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Equipment Selection and Financing
Sailboat Selection - The First StepYour initial task is to prepare a forecast of revenues and expenses. Boat selection decisions will logically follow the development of your Comprehensive Five-Year Plan. This five-year financial forecast of revenues, expenses, and replacement costs should be the first step. Remember, it's up to you to get the most for the money. The forecast is nothing more than a description of the entire program, outlining initial costs, projected revenues, and maintenance numbers. It's nothing that a little spreadsheet analysis software can't handle.
Factors to ConsiderBut before you spend members' or taxpayers' dollars on what locals swear is the only proper vessel afloat, you should be aware there are a great number of boats out there, each with its own positive and negative attributes. What may be perfect for one area simply won't work in another due to local conditions. Serious thought must be given to the proper selection of the type of boats to use.
A great number of factors come into play. The sailboats you choose for use in your program should be:• Designed for sailors of all age/skill/strength levels.• Equipped to economically and effectively teach at all levels of competence.• Commercially marketable at replacement time.• Warranted by a responsible factory/dealer network.• Safe enough to minimize safety boat/personnel/insurance costs.• Popular or profitable as a rental boat.• Suitable for extended season programming.• A good financial risk for program funding sources.
The importance of boat selection in the overall picture of your program cannot be emphasized strongly enough. It is critical!The physical limitations of your sailing center location may play a big part in your selection. Depth and size of the body of water, water temperature, pollution levels, strength of breezes, are all vital. Consideration must also be given to whether slips, moorings, dry storage, hoists, a beach, or boat ramps are available, because these determine the type craft you purchase and use. Then there's the question of seasons. Very few communities can offer sailing year-round, but it's no longer just a "summer" sport either. If there's snow, skiers will ski. So, too, will sailors if there's no ice. 'Frostbite' sailing is extremely popular in many parts of the nation. Planning should address the financial opportunities afforded by such an extended season. Also bear in mind initial boat selection may "lock in" the types of operations you can offer for as long as you own the boats. Carefully consider who you'll be teaching to sail, and how, and who you'll be renting to. Not everyone is comfortable alone aboard a Sunfish. Conversely, the adventurous types can't wait to challenge the wind and even suffer a knockdown or two.
Marketing:In marketing any product, the primary task is to build awareness. Draw attention to what you are trying to sell. Ultimate success is a function of conversion rates from there. If, out of every 100 people aware of your program, l0 write for information, and if, out of those 10, three sign up, the math is simple. Double awareness and you'll double sign ups. How do you double awareness?
Create Excitement & Challenge (either real or imagined):In 1975 a program with a successful track record adopted this approach and selected four exciting craft available at the time: Windsurfers, Sunfish, Hobie 16s and Olympic 470s. The dramatic shots of each boat under high-speed sailing conditions with women and children aboard were used in program literature and press releases to convey that this was a fun, challenging, exciting, and even 'dangerous' sport that anyone could master. These boats worked because most of the sailing was done off-the-beach except for the 470s, which functioned as the boats for weekday evening advanced racing courses out of the local yacht club. This is a two-month program because the water is cold, and these are "wet" boats to sail, good for bathing suit sailing.
Recent analysis shows that a program using exciting, modern 20-24 foot keelboats, which call carry 1 instructor per 4 students, can be very profitable. Such boats can justify higher lesson and day rental fees, for longer periods in the sailing season. Customers can wear normal street clothes, just adding boat shoes and proper weather protection. However, remember keelboats will require greater depth of water for operation, more storage space and maintenance, and a greater outlay of capital. Fortunately for sailing as a sport as well as for community sailing programs, the best performing boats have the most staying power in the market because they are in great demand, both new and used. These are the boats which not only deliver performance, but are also the ones purchased by experienced sailors for their own, personal recreation.
