SAFE-BOAT SMART-BOAT: Inspection, maintenance – Follow a schedule

by Fred Mattera –

It is the responsibility of the captain and crew to inspect and maintain all vessel systems constantly.  For me, a checklist was my means of tracking the maintenance schedule, so I’ve made one here to get you started.

Since I no longer have a vessel to walk through and refresh my memory of the constant visual inspection we all do as we walk from stem to stern, I probably have missed something to inspect, change, or check.

If so, send me an e-mail or call me, and we can discuss your vessel’s maintenance.  For crewmembers reading this article, remember that the captain or engineer may not see everything, so if you see a problem, don’t assume that they will.  Point it out to the captain immediately.  This is prudent seamanship.

Remember:  If you take care of your vessel, your vessel will take care of you.


A qualified Coast Guard-approved marine drill instructor, Fred Mattera of Point Judith, RI is the owner/president of North East Safety Training Co. (NESTCo), which conducts fishing vessel drills and inspections and basic safety training workshops.
A commercial fisherman for 40 years, Mattera is a member of the Commercial Fishing Safety Advisory Committee to the Coast Guard, and, since 1998, has been president of the Point Club, a fishing vessel mutual insurance group. He also has served on the board of directors for Sunderland Marine Mutual Insurance Co., the principal underwriter for the Point Club and more than 2,000 US fishing vessels, since 1998.

When attempting repairs, always be sure that machinery has been turned off and left off so it can’t be accidentally started.

Never lubricate, adjust, or repair machinery parts while they are in motion.  Before beginning work on pressurized hydraulic valves, fittings, or equipment, relieve and/or shut down the system.  In questionable cases, ease the securing nut or fitting slightly before breaking the joint.  If you remove a guard or safety device during

maintenance or repairs, replace it before operating it again.

It is extremely important that the person conducting the repairs tag all secured valves, controls, circuit breakers, etc.  The tag should state that the equipment is not to be started or operated until the repairer gives his approval.