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Eyes in the back of your head

Situational awareness is one of the essentials of good seamanship

One of the most important elements of good seamanship - in good weather and bad - is staying alert. It's important to take your head out of the electronics and look around for other boats, wind shifts and a host of potential hazards while underway.Along with life jackets, a VHF radio, the right anchor and ground tackle, and a handful of other safety items, the most important thing you can pack aboard your boat is a mind-set known as “situational awareness.”



Practice, practice, practice

Being ready for anything is the best defense

This 42-foot North Pacific trawler works her way through 12-foot waves and 8- to 10-second periods despite a much gentler forecast.If seeing is believing, seeing is also knowing — knowing what’s happening around you in plenty of time to deal with waves, other vessels, shoals and rocks.



Don’t neglect your seacocks

These humble handles keep the water out

The lever seacock is clearly in the open position, with the handle parallel to the hose.More than 40 percent of boats that sink do so at the dock or on a mooring, and the majority of these can be attributed to water flooding into the boat through an underwater skin fitting, according to insurer BoatUS.

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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.



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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