Include EveryoneDon't let your boat selection "turn off" major segments of your potential market. Not everyone wants to learn sailing on a windsurfer or in a bathing suit on a catamaran or dinghy. Nor will there be universal enthusiasm for hanging over the windward side attached only by their ankles.
Most community sailing programs have come to the realization that the primary market for optimizing instruction and day rental revenue is the adult male and female age group between 25 and 50. On the other hand, youngsters can't be ignored, either. They're the Olympic sailors of tomorrow.
Keep in mind there is a strong interest among people exposed to the sport to sail, charter, or own boats outside the organized club or community sailing program. Their love of sailing is expressed by their desire to spend day after day just sailing.
If your program's boats aren't the same as the ones people want to sail, your revenues will suffer in two important ways: Fewer people will be attracted to .join at the front end, and fewer people will stick around for rentals and to bolster the "club atmosphere'' at the other.
Let's bracket the range of options and develop within each extreme a method to further define which boats tire right for your community sailing program.
Youngsters Sailing AloneTraditionalists in the sailing world believe that sailing instruction programs are only for children. That's because sailing club courses are aimed primarily at the children of people who already know how to sail.
Community sailing programs, on the other hand, reach out to people who never learned as youngsters. While adults are a top priority, a comprehensive program should include the 8-12 set.
More and more programs are switching to lightweight singlehanded boats for their young beginners because they learn both crew and helmsman skills more quickly. Several off the beach operations run successful group instruction using the Sunfish. If cold water and too much wind are problems in your area, the International Optimist Dinghy works very well in these conditions. This is a stable "sit-in" pram type of boat that has been the mainstay of Florida youth sailing programs and has spread to other areas of the country.
Unless youngsters get singlehanded experience, there's some question whether they've really learned. The same is true of adults, so some of these same boats can be used for initial adult instruction as well. Even in winter, YMCA sailing and boating programs have used Sunfish at indoor pool sessions.
Family DaysailingAt the other end of the spectrum are boats that can be rented for family day cruising throughout the full sailing season. Requirements of safety, toilet facilities, and protection below decks are added to boat selection criteria. Some idea of what seems to work best can be determined by taking a traffic census on weekday evenings and on weekends. Count the boats out sailing in your area with family or crew configurations that generally fit your program's needs. Consider one of the higher-scoring boats as a cornerstone type for your sailing center. After all, why try to out-think the consumer who's clearly demonstrating the type boat he's willing to spend money on'?
Economically Equip Your BoatsAre you planning to instruct your students in the fine points of mainsail trim and mast bend adjustment'? Use of a jib? Hoisting the spinnaker? What about reefing and heavy weather survival? Racing? Il' you are, the boat(s) you select should be equipped accordingly. Otherwise, the courses you offer will be limited to elementary instruction. On the one hand, with basically equipped craft, you may be missing (Jut on "continuing education" opportunities and advanced skills classes. On the other hand, it would be foolish to spend extra dollars to properly equip a heavy-weather vessel il' you're never going to offer instruction on that subject or your body of water never "kicks up." Keeping the equipment simple will reduce hazards for the casual sailor and make it easier to sail the boat.
"Institutionalizing" Your BoatsExperience has shown that sailboats are not usually designed and built for the heavy and sometimes insensitive use they will encounter in public programs. By modifying or "institutionalizing" them you can achieve significant improvements on extending the life cycle and reducing maintenance expenses. Some modifications should be done when the boats are built, and others can be done inhouse.Before you place your order with the manufacturers or their representatives, let them know how the boats will be used and maintained, the number of years you expect to use them, and discuss what cost-effective modifications can be made to "institutionalize" the boats. When going through this process also include modifications that will either identify the boats with your program or make it easier lot the casual sailor to sail the boats. Your relationship with the manufacturer and dealer is a key element in making your program a success.
