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Think Ahead

Chris Fertig - An offshore racer on good seamanship

Preparation and redundancy are important, whether you're spending a day on the bay or racing offshore to break speed records.Being prepared plays a critical role in overall seamanship. Think ahead. Plan. Train. Have patience. Equip with redundancy. These are all simple pieces of advice many old salts preach.

Chris Fertig may not be an old salt, but he has plenty of time on the water.

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Keeping a lookout

A lookout is indispensable when fog limits visibility - it's really easy to come upon another vessel suddenly.It had been a long, difficult trip from Spain, and the crew were restless to get ashore after eight days at sea. This passage was in the days before GPS and modern electronics.

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Be Prepared - Know-how

A soft grounding doesn't always require a tow - know a few tricks to free yourself.Self-reliance is as important as a good tow service. Link to these tips from our experts to MacGyver your way out of trouble:

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Be Prepared - Ready for Trouble

No one should get underway without a basic understanding of the engine.I like my butt. And I like to get it back to shore dry and in one piece. Going on a boat without being ready for trouble is a good way of kissing it — your butt and maybe your boat — goodbye.

What you need to learn and the tools and parts you need to carry aboard depend on the complexity of your boat and how you use it.

But we shouldn’t be on the water without at least a basic working understanding of how to figure out what’s wrong when something is wrong, and how to fix it or at least make do until we get back. It’s not only a part of good seamanship, but it’s also profound good sense.

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Be Prepared - Steering without a rudder

Michael KeyworthIn the fall of 2103, I conducted a series of tests on a modified MK I Swan 44, Chasseur, off Newport, Rhode Island. The goal was to determine the best method and equipment for safely steering in the event of catastrophic rudder failure. After all, it’s not something you want to have to puzzle through once you’re in emergency mode.

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