position and change over.


Jackstays should be identified before leaving the safety of the cockpit, there purpose being to clip into them before standing up and stepping onto the deck. An idea is to give the Jackstays a good tug to demonstrate their integrity. It should be pointed out that crew should not clip into the safety guard wires or stanchion posts, they are not designed to take a shock load.  


Deck organiser controls halyards, reef lines and pennants, main sheet, out haul, spinnaker pole up haul and down haul their labels and how they work should be explained as release or applied tension at the wrong time can cause all sorts of upsets.


Winches (main) are associated with the Jib / genoa sheets, winches (secondary) are smaller and associated with the halyards and deck organiser. Winches may be powered or manual, single speed or two speed.


Manual winches simply means we apply a winch handle to the top of the winch and manually revolve the barrel tightening or loosing the halyard or sheet. Two speed means that by turning it clockwise the gearing of the winch gives you twice the power, turning anti clockwise gives you one to one power.


All winches need to be treated with respect especially when hands and fingers are close to the action. Only the flat of your hand should be applied to the sheet and winch if easing, whilst bring in no fingers should be close to the winch. If a sheet becomes free or wrapped be very aware that their will still be a lot of tension on the halyard.


Winch handles should not be left in the top of the winch when not in use they should be taken out of the winch and placed in the pocket.


Anchor, is stowed in a holder in a ready to go situation, however there is a securing pin which should prevent the anchor from jumping out of the holder. Often you will find an additional securing device associated with the anchor which prevents it from launching itself. The attached chain should be a minimum of 10 metres and if not located round a windlass will be stowed above or on top of the anchor warp. The tail should be attached to the boat in the anchor locker this is called the bitter end.


The anchor warp should be marked at known intervals, to enable easy of assessing the amount of warp being laid. These intervals should be at 5 and 10 metre intervals and a look up table held in the boat papers.


Fenders, these are the plastic sausage shaped balloons that are tied to the guard rail and dangle over the side of the boat to protect the hull. The commonest knot for securing the fender is either a clove hitch or a round turn and two half hitches. In my opinion the clove hitch is the simplest and easiest to adjust to the required height.


Life buoys, MOB recovery system, throw lines and lights, are all safety equipment, we need to understand how they are secured to the boat and how they are released. The life buoy lights should be tested by taking out of their holders and inverting, they should light immediately. Any life saving equipment that is designed to be thrown over board should carry the boat name and MMSI number. It should be noted that if this equipment is lost over board it should be reported to the coastguard or they may think it is you in distress.


Mooring lines, the advantage should be taken to identify how the boat is moored. It should be easy to identify the bow and stern lines and the forward and aft springs their function and purpose can be easily identified.






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GT Yachting October 2012