Consider some of the following modifications working for other programs:
1) For boats that will operate from docks, reinforcing parts of the hull that will make contact with the dock during "crash" landings or when the boat is tied will help reduce fiberglass repairs. Rubber fender strips will help reduce damage to the hull.2) For boats that operate off beaches reinforce the fiberglass bottoms, and possibly add some runners or skids that will take most of the wear when launching or moving the boats on the beach.3) To increase the life of your sails have them made from heavyweight Dacron (1 oz.heavier than normal for the class) with extra reinforcement. It's also a good idea to have the battens sewn into the sail pockets to avoid losing them. For self-rescuing dinghy types, consider adding buoyancy to the head of the sails to prevent "turtling" of the boat in a capsize.4) For many casual sailors, the sail is the only aesthetically significant part. Using sails that have a unique and highly visible color will identify your boats to the public and will make it easier for your staff to keep track of them on the water. If two types of boats are used in the operation, they should have different colored sails. For instance, Wilmette uses bright orange (solid) sails for its Sunfish fleet, and bright green sails (solid) for its Hobie 16 fleet. Visually tracking boats is only possible with this sail system. Once a color has been selected, you should stay with that color. In this way old sails serve as backup for new ones. To insure that ONLY your program owned boats are the ones with your chosen sail color on the water don't sell old sails to someone in your area. Be sure to check the manufacturer's current and future sail colors. Reasonable rates are often available from makers who specialize in commercial operations.5) When new boats are purchased and will be used with special colored sails, it is still a good idea to include the regular stock sails with the order. The added cost is marginal and the resale value of the boats will be higher if you can offer them with new, unused sails.6) Successful modifications to Hobie 16s include having the mainsails cut shorter to provide more headroom and the leech of the jibs cut hollow and made without battens (but with heavy tabling or edging). These alterations make tacking easier for the casual sailor and will allow lessons and rentals in heavier weather.7) Consider removing the boom yang to eliminate a hazard to the casual sailor.8) Make modifications that will prevent boats from turtling. Recovering a turtled boat can take significant staff time and puts added strain and wear on the boat. Install a flotation panel (1/2" to 3/4" thick closed-cell foam) at the top of the sail or an 8" float at the top of the mast. Masts filled with foam also prevent turtling and are much faster to right after a capsize because the masts won't fill up with water.9) For off the beach operations, ball-bearing travelers tend to clog with sand; this won't happen to old-fashion sliding travelers, although they do have a shorter life.10) Add retaining clips to the rudders to prevent them from falling off and getting lost.11) Fittings that attach the rudder to the hull and the area of the hull in way of the fittings arc common failure points on most boats. Use high quality, heavy duty gudgeons and pintles, and reinforce the hull in way of these fittings. Use a system that allows you to replace the damaged fittings quickly.12) Hiking sticks are another common failure. No matter how strong they are or how sophisticated their universal fittings may be, they are guaranteed to break. Some programs think that cheap (under $2), simple wooden hiking sticks are the way to go. They are easy to replace and the price is right. Keep a ready supply on hand.13) Use quality heavy duty fittings; it usually doesn't pay to use cheap ones. And make sure the backing plates are extra strong.14) Keep the mechanical advantages low on any systems that need them to reduce the strain on the boat and its fittings.15) When purchasing fiberglass boats, bear in mind that white hulls (including decks) require less maintenance, repairs are easier and faster, and the boats will look better in service and for resale with white-on-white repairs. Color matching is difficult, costly and sometimes impossible.16) Although boat covers seem like a luxury item, they help keep the boats looking like new with less maintenance.17) You may want to identify your program's boats with numbers on the hull or by using special stripes on the hull or deck.18) If your boats have wood rudders or centerboards, covering them with fiberglass and/or epoxy resin will help to reduce maintenance.19) Paint the bottoms and rudders of your dinghies with a unique, highly visible color to make it easier to track them if they capsize or turtle.20) Put marks on halyards to indicate the full) hoisted position so they will not be hoisted too high and damage the fittings.21) To prevent fiberglass rudders from sinking build them with closed-cell foam. If using stock rudders (such as Lasers) install 3/8' wetsuit material on the heads to make thenJ buoyant.22) Add continuous fenders on piers and docks.23) To prevent stopper knots on halyards, down hauls, vangs, etc. from coming undone, put whip the bitter end to the standing line after the knot has been tied.24) Tape cotter pins and rings to prevent damage to sails or coming undone.25) On keelboats store the mainsail on the boon inside a large cover to minimize wear. Built-In Safety Factors:a) The importance of safety must always be emphasized. It strongly influences your staff's time, your ability to obtain reasonable insurance coverage, the program's future image, and your sleep at night. Basically, safe boats (a) stay together, (b) can be easily operated by youngsters in high wind conditions, (c) have good stability or can be quickly righted by even the smallest sailor and (d) have primary and secondary defenses against sinking.
