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Smooth Sailing: 10 Tips to keep your boat a float

So your boat has been stored away through the darker months and now that the sun is shining, you’re keen to head out on the water and make some waves.

Before you hit the water though, it pays to give your pleasure craft a thorough inspection and service. Prevention is better than cure right?

The simplest option is to pay someone else to do it, and get a marine mechanic or marine surveyor to give the boat a once over. They can then give you a quote on what may need some work.

If you want to spend some time getting to know your boat yourself though, here are some basic tips on what to look out for in order to keep you a float.

  1. Hull

Whilst the boat is dry, it’s a good time to take a good look over the hull and covers to inspect for any cracks, and then inspect again once you have washed it whilst  paying attention to any welding points, transom, keel and strakes.  If you have a wooden hull, then check for any planks that might have warped or moved.

  1. Engine

Check all fluid levels and inspect for any signs of leaks. Cracked hoses and loose clamps especially on the fuel line can be catastrophic, so check all hoses and clamps for signs of wear or corrosion.  If the engine has been sitting there for months, it’s worth changing the oil altogether and inspect the oil for any strange discolouration.

  1. Propeller and Propeller Shaft

Ensure that the prop nut is tightened to manufacturer specifications. A loose nut could result in the prop becoming disconnected and you having to paddle or swim your way back to shore. Take a look over the blades for any bends or dings which could give signs of further internal damage as a result of hitting any rocks etc.

  1. Battery

Check that the battery has held its charge and if not, give it a charge overnight. If it’s an older battery you will also need to check the cell levels. Consider if you need to invest in a new marine battery. Also take a look at the wiring and connections for signs of corrosion or any cracks etc.

  1. Start it up

Once you are confident that there are no leaks and all connections, fluids etc are sound, turn on the electrics and make sure all electrical components are in working order. When safe to do so, set up a water supply and start the engine. Listen for any abnormalities in the motor and take a look at the gauges on the dash to make sure everything is reading as it should.

Pictured below – A boat catches fire due to a fuel line leak

  1. Turn it off

After shutting the engine off, take another look over all hoses and connections to ensure that there are no leaks and the hoses still maintain their integrity.

  1. Covers & fixtures

Open up any covers or bimini to ensure they operate smoothly and have no cracks in them. Also do a once over the boat giving all fixtures a push/pull to test they are still fitted securely. Check the connections on the anchor, and inspect the mooring lines for any signs of wear.

  1. Safety gear

Make sure all your safety gear and fire extinguishers are in good nick and are up to date with the relevant safety standards in your state. It’s also worth trying on the lifejackets to ensure they still fit – especially for children.

  1. Trailer

Don’t forget to give the trailer a once over too. Tyre pressure and tread, brake fluid and wiring are all obvious things to inspect, but also check the shackles and safety chains, and the trailer as a whole for any rust.

  1. Insurance

Review your insurance schedule and make sure the sums insured are accurate, and that you’re familiar with any limitations on the policy. If you use your boat for skiing, check that it covers you for water skiers’ liability.

 

If you don’t think of yourself as much of a boat mechanic, there are plenty of marine mechanics and marine surveyors that you can tow your boat to, or they can come to you.

We recommend getting a professional service, as it’s an inexpensive peace of mind that your boat is going to see you through the boating season.

Now get out there and enjoy that water!