"Safety first" - neither a cliché nor a fashionable saying, but rather the saying that guides us in sailing.
In the Capetan application (available for Android if iOS) and during the practice week Hands On Practice, we mention WOBBLE check. What does WOBBLE mean and what does it involve? It's an easy-to-remember acronym to remember when you want to check the security elements of any passage.
W stands for WATER and refers to the salt water filter, the one that helps cool the antifreeze in the engine. For the proper functioning of the cooling system and, of course, the engine, a visual inspection of the water filter inside the engine compartment is necessary before leaving the marina. Proper inspection of the filter involves: closing the salt water inlet, opening the filter cover, removing and properly rinsing the strainer and then reassembling and opening the salt water tap. The tap should be closed so that the salt water cooling system does not become depressurised and premature wear of the water impeller rubber blades is avoided. On charter boats, this maintenance is (or at least should be) carried out by the boat owners. We, as charter skippers, have to visually inspect and make sure that the filter is not clogged - most of the time the salt water filter walls are transparent.
O stands for OIL and involves checking the engine oil level. It is advisable to follow the grade indicated by the manufacturer or the charter, which can be found at check-in. It is mandatory to have spare engine oil on the boat during the charter week, which can be used if necessary. The place on the boat where the reserve is kept is, of course, also at check-in.
B stands for BELT and means checking the engine belts. Depending on the type of engine (because yes, there are quite a few) we can have at least one belt, ending up with engines with at least 3 belts to check. Well, we are interested in checking them all: that they are not pinched, excessively aged or broken and that they have the right tension, so that no belt-driven belt slips. In this way we avoid a lack of proper battery charge or reduced cooling flow. Spare belts are found in the mandatory spare parts kit of the boat, together with oil and diesel filters and water impeller.
B In Romanian it is called santina, we call it bilge. It is located at the lowest point inside the boat, the place that communicates with all boat compartments and is designed to collect any kind of liquid, from any space in the boat. Most of the time there are two bilges: a manual bilge (with a pump located in the cockpit, outside) and an electric bilge (either with a manual switch or an automatic one with a float). When checking we are interested in having no new leaks of any kind in the bilge and testing the operation of the pumps.
L comes from LEVELS and involves checking the level of antifreeze in the expansion tank inside the engine. The expansion tank is transparent and should be clean, like the antifreeze, free of impurities. The presence of a dark colour in the expansion tank can indicate serious engine problems, with not very pleasant consequences. Make sure at check-in that you have spare antifreeze and that you know its location.
E comes from ENGINE/EXHAUST and involves checking, at each start, that there are no bags/parms on the waterline around the boat - to avoid clogging of the salt water cooling trap - and carefully checking the water flow present on the boat exhaust: the water flow must be present and at the optimum level.
So, good guard overcomes bad danger. This WOBBLE represents a minimum of checks that we are obliged to do in order to be sure that the boat is ready to go.
I invite you to the following charter skipper training to find out more about this topic and more.