The selection of boats that compromise any of these important safety factors leads to the imposition of strict operational limits, increases in safety boats and rescue personnel, and a marked reduction in rental revenues. After all, no one wants to stay within sight of the lifeguard. Sailing is the great "freedom" sport. It "takes you away," sings Christopher Cross.
If the manufacturer cannot document safety and stability tests, conduct your own. Pull the boat over its side in the water (90 degrees of heel). Ideally it will try to right itself. If so, how many pounds of effort does it take at the top of the mast to keep the boat down?
Conversely, some boats due to their open cockpit, will try to "turn turtle." In these cases, how many pounds of effort does it take to keep the boat up?
It really does not matter what boat you are testing. Simply multiply the effort by the length of the mast to obtain the "foot-pounds of righting moment." The numbers you obtain from different boats is a way of comparing stability and righting ease.
Did the boat take on water when it was pulled over to 90 degrees?
If so, how difficult was it to bail out and continue to sail? Did it start to sink or does it have flotation chambers?
Turn the boat upside down in deep water. Will it stay upside down or does it try to right itself? Does the centerboard' slide out of its trunk? How much more difficult is it to right the boat when the sail is full of water? Can a 10-year-old do it?
Thoroughly cover all the emergency procedures likely to affect your students, and make sure the boat meets all your safety criteria.
Ask the manufacturer for a certified listing of all known capsizes, sinkings, and lossof- life cases associated with the boat you are considering for your program. Find out what preventive steps might have been taken to avoid the accident(s). This is useful background material for your courses. Making people aware of the inherent dangers is the first step in boating safety.
Keelboats, apart from better stability, may have two other important safety features: (1) a self-bailing cockpit design with no openings below deck level in the cockpit and centerline openings in the deck that do not fill when the boat is knocked down, and (2) built-in buoyancy tanks or flotation devices to prevent sinking if hatches are left open.
For multi-sail vessels, determine the ability of the boat to sail under complete control with the mainsail only, jib only, or with main and jib reefs in heavy weather.
The protection and warmth of a cabin may prove critical in preventing hypothermia in wind and rain. Yes, even in summer it happens to day-rental people who leave port with light clothes and no foul weather gear. You may also want to consider the use of VHF radios or other communication devices. The U.S.C.G. will provide you with a list of required safety equipment, as well as additional recommended safety equipment for rentals and charters. Safety should be your foremost consideration in the purchase of any boat you will use in your community sailing program. Remember the people operating those boats are not experienced sailors accustomed to coping with emergency situations.
Financing Your Selection There are five basic methods for acquiring the craft you select for your program. Each has advantages and disadvantages.
Purchase -- The obvious approach is to buy the boats outright. That way, they are yours to do with as you please. They belong to your program. Short of plunking down several thousand dollars, there are various financing packages available through banks, municipal credit unions (especially if you're working through a Parks and Rec program), and independent financial institutions. A few short phone calls should answer all your questions on interest, terms and insurance requirements.
One other consideration is to seek financing assistance through your dealer or manufacturer. Most manufacturers and virtually all dealerships have access to credit programs of one sort or another, including such industry giants as GMAC, GECC and HFC.
