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Annual Small Boat Checkup


By Katie Wixom, Accident Prevention & Safety Compliance

Valentine’s day was spent with our good friends at the United States Coast Guard (USCG) conducting the annual inspections on the Wilderness Explorer's small boat fleet.

If you have taken an Un-Cruise Adventure you know that the small boats are the backbone of our operation. They allow us the ability to visit remote drop-off locations for hiking, provide an up-close and personal wildlife viewing platform, and serve as rescue boats during water activities.

Annually these boats receive a rigorous inspection by the USCG. This year’s inspection consisted of inspections of all the safety gear kept on board including life rings, first aid kits, magnetic compass, flares, VHF radios and navigation lights. The outboard engines including the batteries and fuel filtration system were also inspected.

The integrity of the vessels construction was then tested by a series of inflation tests. First the vessel is inflated to its working capacity, the numbers are recorded and then verified after two hours. Next, every other chamber is deflated and the inflated chambers are over-pressurized to ensure that the internal structure is sound. Then, the vessel is soap tested by lathering it with soap and watching for bubbles to identify any pin-hole leaks.

Lastly, the crew from the Wilderness Explorer demonstrated a man overboard drill. The crew recovered a training dummy named Oscar from the water and had the opportunity to talk to the inspectors about small boat safety.

USGS & Wilderness Explorer

Katie Wixom (left) and Wilderness Explorer Captain Marce Branniff (2nd on right) pose with our friends at the USCG. Nice balloon! I wonder if they compared Valentine's stories?

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