Know your engine.

It is a basic skill to be capable of bleeding a fuel supply that anyone who goes to in charge of a small vessel must learn.

When you collect a vessel from a charter company, always find out where the fuel cut off is positioned, the water separator, the manual lift pump and any bleed valves, it is also a good idea to ensure that you have spanners which fit and some fuel in a spare container!

If you have prepared your self with this information it should take only a few minutes to bleed the fuel supply on most small yachts. The first time you do it may take a hour, so if you know nothing about engines there are plenty of basic one day courses which will show you what to do. Do not wait until it happens before you decide to learn how to deal with what is probably the most common cause of problems afloat.

Many people are not interested in learning about their engines, which can be a dangerous attitude, if you are going to skipper a yacht you must be prepared to have a go at any on the jobs aboard!

I once saw a motor boat towed in to Ramsgate, they had been towed from off the Belgian coast because their engines had failed. When the engineer was called he was aboard for less than 10 minutes dealing with the problem! The story was that the owner always had the engine serviced professionally and had no interest in how it worked, I think he changed his attitude quickly after that experience!

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