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Boating Pre-Season Checklist for Spring Commissioning

By: Mickle Charles | Feb 20 2009 | 1386 words | 1026 hits

What do the baseball, football, and boating seasons have in common? They all have pre-seasons.

In boating, Spring is the time to get your vessel ready for the greatest season of the year. It is also an opportunity to avoid potential safety problems.

Dust off the owner's manual. Always consult your manual for specifics and for items that may deviate from this checklist.

Engine

  • Change the Oil
    Did you change the oil when you winterized your boat?
    Even if you did, the oil usually absorbs unwanted acids and chemicals from the engine during the long winter's sleep. You may want to change the oil again to remove these deposits.
  • Reconnect Spark Plugs
    If you left the spark plugs disconnected during the winter, it's time to re-install and re-connect.
  • Reconnect Fuel Hoses
    As with the spark plugs, the same applies to outboard
  • Intake Sea Strainer
    Double check that the strainer is free of debris and corrosion.
  • Inspect all belts and hoses.
    Clamps should be snug and free of rust. If they show signs of cracking, rotting, or feel mushy, it's best to replace them now.
    Here is a neat trick that we use to test fuel lines and clamps. Take an old white rag and run it up and down the fuel clamps and hoses. If you see or smell fuel on the rag, it is best to tighten the clamps and inspect the hoses more carefully.
    Replace any hoses or belts, Deep Blue Yacht Supply has a great selection of clamps and hoses:
  • Sterndrive Boot and Hydraulics:
    Inspect rubber boot for cracks or holes.
    Check fluid levels in lift pumps and hydraulic steering.

Propellers and Shafts

  • Inspect Propeller
    Remove prop and lubricate if necessary. Inspect prop for dings or damage. Even a slightly dinged prop can cause excess vibration on the engine / lower unit. If ding exposes aluminum, then excess corrosion can occur from electric currents. Have propeller repaired or consider purchasing a new propeller.
    Deep Blue Yacht Supply offers the following tools:

Propeller Guide
Inboard Propellers

  • Inspect shafts and struts for proper operation.
    Deep Blue Yacht Supply offers stainless steel boat shafts in Aqualoy 17, 19, and 22 material. Stainless Shafting -
  • Inspect Shaft Cutless Bearings
    Replacement is due when the prop shaft starts to shimmy or when the shaft shows movement of about 3/16 of an inch. Deep Blue Yacht Supply carries a wide range of Metallic, Non Metallic, and Flanged Cutless Bearings
  • ELECTRICAL
  • Check water levels
  • Fully Charge the battery
    It's been sleeping for a while.
  • Clean Battery Terminals
    Remove all the corrosion
  • Inspec Electrical Connections
    Check for wear in electrical wires. Repair if necessary.
  • Shore Power Cable
    Inspect cable for burns and wear
  • Test your electrical systems for proper operation
    • Gauges
    • VHF Radio
    • Antennas
    • GPS Units, Plotters, & Fish Finders
    • Water Pumps
    • Lighting
    • Bilge Pump

