Ah the Engine Room, also known as "The Other Holy Place" on a boat or yacht. There's nothing nicer than a well designed, well maintained Engine Room with plenty of space to walk and work around the main engines and gen sets. Painted white and well lit, man that is Top Shelf.
If you've got that set up you're fortunate, but most boats are space constrained in the Engine Room usually in an effort to maximize horsepower or provide more living space. You've also probably noticed that most of the "long in the business" mechanics are smaller guys or they have a small and wiry helper. This is so they can get into those tight spaces and outboard of the engines for repairs or maintenance.
It's not always easy but we encourage every owner to know the lay out and service points of their engine room, the mains and the gen set(s). We also encourage safety, both personal protection as well as ship's safety to prevent flooding.
There are plenty of harmful elements in an Engine Room, Hot Coolant, Fuels, Fluids, Batteries etc and for the most part they're contained where they should be. But always wear Safety Glasses in the Engine Room, whether you're running or shut down at dockside.
If you've got a tight Engine Room, consider wearing our Bump Cap with at least one Light Rail Kit. It'll provide good focused light; hands free and where you need it while protecting your head from low ceilings and machinery parts.
In addition to a fluids check you should also do a visual inspection for loose or broken clamps, frayed or cracked hoses and belts, fuel or fluid leaks and loose or missing bolts. There are plenty of sharp surfaces involved so consider wearing our ER 801 Gloves. They're used throughout the Cruise Ship industry for jobs just like this. They provide a good grip in oily applications, a level of cushioning and moderate cut protection from clamps and other sharp edges. For more serious mechanical work with sharp machined edges use our ER 500's, they feature a Kevlar Stretch liner for superior cut protection while maintaining good dexterity for starting and removing bolts.
If you're in the Engine Room with the Main(s) or Gen Set running you should also wear hearing protection. It makes a lot of sense to keep a pair of our HP 35's hanging on the back of the engine room door. We all know that hearing damage is cumulative and the more we're exposed to machinery noise, the worse the hearing loss over time.
Ship's Safety and Flooding
You've probably all heard stories about a fellow boater or Skipper cruising along and slowly losing speed. Maybe his high water alarm doesn't sound or he didn't notice the bilge pumps coming on.......and when he realizes the speed loss he opens the hatch and sees a foot or so of water in the Engine Room. It happens quite frequently, a blown raw water hose, busted clamps or a through hull is usually the culprit. The level of hysteria is usually correlated directly to the sea conditions. If it's flat calm, it's a way different emergency than having eight footers breaking over the bow.
This is another good reason to be vigil and thorough when you do your visual inspections. Always pay special attention to through hulls, seacocks and raw water hoses. That's where the flooding is most likely to come from. Every through hull below the waterline should be fitted with a through hull emergency plug. Our Thru Hull Emergency Plugs come in assorted sizes (instead of a kit of 4 different sizes) because you've most likely got multiple through hulls of the same size. In addition our Emergency Plugs come pre-fitted with a reusable Twist Tie so you can preposition the plug at the appropriate fitting. So it's there where and when you need it.
Sea-cocks and ball valves should be maintained and exercised at least monthly. It's the proper way to stem the flow of water if you blow a hose or fitting and immediately mitigates the emergency.
We've talked to a lot of folks and its little scary how few people do this. The reason is "they're hard to turn or they're hard to reach". We agree on both counts. That's why we developed the patent pending Seacock and Ball Valve Helper. It's a great tool to provide a better reach, a better grip and better purchase for turning the valve. It also comes with a reusable twist tie so you can make it fast to every seacock or ball valve.
Remember those eight footers? You don't want to be searching for these safety items when you need them the most. So preposition them.
In summary, if you know your way around the engine room and you're prepared for these emergencies you'll leave the dock with more confidence and your time afloat will be more carefree and enjoyable.