After all, you're spending a lot of money, so they should be more than anxious to assist you in any way they can. It is even possible the manufacturer can secure more favorable terms than you could on your own.
The drawbacks are obvious. The boats depreciate over a period of time. You must maintain them in like-new condition. You must provide the insurance coverage. And you have to worry about replacing them when the time comes. Outright ownership is not all it seems.
Lease -- Another option is a straight lease or lease/buyback arrangement, although programs of that nature are not always available through every dealership. As with cars, office equipment, or home furnishings, you lease the boats for a specific period of time, and when the term has expired, the equipment is either replaced, or, for a predetermined buyout figure, becomes your property. Period.
Built-in safety factors are critical to an operation's success on the water, not to mention its ability to obtain masonable insurance coverage.
Highly visible sail and boat colors -- including bottom paint -- will help staff safely track your fleet.
By modifying your sailboats you can extend their life cycle and reduce maintenance expenses.
Depreciation, "normal" wear and tear, and/or repairs are generally covered by a lease, as is insurance. On the other hand, routine maintenance, adequate protection, and what is defined as "reasonable" usage are still your responsibility.
Student Purchase/Leaseback or Dealer Demo -- These two acquisition methods are quite a bit more palatable than the former pair of options. Both a student purchase/leaseback plan and a dealer demo program offer many more benefits than they do drawbacks.
Under the student purchase program, the aspiring sailor purchases the boat from his or her favorite dealer outright, then leases it back to your community sailing program at a rate favorable to both of you. The benefits are enormous.
First, the student (generally an intermediate or advanced sailor) has his own boat, which he'll be understandably proud of. And while it's true other students will be sailing his pride and joy, they will be doing so under close supervision so his investment is reasonably well protected.
You should have virtually no maintenance to worry about with the boat unless your students have an accident. The owner will take care of the maintenance. And the owner will be able to take his own boat out at night or on weekends when it isn't scheduled for classes. Best of all, your owner is in effect getting one heck of a discount on his purchase. You're making nearly all his first year's payments!
Yes, you do have to carry insurance for his boat, and make sure your other students show the proper respect for someone else's property, but in the long run it is an excellent way to keep your fleet in "almost new" condition at a minimum of program expense.
The second favorable option, the dealer demo program, is probably the most desirable way of acquiring boats available to community sailing programs. Cost is very near zero! Approach your local dealer, or go direct to the manufacturer and propose that they "lease" you a fleet of boats for one year to use in your sailing program. The "lease" is for the staggering sum of $5-$10 per year-per boat, or less!
At the end of the year, the dealer gets his boats back, which he in turn can sell as "demonstrators" for under list but over cost. You, of course, must maintain and insure the craft, but you'd have to do that in most cases anyway.
Under this plan, the dealer's making money and you're bringing more people into the sport who will very possibly buy one of his boats after graduation. If he's smart, he is using his "contribution'' to your program to get his name in front of the prospective buyer through his own promotional efforts. It is a viable commercial alternative for everyone involved. (There's more on the student purchase/leaseback and dealer demo programs in Boat Replacement Strategy.)
Donations -- Finally, there are boats donated to your program by former students who are moving up in size, or individuals who simply no longer need the boat for one reason or another, or as a write-off. With the new tax laws, however, that type of donation is probably less attractive than it was. Donations may or may not be good for your program. You certainly do not need a broken-down Laser that's more trouble to keep afloat than it's worth.
Donated boats can be a huge headache. "Let the buyer beware" applies here.
Factories and Their Warranties: Factory warranties are no better than the people who offer them. Their validity can be readily obtained by talking to existing owners of the brand you are considering.
The best remedy for warranty headaches is to purchase a known, proven boat from a reputable builder who's been in business lor a number of years. Otherwise, you had better consider other means of protecting yourself from design and manufacturing defects. Lloyd's may write such an insurance policy, but don't bet on it!
