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Preparing for the Coming Boating Season.It’s time to gear up for another memorable season on the water. In the spring rush to get the boat ready, it’s tempting to paint the bottom and get back to cruising again. But to do so without a thorough inspection can be an invitation for trouble.

The extra hours that it takes to inspect vital systems and to make repairs where necessary will save time spent broken down at the dock or in a boatyard. A couple of weekends of preventative effort can lead to weeks of carefree boating.

Having a to-do list will concentrate your effort and get the job done faster. What follows is laid out to help organize the annual ritual, making the tasks more manageable. And most importantly, it will help you identify and fix problems now before they become problems while underway.

Get organized with a to-do-list!

(Download the to-do list for FREE here.)

  1. Bilge

    1. Clean sea strainer baskets
    2. Inspect thru-hulls and ensure seacocks are working
    3. Check the stuffing box for abnormal leakage
    4. Check auto and manual operation of Bilge Pumps
    5. Check thruster reservoir for leaks
    6. Check trim tab reservoir for leaks
    7. Check steering reservoir level
    8. Replace absorbent pad in the bilge and check for sign of fluid leaks
    9. Test bilge blower to ensure proper operation
    10. Ensure bilge pumps are operational

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  1. Engine(s)

    1. Close coolant pit-cocks if drained in the fall
    2. Inspect raw water pump impeller
    3. Check engine oil and transmission fluid condition and level
    4. Replace fuel filters
    5. Check drive belt condition and tension
    6. Inspect belt tension bearing
    7. Inspect for fluid leaks
    8. Check coolant overflow bottle fluid level
    9. Check engine coolant condition
    10. Check coolant hose condition
    11. Check condition of zinc in cooling system
    12. Flush raw water side coolant heat exchanger
    13. Inspect and clean air filter/spark arrester
    14. Ensure engine mounts and drive coupling nuts are tight
    15. Check exhaust clamps and hoses
    16. Inspect spark plug cables, if applicable, for cracking or brittleness
    17. On non-electric ignitions change points, condenser, rotor and distributor cap
    18. Ensure seawater discharge at exhaust when engine is running
    19. Test engine alarms to ensure operable

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  1. Electrical System

    1. Check battery condition, fluid level and clean the terminals
    2. Check D.C. electrical panel and terminal connections to ensure all connections are clean and tight
    3. Check engine gages
    4. Check operation of all electrical appliances
    5. Check cabin, anchor and navigation lights
    6. Test horn to ensure it is operational
    7. Service generator

A boat's electrical panel.

Check power panel and terminal connections.
  1. Furnace/Air Conditioner

    1. Run to ensure proper operation
    2. Check for fuel and fluid leaks
    3. Check fluid level on hydronic units
    4. Replace fuel filter
  2. Deck Hardware, Hull & Dingy

    1. Check deck hardware fittings for tightness
    2. Check sacrifice zinc
    3. Inspect dingy and davits
    4. Check window wiper blades for cracks and deterioration
    5. Remove anchor rode from locker, and inspect rode, shackles, and length markers
    6. Clean and lubricate Windlass
    7. Check O-ring on water and fuel-fill caps
    8. Clean, inspect for cracks and apply light coat of oil to hatch gaskets
    9. Inspect shore-power cord and connections
    10. Service dingy motor
    11. Inspect dock lines
  3. Freshwater System

    1. Flush tank
    2. Ensure air vent line is clear
    3. Inspect waterlines for leaks
    4. Test pump operation
    5. Replace in-line filter
  4. Head

    1. Check operation
    2. Inspect hoses and clamps
    3. Replace holding tank breather tube filter
    4. Ensure breather vent is not blocked
    5. Check Y-valve and macerator operation
    6. Clean shower sump pump filter
  5. Refrigerator/Freezer

    1. Defrost freezer
    2. Check 12- and 110-volt operation
  6. Range and Stove

    1. Filled and inspected propane bottle
    2. Check range and stove operation
    3. Inspect for gas leaks
  7. Safety Equipment

    1. Replace CO2 detector batteries
    2. Check flares expiration dates
    3. Service and inspect fire extinguishers
    4. Service life raft
    5. Replenish the first-aid kit and replace expired items
    6. Check PDFs are in good condition and operational
    7. Ensure all required safety equipment is onboard
  8. Spares Parts and Tools

    1. Replenish all essential spares for the season (hoses, belts, impellers, fuses, bulbs, filters, etc.)
    2. Ensure at least the basic tools are stored on-board

Supplies for boating.

Purchase parts and supplies you need before starting.


~ Deane Hislop

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