Prepare For a Carefree Boating Season―Get Organized With A To-Do-List

In the spring rush to get the boat ready, it’s tempting to just paint the bottom and get back to cruising again. But to do so without a thorough inspection can be an invitation for future trouble.

The extra hours that it takes to methodically inspect vital systems and to make repairs where necessary will save time spent broken down at the dock waiting for a part, or in a boatyard. As with so many of life’s other endeavors, preparation is the key to success. Don’t neglect the details. A loose connection or fastener can lead to a major calamity.

A good way to begin is to establish a list of things to do and a list of necessary tools, parts, and supplies with which to do with them. Nothing slows spring maintenance more than repeatedly running to the chandlery because you don’t have a hose clamp, a chamois, a tube of grease or a fuel filter. The lists are reciprocal in nature. The “to-do” list will generate entries on the “tools and supplies” list, and when you go over the supplies you have on hand, you’ll remember things to do.

We all want our boat to run well and enjoy a trouble-free season. We want to go where we want and do what we want without having to worry about mechanical failures. We can make a concerted effort to prevent them.

 

Whether you own a runabout, sailboat or a motor yacht, having a step-by-step to-do list will concentrate your effort and get the job done faster. Here is the short version of our suggested Spring To-Do List:

  • Bilge
    • Clean and inspect strainer basket in the raw water system
    • Inspect through-hulls and ensure seacocks are working
    • Check stuffing box for abnormal leakage; tighten or replace the packing gland if required
    • Check auto & manual operation of bilge pumps
    • Test bilge blower to ensure proper operation
    • Check thruster reservoir for leaks and top-off
    • Check trim tab reservoir for leaks and fill
    • Replace absorbent pads and check for signs of fluid leaks
  • Freshwater System
    • Flush tank
    • Test pump operations
    • Inspect waterlines for leaks
    • Replace in-line filter
  • Deck Hardware, Hull & Dingy
    • Check deck hardware fittings for tightness, especially the rail stanchions
    • Check sacrificial anodes (zincs) and replace as required
    • Wash and wax boat and deck gear
    • Clean Bimini and covers, and apply protectant
    • Check and inspect dinghy and davit system
    • Check window wiper blades for cracks and deterioration
    • Remove anchor rode from locker, clean and inspect for wear
    • Clean and grease the windlass
    • Check O-rings on water and fuel fill caps
    • Inspect shore-power cord and the connectors
    • Inspect dock lines for wear
  • Electrical System
    • Check battery condition, clean terminals, and apply protective dielectric grease to minimize corrosion, fill with distilled water if lead-acid batteries
    • Check all gauges
    • Check cabin, anchor and navigation lights
    • Test horn
    • Service generator
  • Engine(s)
    • Perform all scheduled maintenance in accordance with Owner’s Manual
    • Check engine and transmission fluid condition and level
    • Replace fuel filters
    • Check belt condition and tension
    • Check coolant level and condition
    • Check all hoses and clamps including exhaust
    • Inspect and clean air cleaner/spark arrester
    • Ensure engine mounts and drive coupling nuts
    • Test engine alarms to ensure operation
  • Furnace/Air Conditioner
    • Run to ensure proper operation
    • Check for fluid leaks
    • Check fluid level on hydronic units
    • Replace fuel filter
    • Replace thermostat batteries
  • Head
    • Check operation and service as required
    • Inspect hoses and clamps
    • Ensure breather vent is not blocked
    • Check Y-valve and macerator
    • Clean shower sump pump
  • Interior
    • Replace CO2 detector batteries
  • Refrigerator/Freezer
    • Defrost freezer
    • Check 12v and shore power operation
  • Propane Range and Stove
    • Fill and inspect propane bottle
    • Inspect for leaks
    • Check range and stove operation
  • Safety Equipment
    • Check the expiration dates on flares. They are good for 42 months after manufacture
    • Inspect fire extinguishers. If dry chemical, shake them to loosen the packed retardant
    • Replenish the first-aid kit and replace expired items
    • Ensure PFDs are in good condition
  • Spare Parts
    • Replenish all essential spares
    • Ensure at least the basic tools are onboard
  • Steering System
    • Check fluid reservoir level
    • Check mechanical systems for wear and rust; lube as required
  • Navigation Systems
    • Update chart chips in chart plotters and charts as necessary

Get organized and you will be prepared for a carefree boating season.