It doesn't do any good to file a lawsuit against a small backyard boatbuilder whose total assets consist of several barrels of unpaid resin and a handful of mounting screws. The larger manufacturers generally acknowledge defects in their products and make good on repairs even after the expiration of the "official" warranty period.
These boatbuilders also usually maintain a substantial inventory of proprietary or custom equipment and hardware (not available at the retail level) and a customer service department that operates from 9 to 5 and can ship a replacement part "next day air" if necessary. Either demand this from the manufacturer or find a dealer who will commit to inventor3, backup of any critical parts.
Otherwise, it may take quite a while to find or custom make a new mast, rudder, stem-head fitting, or whatever.
All reputable boatbuilders and dealers can and will tell you what is most likely to go wrong with their product and what they are prepared to do to correct the problem. Go in with your eyes wide open and ask pertinent questions. Don't allow yourself to be "swayed" by a smooth talking salesman.
Relationship with the Dealer: This relationship is a mutually dependent one. The program's ability to "turn over" its fleet is dependent on the wholesale pricing and support it gets from the local dealer. And without a first-rate dealer nearby, a program is faced with carrying inventories of parts and materials, which makes the financial and administrative management much more difficult.The community program is able to present clear and reasonable boat options to the sailors without any hint of collusion or profiteering. It makes the new sailor aware of the advantages of selecting a boat that is common to the area and for which there is strong dealer support.
The dealer, for his part, can offer prices that reflect his heavy volume and his concern for repeat business. The dealer's facility is also a good place for communicating with the sailing community at large. A few key recommendations:• Work with the dealer to insure the timing of purchases is ideal from both the dealer's and the program's perspective. Prices range so dramatically that decisions should be adjusted to this factor.• Avoid inventories as much as possible, but stock the "most vulnerable" parts which can put a boat out of service. Consider including a parts order when you purchase your new boats. Experience can guide these decisions, but special expertise is necessary with each class of sailboats. Access to spare parts on weekends is essential.• If a local dealer with a well-developed inventory and hours on weekends is not within 15• minutes, cultivate a special relationship with the manufacturer's rep in the area. Some of the pressing emergencies may be handled through this avenue. He should value your business because the visibility of his product (especially among new enthusiasts) is dependent on your program.• Assuming the dealer has earned your support, be sure your staff directs new patrons to the dealer in a responsible and guarded fashion. This is best done by promoting the reasons for keeping the number of boat types limited rather than appearing to act as an agent for the dealer.• If more than one class of sailboat is used in the program be sure that one dealer carries them. Playing one dealer against another is fraught with problems and is ill advised. Boat Replacement Strategy: Everything so• far leads to this point: updating your fleet. Have your replacement plan firmly developed before you invest in anything. Be wary of gifts. Go commercial, or your entire community sailing program can fail.
It is important a program uses boats with immediate market demand. To get this demand started in Wilmette in 1975 (its infancy), the local dealer provided two Hobie 16s and four Sunfish for the annual rental fee of $1.00. But there was a "catch." A small sticker inside each boat said "Courtesy X Sports" with a phone number. Instructors were asked to send referrals to the dealer when the students wanted to buy their own boats. Presto. The Wilmette Park District had new boats every year and the local dealer tripled sales.That's a replacement strategy that virtually eliminates maintenance. You can bet the dealer had a spare parts inventory with priority for the Park District. Nobody is going to buy boats that fall apart.The real key is to avoid "odd ball" boats with little or no market value. Market demand is what sustains resale value.Seek ways to cycle boats through your program at a frequency of better than once every three seasons. Five-year lease programs with premature buyout incentives are another way for program participants to stay ahead of the game. But it will only work if people want to own the boats you have selected.An arrangement that has worked well in a number of programs is an advance sale/school leaseback plan with the buyer/student owning the boat at season's end for well under list price. These "advance" owners tend to have more interest in how the boat is maintained, particularly if they are given the chance to participate in the Wednesday night regattas or sail weekends when the boat is not needed for instruction. More often than not, the student/owner does volunteer maintenance on his/her boat to assure that it will be in "like-new" condition at season's end.Good manufacturers are aware of the commercial value community sailing programs present in creating "consumer trial horses" for their products. Participants, having gained confidence in a specific brand or type of boat, are more likely to buy one from the same company in the future.
