The club owns a hard hull boat ‘Seahorse’. It is a 5.8m Tornado RHIB, purchased in 2004, with a Honda 135hp outboard 4-stroke engine, purchased 2014. It is equipped with a GPS/chartplotter, depth sounder and a VHF radio. We always carry full emergency equipment, including oxygen, on board.
For the past few years she has been based in Plymouth and the club offers as much opportunity as possible to dive from her, normally weekend trips and a couple of week-long trips, the legendary Easter Training and Summer Expeditions. If you would like to use her for your trip and there is nothing already planned then get in touch with the boat and diving officers.
Seahorse is a fabulous asset for any dive club, especially a university club, and gives us the flexibility to go where we want when we want. Using the boat adds so much more to diving. Of course, we need people to drive and tow the boat. If you know how to handle a boat then you will already know how much fun it is. If you don’t already have any experience of boat driving then we can teach you.
We are also in the process of rehabilitating Sea Elephant. Despite the name elephant she is Seahorse’s smaller sister (named Elephant as she is grey). She had fallen into disrepair but is now fixed and ready to go, all that remains are sea trials ….for anyone brave enough! She is an inflatable boat about 13ft long capable of accommodating ~4 divers. The beauty of Sea Elephant is that she can be packed away in a car boot and thus is far easier to transport, enabling us to dive a greater range of sites.
Checklists for Seahorse
Getting Seahorse ready for Trips
- Ensure that you have some people to drive the boat!
- Ensure the engine and electrics are working.
- Ensure the boat is water tight and ready for the water (suitably inflated and no leaks).
- The lights are working on the boat (Port, Starboard and white all-round light).
- Ensure the lights are working on the trailer board, tyre pressures are correct (65psi) and trailer brakes are working.
- Ensure you have all relevant equipment:
- Boat: The key, kill cord, Gerry cans, anchor, bailing bucket, electronics (GPS, radio, depth finder, charged hand-held radios), flares, first aid kit, tools and misc and backup items (all in the 4xBoat boxes), oxygen kit, ropes, shot weight and buoys
- Supporting equipment: hose for cleaning, cleaning muffs for engine, trailer clamp, trailer spares/toolkit
Towing the Trailer
- Ensure you have the right licens
- Minimum B+E license: 3,500kg braked MAM.
C1, C+E license: 44000kg MAM
- The boat and trailer weighs 1300kg with a trailer MAM of 1600kg
- (N.B. MAM = maximum authorised mass of vehicles and trailers. This should be taken to mean the permissible maximum weight, also known as the gross vehicle weight of the combined vehicle and trailer)
- Minimum B+E license: 3,500kg braked MAM.
- Ensure that you have completed the university towing course/test if you are using a hired vehicle to tow
- Ensure you have insurance and breakdown recovery that covers you for towing and will recover the boat as well as the vehicle
- Speed limit whilst towing trailers 30 mph Urban areas
- 50 mph Single Carriageway
- 60 mph Dual Carriageway
- 60 mph Motorway
- Ensure the boat is secure, the engine is on the trim lock and the boat bow and stern straps are in place.
- Secure the orange bag over the engine.
- Ensure the trailer is securely attached to the towing vehicle and the run-away cable is connected to the towing vehicle. The number plate needs plugging in, there is an adaptor if required.
- Ensure that the trailerboard numberplate matches that of the towing vehicle
- Check the trailerboard lights
- Ensure you have the trailer spares/toolkit with you
- Check that the trailer is towing and braking okay.
- Check the temperature of the bearings after a few miles if possible. They are sealed bearings but will eventually need replacing so good idea to check them – it also checks if the brakes are seized on.
Checks before launching Seahorse
- Visual inspection of the boat – tubes, hull, bung, etc
- Check that the electronics are installed and working on the console and all boat boxes with safety equipment are stored in the A-frame, and O2 kit, ropes, shot weight and buoys are installed.
- Check that you have enough fuel and check the engine oil is sufficient and golden (open cowling and use the dipstick on SB side of engine)
- Check the key and kill-cord is there and all safety equipment is onboard (see checklist)
Launching Seahorse from her trailer
- Remove trailer board and cable, and push the mounting bars back into the trailer, pointing down and tighten the screws to secure.
- Remove the bow and stern straps – keep the winch strap and safety clip attached until boat is in the water
- Remove the orange bag from the engine – you could keep the ratchet straps in it if you like.
- Ensure the engine is off the latch, engine is trimmed up and the trunk is up
- Check that the slipway is deep enough to launch the boat.
- Reverse the trailer into the water until the water is up to the rear wheels of the towing vehicle. If the slip is shallow or slippery you may need to chock wheels, unhitch, attach to vehicle with thick black launch rope (wrap eye loop 2 x around towbar and make a bowline around trailer, take up slack with vehicle, unchock wheels and then guide back into water steering with bow of boat as required. Ensure no-one stands behind trailer or near rope in case rope fails.
