These recommendations will help Newport Bermuda Race competitors pass inspection easily—and provide useful guidance for anyone sailing offshore. By James Phyfe, on behalf of sponsor Safe Harbor Marinas.
Of the most anxiety-provoking steps on the path to the Newport Bermuda Race starting line in June, the pre-race equipment inspection ranks right up there in its ability to raise all manner of questions in a new skipper’s mind.
Ask any race veteran, though, and they will tell you that the inspection procedure is neither difficult to prepare for nor something to be feared. In fact, many who have been through it multiple times look forward to the opportunity to showcase their preparation and show off their yacht.
These six tips will go a long way to helping you prepare for and get through your first inspection easily:
- Make contact with an Inspector early. A list of Inspectors may be found on the Official Notice Board. The list is organized by region, so you can select one near your boat and establish a timeline for the inspection.
- Ask questions ahead of time. The time to get your questions answered is before the Inspector visits the boat. If you are not sure whether floorboards qualify as a “heavy object” which must be secured [NBRSR 1.5] (Hint: they do) or whether you may substitute a Personal Locator Beacon for the EPIRB for your second raft (No), ask! Note that many frequently asked questions can be on the website FAQ page.
- Conduct your own inspection. The best way to prepare for the inspection is to first conduct an inspection yourself. The weekend before the Inspector is scheduled to visit, inspect the boat yourself. Lay out all gear to be inspected and provide access to all areas of the boat affected by the checklist, copies of which are found the Official Notice Board for monohulls and multihulls. Ask a member of your crew to conduct a mock inspection with you. Take that person through a guided tour of the checklist on your boat, just as you will with the Race Inspector.
- Pictures can demonstrate compliance. Want to avoid pulling out the storm sails on Inspection Day? Put them up beforehand, and take pictures. This is not only a great way to satisfy yourself that the hanks are not frozen and you have the leads figured out, but it also allows you and the Inspector to save a little time on inspection day.
- Videos are even better! How can you satisfactorily demonstrate that you have selected and practiced an alternative method of steering the boat in the event of a rudder failure [NBRSR 4.1]? Take a video when you are practicing. The Inspector may still want to talk through the details and see the equipment to be used, but at least you won’t have to take her sailing!
- Common sense rules. Remember, all equipment required shall function properly, be regularly checked, cleaned and serviced, and be of a type, size and capacity suitable for the intended use and size of the boat and number of crew [NBRSR 1.4]. This is the “common sense” rule. With each of the required piece of equipment, ask yourself, is this the right size for my boat, and is it stowed in a safe place? That should keep you from pulling out your dinghy anchor on inspection day to meet the ground tackle requirement or lashing your valise packed life raft on deck.
If you’re not entered in the race this year but considering racing in the future—or making any long passage in your boat—we encourage you to familiarize yourself with the Newport Bermuda Race Safety Requirements for Monohulls and for Multihulls.
James Phyfe is Chief Inspector for the 2018 Newport Bermuda Race and Senior Vice President at Safe Harbor Marinas. Safe Harbor is the largest marina company in the United States, with 69 marinas from Massachusetts to California. Safe Harbor invites Newport Bermuda Racers to visit any one of its 24 Brewer Service Marinas in New England to assist with final preparations before the start of the Race or to check over the boat after the return. Safe Harbor Marinas is the Official Boat Preparation Resource of the Newport Bermuda Race.