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Preventative Maintenance for Boats

Keeping your boat Ship-Shape and in good mechanical working order maintains the value of your investment. Personally, I often wonder why some owners allow their vessels to lose value due to poor maintenance. Properly maintaining your boat is a full time concern and wise Skippers attend to their boat’s needs as items become in need of repair. This boating safety tip will address some of the most important areas where time and attention will be rewarded. Mechanical Failures … These failures are likely to be the most inconvenient, and at times, dangerous events. Top on my list are Engine Failures ... A ship’s engines need constant attention, whether inboard, outboard, diesel, gasoline, and I’d add sails to this list. Being a motor-boater, making sure my engines are in tip top shape is a year round concern. Each season I have my mechanic perform annual maintenance before launching, and again when the boat is hauled for the offseason. He checks my fuel system, cooling system, the propellers, gears, and steering equipment. During the season I make sure the engines and its supporting components do not stay idle in the slip for long periods of time. Often, I will grab a sandwich and got to my slip to check things out. Batteries … I start testing all of the batteries by turning them on and making sure all the electrical equipment they support is working properly. These checks start with confirming that all of my lights are on. This list includes navigation lights, cabin lights, and spotlights. I also make sure my fresh water and other battery operated systems are working as required. This list includes fuel pumps, bilge pumps, the refrigerator, all navigation electronics, the ship’s radio, the electric head, and the anchor winch. Also, don’t overlook the ships whistle (horn). Ongoing Maintenance … When the new boating season begins more active ongoing maintenance becomes necessary. This is when you are using your equipment more often. As a result, breakdowns can occur. There are many areas where mechanical and electrical breakdowns occur while underway. Among the most frequent causes are… 1. Engine Failures … 2. Fuel Systems … 3. Thermostat Failure … 4. Battery Failure … 5. Propeller Damage or Fouling … 6. Gearbox Damage … 7. Broken Drive Belts … 8. Water leaks … 9. Fuel leaks … 10. Steering Gear leaks … 11. Inoperative Navigational equipment … 12. An inoperative ship’s radio, … 13. An inoperative throttle … 14. Fluid leaks at the ship’s helm … 15. Leaking through-hull fittings … 16. Inoperative bilge pumps … 17. Inoperative anchor winch … 18. Inoperative fuel gauges … 19. An inaccurate Depth Finder … 20. Inoperative trim tabs, … and 21. An inoperative ship’s compass. Back At The Dock … Ongoing Maintenance doesn’t stop when you return to the dock. Once you are securely in your slip, at your mooring, or on your trailer, you need to debrief the day. You can do this by yourself, but it is better if you can debrief the day with other passengers you had onboard that day. If you or another passenger spotted anything questionable regarding the equipment onboard that day be certain to ask questions and take notes so you can correct any issues that need attending. Storing Your Boat in the Offseason … In many ways, storing your boat in the offseason is quite similar to launching and using your boat during the season. To start, think of the off season as time to begin making your boat ready for the next season. First, re-evaluate the condition of all systems … 22. Review Your List of Equipment in Need of Attention … Make sure you have recorded everything that needs repair during the season … 23. Perform the Needed Repairs to All Systems that Require Maintenance … Whether you have an inboard, sterndrive, outboard, or sails, you’ll need to tend to any needed repairs to make sure that they are corrected when launch time comes … 24. Change Your Engine Oil … I change the engine oil before I launch at the beginning of each boating season … 25. Inspect the Hull Top to Bottom … Once your boat is secure on it’s blocks check the entire hull. Starting at the top, make sure any scratches or damage is scheduled for repair before relaunching in the Spring. Remove and sea growth from the bottom. Make sure the bottom paint is in good condition. Remove any barnacles that may be stuck inside through hull fittings. If not, touch up the needed spots, or repaint if needed …

26. Check the Cabins … If you shrink wrap the boat, Consider adding a zippered door. This will allow access to the interior. If you don’t intend to get inside until launch time is near, make sure you have emptied your fresh water tank, pumped out your holding tank, set moisture absorbers throughout the interior, and you might want to place activated charcoal air fresheners in the ship’s interior spaces … 27. Tree Oil … Lastly, we need to address mildew. Tea Tree Oil is a non-toxic air freshener that removes bacteria, viruses, and mold from the environment. This will keep the Boat’s interior in Ship-Shape condition … Remember, Smart Boating is Safe Boating !!!

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