OUPV / Six Pack Captains License Course

DECK GENERAL - Machinery Operations

Machinery Operations

Engine Operations and Fueling

Before fueling your vessel, be sure to safely secure your vessel to the fuel dock.  Stop all engines, motors, fans and other electrical devices that may cause a spark.  If a main power switch controls the electrical system, turn it off.  Close all hatches and vents to prevent heavy fumes from entering the vessel.  Disembark all passengers and crew not needed for the refueling operation.  Make sure no one is smoking on or near your vessel.  Make sure the refueling crew knows where the fire extinguishers are and how to use them.  Outboard fuel tanks should be removed from the vessel and filled on shore.  Ground the fueling nozzle to prevent static spark.  Use fuel absorbent pads around the fuel nozzle to prevent spillage.  Leave room for expansion and avoid overfilling.   To determine the amount of fuel needed for a trip, you should plan 1/3 out, 1/3 back, and 1/3 in reserve.  Fuel and oil spills are serious.  If you see any leaks, stop filling immediately.  Contain the spill and call the USCG.

After fueling, close fill openings.  Open all hatches and vents and make sure battery boxes are well ventilated.   Bilge blowers are run until there is one complete exchange of air in the compartment.  Smell for fumes.  If you detect any odor of fuel, do not start your engines but continue to ventilate.  You must have mechanical and natural exhaust on gas engines.  Fuel tanks must have shut-off valves readily accessible at the tank with no junctions. In case of a gas or diesel fire, secure fuel first.  Fuel vapors gather in the lowest part of the bilge.  Most gasoline powered vessels currently use a four-stroke combustion cycle to convert gasoline into motion.  Gas engines have an ignition spark, and wiring should be checked regularly.  Inboard gas engines have backfire flame arrestors on top of the carburetor and drip pans underneath them.  Diesel engines have heat of compression and are less volatile than gas engines.  A runaway diesel engine can be stopped by smothering the air intake. Detroit diesels are notorious for this because they can run on their own oil when the turbo fails. Don’t use a rag to smother the air intake as you may lose your fingers.

Runaway Diesel Engine

Before starting your engine check the oil, cooling system, and check for leaks.  Exhaust leaks can be deadly.  Change your oil more often in the winter because of degradation.  Check your steering and stuffing box for leaks where shaft passes thru hull, also if your stern (cutlass)  bearing is warn it causes vibration.

Most gasoline or diesel engine problems are related to fuel or spark (gasoline).  If there is sufficient fuel in the tank, check the fuel shut off valve (located at the tank) to be sure that it is in the open position.  Check the choke position (on if the engine is cold, off it the engine is warm).  Check the primary fuel filter for water or sediment.  Air trapped in the fuel system will prevent most diesel engines from starting.

The exhaust smoke from most diesel engines should be clear.  If it is not, this may be a warning of an impending problem.  Black smoke could indicate an obstruction in the airflow, defective fuel injector, or an overload, such as line around the propeller.  Blue smoke would indicate worn or stuck piston rings, worn valve guides, or high crankcase oil level.  White smoke would indicate water or air in the fuel or a leaking head gasket. White smoke would indicate water or air in the fuel or a leaking head gasket which would decrease viscosity of the oil.

Three principle cooling systems are used to keep marine power plants cool.  A raw water cooling system draws water directly from the water on which the boat floats.  This water enters through a seacock, passes through a raw water filter that catches debris, circulates through a series of oil coolers and the engine, and finally discharges overboard, usually through the exhaust pipe.  Heat exchanger cooling is an enclosed cooling system where an engine cooling pump circulates the coolant through the engine.  It then passes through a heat exchanger that lowers its temperature, then circulates once again.  A Keel cooling system does not require a raw water circuit, but places a heat exchanger immersed in the raw water.

Laws and Regulations

The Master or individual in charge of a vessel in a marine casualty shall render necessary assistance to each individual affected and to save that affected individual from danger caused by the marine casualty, so far as the individual in charge can do so without serious danger to individual, individual’s vessel, or other individuals onboard.  The Master or individual in charge must give their name, address, and identification of the vessel to the Master or individual in charge of any other vessel involved in the casualty or any individual that is injured. 

An individual violating this regulation can be fined up to $1,000 or imprisoned for up to two years.  Any individual rendering assistance at the scene of a marine casualty without objection by an individual assisted is not liable for damages as a result of rendering this assistance.

The United States Coast Guard is tasked with enforcement of federal regulations.  These regulations are found in the Code of Federal Regulations, or CFR.  CFR 46, Subchapter C is of particular interest to uninspected vessels, including commercial fishing vessels, and mariners should familiar with this publication.  Also, CFR 46, Subchapter T pertains to inspected small passenger vessels.  Documentation is a federal title of ownership (vessels under 5 tons can’t be documented).

A prudent boater will always be familiar with federal, state, and local laws.  Most states adopt federal law but may have additional laws so long as they don’t soften or reduce federal regulations.  Some states require training and licensing.

The captain of commercial passenger carrying vessels require licensing based on the size of the vessel and the number of paying passengers on board.  OUPV (6-pack) vessels are uninspected up to 100 gross tons.  More than 100 gross tons and less than 300 gross tons can carry 12 passengers.  Vessels carrying more than 6 passengers up to 100 gross tons, more than 100 gross tons and less than 300 gross tons carrying more than 12 passengers must be inspected.