- Detach winch strap and safety clip from the bow eye.
- Use people in the water to guide/push the boat off the trailer. If necessary carefully use the engine to help get the boat off the trailer.
- Be cautious about the depth of water when lowering and starting engine. Do not engage engine until everyone is safely on board and/or well clear.
Launching Seahorse at a marina
- The boat is stored at the drystack with much of the equipment already installed/present. However,before departing please take the time to check that it is all present and working – do not just assume.
- If launching from trailer at drystack the tubes will be deflate and the boat transferred using slings firstly to a rack and then into the water. Be prepared to assist the drystack staff if necessary. The tubes will require re-inflating before going into the water – only 0.2 bar (2-3 psi) above ambient is required.
- Absolute maximum of 10 passengers. 2 BH and 8 divers. Preferably fewer.
- Make a note of the engine hours at the start and end of the trip. Make a note of the fuel used on the trip. Report both to the Boat Officer along with the distance covered.
- A good rule of thumb is that the boat uses 0.3 litres/person/nM. Keep ⅓ of the tank as reserve. Fuel tank capacity = ~100 litres.
- Consult Dive Officer if the weather conditions and sites are suitable for operation
- Ensure that the laden boat is below 900kg. Assume 90kg per person plus 40kg of kit. If rough water reduce the number of passengers and weight of kit.
- To prevent unnecessary wear and tear and save fuel you don’t want to have it on full throttle to cruise. Cruising speed is typically obtained at 3800-4000 RPM you many need to go to 4200-4500 RPM to get on the plane to obtain cruising speed and then throttle back.
Getting Seahorse out at dry stack
- The boat is retrieved from the water with engine nearest the shore, straight and lowered. Hours are 8am to 6pm, so you need to be back 530pm at the latest. The hull will be rinsed off by the staff. Be nice to them!
- If the boat is being stored directly back in the stack much of the electronics and equipment may be left on the boat. If the boat is to be left overnight on the pontoon it is advisable to remove electronics.
- Ensure engine is flushed and give the interior of the boat a rinse if possible. Drain out water and then set trunk up again.
- Make a note of engine hours.
- Visual inspection of hull and engine
- Switch off electronics inside console. Remove keys and killcord
- Re-fill with fuel and make a note of fuel used.
- Remove any rubbish and leave the boat as you would wish to find it ready for the next trip.
Getting Seahorse out of the water onto trailer
- Line up the boat to the trailer runner. Trim up the engine, use people to guide the boat on to the runners – caution: some of them are a little loose and floppy. Attach the winch to the bow eye and winch the boat on to the trailer until the bow eye is past the winch runner and attach the safety clip to the bow eye.
- Recover the boat out of the water ensuring no-one is behind trailer or near rope. If using the black launch rope then use chocks and rope as for launching.
- If possible flush the engine and brakes with fresh water, and perform other cleaning activities – see below.
- Ready the boat as “towing the trailer”.
Cleaning and storage on trailer
- Hose down all the boat and get as much salt water off as possible.
- Flush the engine with fresh water using the muffs over the intakes. Run the engine for a couple of minutes. Be ready to turn off the engine if there is an overheating alarm.
- Hose down all of the trailer.
- Key Areas: brakes, wheel bearings and the boat track wheel bearings. It is good to flush the brakes and then tow the trailer a little way to dry it all off.
- After the boat is dry, grease the trailer wheel bearings.
- Make sure that the GPS, sounder, and hhVHF go back into the electronics box and the sockets on the console have been covered
- Note the number of hours the engine has been on and report to BO
- Switch off the electrics in the main compartment under the console
- Trunk 2/3 down to allow drainage
- Put cover over boat
- Lock trailer using wheel clamp and hitch lock
- If the trailer will be standing for a long period with the boat on it then it is a good idea to jack up the wheels and rest the trailer on blocks. This helps preserve the tyres.
Maintenance and Servicing
Things to check every time out of the water:
- Engine Oil
- Visual inspection of the hull and outboard
- Grease levels on trailer bearings
- Movement of trailer hitch damper.
- Report to the Boat Officer: Engine hours at start and end of trip
- Fuel used on trip
- Distance covered
- Any issues or observations on the state of the boat and trailer
- Report dive details to the DO and sort out the finances of the trip, ensuring that boat fees and kit hire charges are recovered and passed on to the Treasurer.
- Write a trip report for the website
Things to check every 1-2 months
- Tyre Pressures (65psi), Hydraulic fluid, Check battery of hand held radio, Electronics console
- Things to check every 6 months
- Flares, first aid kit, Oxygen kit, Fuses, Fuel filter
- Service engine every 100 running hours