The business-oriented program administrator will take advantage of marketplace realities by contacting manufacturers and dealers in advance for their proposals and guarantees about replacement plans. If they know that in 3 to 5 years you will be back for another fleet, they will be more inclined to offer you a highly competitive purchase replacement program.
Safety Boats: These are the powerboats to be used by the instructors during on-thewater instruction and also for rescue operations. Generally speaking, small maneuverable outboards provide the best service and performance. Other types of power boats, such as inboard launches, will give adequate service. Key criteria for safety boats:• Adequate quantity. For on-the-water instruction, figure on one powerboat for every 8-10 sailboats.• Durability and reliability.• Low freeboard to make it easy to reach into the water and bring people aboard from the water.• Stability to handle people working over the side and off-center loading.• Maneuverability.• Able to perform in adverse conditions.• Adequate towing power and a strong point to fasten tow line.• Lined with fenders on sides and bow.• Hull and engine should be easy to maintain.• Enough power for towing, speed, economy, and emergency (should have a carrying capacity for operating crew and several people). Stress reliability. During the course of a season, your safety boat will occasionally be out of service so have a contingency plan ready.
Other Equipment: Radios -- A radio system is an integral part of a sailing program. Radios provide a means of communication between safety boats and a link between them and your land base. Train your staff in the procedures for proper use of this equipment.Establish specific guidelines governing the use of radios and be sure staff members follow them.There are pros and cons to each type of radio system. Cost and licensing are just two considerations. Choose a system enabling you to communicate with other water-based organizations in your area: police, Coast Guard, harbor patrol, marina, clubs, etc.There are two basic systems to consider, CB and VHF. Both are governed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). CB.' You can use Citizens Band (CB) radios without a radio operator's license or permit. The FCC rules for CB operation are covered in the FCC Rules, which can be purchased from the U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC 20402. You do not have to give call letters or keep records of your transmissions. Channels are often crowded with poorly disciplined operators. VHF: A better alternative is a Very High Frequency (VHF) marine radio. Most boats, sailing clubs, boat yards and harbor masters use VHF radios. Every VHF radio transmitter must have a station license which is obtained using FCC Form 506 and renewed every five years using FCC Form 405-B.o Hand-held VHF two-way radios are usually operated as mobile units of a boat or shore based VHF station license. To operate a VHF radio legally you must be at least 14 years old and have an PCC restricted radiotelephone operator permit (RP). No test is required, and the RP is issued for your lifetime. All of the FCC rules for operating marine VHF radios are contained in FCC Rules and Regulations, Volume IV.o The holder of the license for a boat radio station must keep a log. You cannot transmit from a boat station if your boat is on land or on a trailer. You must give the FCC call sign of the station you are transmitting from at the beginning and end of each message. Entries for the log should include date, time, unit or station contacted, nature of call, and time call was completed.
Storage of EquipmentGive careful consideration to how you store your equipment. Store it so damage and loss is minimized, and the gear is readily available when needed. Large open storage areas with movable racks, cabinets, and trailers are preferable to permanent storage facilities.Store large equipment items, such as boats and vehicles, so their storage position corresponds to their use. Items used the most need to be stored in a convenient location. When possible, store boats on roll-around racks to eliminate trailer congestion. Store loose equipment and small items, which are part of the equipment described above, on racks close to where the equipment will be used, or on portable racks. Construct these racks so they can withstand considerable wear and tear as well as protect the gear.Store valuable equipment in secure cabinets or lockers. Access to these items should be limited to chosen personnel by a system of prioritized locks.Have a separate storage facility off site for equipment used seasonally or infrequently.
