Sailboat owners know that spring fever madness jumps on you when the first sunny day arrives. The thought of finally getting back out on the water after months of winter can drive one to madness. Kids get excited about playing on the water but the skipper may find themselves casting a wary eye towards their boat. Spring recommissioning isn’t hard, you just need to take one step at a time.
So before you launch:
- Inspect and lube seacocks.
- Check hoses and clamps, replace as needed.
- Check and replace zincs.
- Inspect the prop for chips, dings and pitting or discoloration. Also be sure your pin is still in place and in good shape.
- Give the hull a once over for blisters, stress cracks or other signs of trouble.
- Check the engine shaft and rudder stuffing boxes, don’t want them loose and once you’re in the water check for correct water drips if your boat isn’t a dry shaft.
- Check the deck by running water from a hose to be sure all is tight and dry.
- Lastly, be sure your plug is in place if you have one. My hubby launched once without the plug in and off he and his buddy went. Thankfully, that boat was an I/O and they were able to run aground to keep from sinking. Once the plug was in place they managed to bale out and then have fun.
- Check all your fuel lines, this includes vent and fill hoses. Look for soft, brittle or cracked ones. Also look to be sure these are supported well and don’t have anything sharp near them…including clamps etc.
- Check and replace if needed your fuel filters, fuel pumps and tanks. If you’ve a gas engine and fiberglass fuel tanks you might talk with a marine professional to have them inspected for any ethanol related issues.
- Check your bilge blower hose. We’ve replaced ours so many times I can’t even count it!
- While you’re under there, check out the cooling hoses too.
This link will take you to my really great post on trailers.
Odds and Ends:
- Remember to give your fire extinguishers a yearly good shake. All the powder inside should move freely, if it doesn’t or if the status indicators are in the red, you might want to replace them.
- Check that bilge pump and float to be sure all is well.
- Check those dock lines, can’t tell you how many boats I’ve seen float away from their owners!
- Got a stove aboard? Check the lines, tanks and fittings.
- How’s your charts? Do you need to buy new ones?
- Does your boat have shore power? If it does then you should check that cord. Any burn spots?
- Check those vests are they still in good shape? If you have self inflating vests aboard be sure to un-screw the canister and check the end to be sure there isn’t a hole there. If you have a hole then you need to replace the air canister. What about that throw-able life ring/cushion, still in good shape?
- Do you have emergency flares? What’s the expiration date? If you’re replacing you might want to think about firing off the old ones just for practice. (Timely reminder from US Coast Guard Aux. member… “USCG flare shoots” only folks, huge fine other wise!)
- Double check those tags! Is your registration current on boat and trailer?
- What’s your insurance like? Does it cover you if you have an environmental spill? Think boating accident and fuel/oil in the water.
- Does your boat have alarms for smoke, carbon monoxide and maybe a bilge alarm? Test them out to be sure they still work properly, change to new batteries each year.
- Don’t forget your US Coast Guard vessel safety check! They’re free and there’s no fine or report if you don’t pass.
- Check the chain-plates at the through hull and re-caulk as necessary. If you think the core around them maybe wet be sure to inspect and repair.
- Check the standing rigging, wire halyards and back-stays. Look for those retched ‘fish hooks’. Also check for rust.
- Check the swage fittings for heavy rust (some color is ok) or cracks. Replace as needed.
- If you didn’t remove the tape on your turnbuckles then now’s the time. Lube the threads with Teflon and replace the tape.
- Check those sheets and replace as needed.
- Give your sails a once over. A few needed stitches now is better than a blown out sail later!
- Look at your winches. When was the last time you cleaned and lube them?
- Have a permanently mounted swim ladder? Did you make it a safer one? If you haven’t you can see how on this post.
So there you have my quick spring boat recommissioning list. If you’ve encountered “Murphy’s Law” in your boating past and have some insight to add to this list, please comment below for the rest of us! Otherwise, be safe, be sober and enjoy the upcoming boating season.