Safety & emergency

  • Inspect Life Jackets / PFDs
    Get them out of the back of the locker. Inspect them for rips. Double-check the seams. Do you have enough for each person onboard? Do you have enough sizes for younger kids?
    Have you ever had to put on a life jacket in an emergency? How about one that is still in the plastic? Take out a stop watch and time yourself. Can you put in on and adjust the straps in less than 15 seconds? To avoid potential problems, we use the following technique for all our trips:
    Pull out your PFDs. With a Sharpie, number each one. When your guests board your boat, assign them a number and throw them a life jacket with the appropriate number. Ask them to adjust the straps to their size and try it on for size. This helps in two ways. First, in an emergency, there will be no time messing with the straps. Secondly, it helps get the life jackets out from the back of the locker, and closer to the surface.
  • Throwable Flotation Device
    The U.S. Coast Guard requires that you have one throwable PFD. Let's say that you throw it and miss your target. Now what? I keep two throwables on my boat. One with a line attached. In an emergency, I first throw the regular cushion. If I miss, then I'll have the one with the line to throw over and over again.
  • Fire Extinguishers
    Make sure the extinguisher is fully charged. In addition, the extinguisher has been sitting in its mount for a while without any movement. To avoid the chemical from settling into a hard rock at the bottom of the canister, slowly invert the canister 20-25 times. You should feel the chemicals slosh back and forth through the canister.
    Lastly, if the expiration date has passed, or is coming due, it would be best to buy a new fire extinguisher. If you can find an ABC extinguisher, I would definitely pick one up.
  • Flares / Visual Distress Systems
    Check the expiration date on your flares. 42 months is the usual life of flares. If the flares have expired, you can donate them to your local USCG Auxiliary Flotilla or Fire Department.
  • Re-organize your emergency box
    By re-organizing your emergency kit, you'll see if something has gotten wet, or if something has expired. If you don't have a kit, it's time to buy one. I keep a fully stocked waterproof box onboard.
    Here are some of the items that we store in the box.
    • First Aid Kit
    • Screwdrivers
    • Vise-Grips Pliers
    • Spare Navigation Bulbs
    • Spare Spark Plugs
    • Spare Fuses
    • Flares
    • Extra Knife
    • Extra Batteries
    • And even more batteries
  • Check your compass
    What if your GPS unit loses power. This is your non-electrical friend.
  • Liferaft Inspection
    Is it time for servicing? Please use a local facility or your OEM for this one, as they can repack it properly.
    Have the liferaft supplies expired? Are they still in good condition?
  • Test the Smoke Detectors
  • EPIRBs
    Check expiration date. Use the manufacturer to replace batteries.
    Register unit with USCG. Follow manufacturer's instructions on how to test.
  • Abandon Ship / Ditch Bag
    You hope it never happens, but just in case. Here are a few items worth considering.
    • EPIRBs
    • Sea-Dye Packet
    • Handheld VHF Radio
    • Flashlight
    • Batteries
    • Watertight Bag for Electronics
    • Flares
    • Whistle
    • Passports
    • Protein or Granola Bars
    • Water Packs, Water Maker, Desalinization Packs
    • Water Container
    • Inflatable Distress Flag (can catch rain water, too)
    • Fishing Line / Hook / Sinkers
    • Sunscreen
    • First Aid Kit

Deck / Hull

  • Bow
    Inspect the lifelines, pulpits, and stanchion. Inspect the anchor, ground tackle, lines, and fenders.
  • Hardware
    Inspect all deck hardware including cleats, deck pipes, hatch lifts, brackets, vents, and scupper plates for damage or wear.
    If you are in need of deck hardware, check out Deep Blue Yacht Supply's wide selection of ; Buck Algonquin Marine Hardware
  • Inspect dingy and life raft clamps
  • Inspect bimini canvas and covers
  • Inspect Hull for Damage
    Look for and repair any scratches and gouges. Inspect for blisters.
  • Inspect Trim TabsBe sure to test the trim tabs to make sure they function properly. Refer to your owner's manual for specifics.
  • Replace Zincs
    These sacrificial pieces of metal protect the precious metal components of your boat including lower units, propellers, rudders, shafts, and struts. They should be replaced when one-third of the original zinc remains. I like to replace mine once a season when the boat is out of the water.
    Be sure to check out Deep Blue's wide array of ;Zimar Zinc Anodes:
  • Inspect Rubber Gaskets and Seals
    Renew caulk and gaskets. If in doubt, you should replace.
  • Inspect rudder / steering components and fittings.
    Deep Blue Yacht Supply provides a wide range of ;Steering Components
  • Inspect Drain Plug

Fresh Water System

  • Fill the water tanks
  • Reconnect the hot water heater
  • Non Toxic Antifreeze
    Although it's non-toxic and alcohol based, nobody likes it. Flush out the antifreeze that you added in the winter. Run all the faucets including the shower heads.

Bilges

  • Verify that bilges operate properly
    Verify connections to battery. Clear debris from float.
  • Make sure bilge has oil

Documents

  • USCG Auxiliary Safety Check
    The Coast Guard Auxiliary performs complimentary safety checks. This helps confirm that your vessel meets both Federal and State regulations. There are no citations issued and violations are not reported to law enforcement.
    Visit SafetySeal.net to locate an examiner in your area.
  • Check you boat's registration
  • Insurance Policy
    While your insurance company will usually send you the renewal bill, use this time to make sure your coverage meets your needs.

Boat Towing Service
Is it time to renew your service?

Signature : Michle charles is webmasters of Deep Blue Yacht Supply . Wholesale prices direct to our retail customers on all boating essentials to know more visit to http://www.deepblueyachtsupply.com . Before you check with your neighborhood yacht supplies store, you may want to see http://www.deepblueyachtsupply.com/ and check out if the range of boat propellers the store has meets your yachting needs. The online store has been catering to world over yachters with some cool offers. The store has been there for long but their offers will expire soon.


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    Checklist for Spring

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