MaintenanceMost programs find that 10-15 percent of their equipment will be out of service at any one time. The goal of any maintenance program is to keep this percentage to a minimum while maintaining in-service equipment at its peak of condition. The maintenance schedule will be influenced by your mode of operation (seasonal versus year-round, and length of season), and the intensity of use the boats experience.
Routine Maintenance: Routine maintenance ensures general cleanliness and identifies potential problems. Institute a regularly scheduled maintenance check of facilities and equipment.Weekly -- general wash and scrubbing of equipment. Clean dirt and sand from moving parts. Inspect for sign of wear and damage.Monthly- Polish and wax fiberglass surfaces. Clean, oil or varnish wood surfaces Lubricate moving parts.Yearly -- Replace parts that are wearing excessively. Major rebuild of moving parts. Any major paint, gelcoat or varnish work.
Maintenance Log: Create a log listing the facilities and equipment. In the log, track the condition of each item, its maintenance schedule, and what type of work was done. Not only will a detailed log provide a record of what was done and what needs to be done, but it will help you defend yourself should anyone question the condition of your equipment. Certain equipment, including every sailboat and power boat, should be monitored daily throughout the season. Daily status reports should be part of your master log.Examples of ltems in the Log Building and grounds Docks and floats Ramps Hoists Training/Rental boats Power/Safety boats Teaching aids Radios
Repairs: Develop a system which fixes unusable equipment quickly and gets it back into service with the least possible down time.1. First priority -- Repairs that render an item useless should be tagged by the person who detects the problem, and then documented and repaired by the Maintenance Manager.2. Projects- Repairs affecting the quality of ear use of a piece of equipment, but which do not render it useless, should be documented and prioritized according to availability of spare parts and funds.3. Parts: To facilitate quick repairs, pans must be readily available in-house or through local dealers/manufacturers. The initial budgeting for an item should include an initial parts stock as well as a yearly figure for maintaining the stock.4. Tools: Proper tools are a basic part of the basic equipment package for a boating program. These tools, in the hands of an experienced person, will ensure repairs are made correctly and quickly. Tool supplies should be centrally located and controlled. Convenient storage of the tools will facilitate quick deployment and return of the tools (reducing the amount of supervision for their return, and funding for replacement of lost tools).5. Equipment Design: Ease of repair and maintenance depends on the design of the equipment. A higher quality, more expensive item may cost more initially, but it often lasts longer, requires less maintenance, and proves to be cheaper in the long run.
Risk ManagementSafety is an integral part any program. Even the most organized program faces the inevitable risk of an accident. Accident management must be discussed and reviewed periodically. Draw up a set of accident procedures and reactions for the staff to follow. Protect your program from liability, because it is best for the students and for you.
Equipment: As discussed in the maintenance section, all boats should be checked after each class and rental, and again at the end of the day. If a boat is determined to be unsafe, it must be taken out of use immediately and fixed before it returns to service. All repairs should be entered in a log book.
Injury: Establish a procedure to deal with any injury before the season starts. Your staff must know how to react to different situations and who to contact. Keep a medical form for every student and staff member on file, with appropriate emergency phone numbers. Your staff should be trained to administer to minor cuts and bruises. If the injury is serious, the individual with his/her medical form should be taken to the local emergency room. Maintain a first aid/injury log.
Accident Report: Establish and enforce a procedure for reporting any accident, minor or major. An accident report form must be filled out and delivered to all concerned parties. The report will establish the facts as they occurred and the actions taken by your staff while dealing with the accident.
Suggested Procedures:· Post emergency numbers next to all phones.· File student medical forms in central location.· Check all equipment daily, and record results.· Keep maintenance, first aid/injury, weather