Pre-season boat checks
Boat checks save lives. Here are some helpful hints on what you should consider before heading onto the water. Please note that this list is not exhaustive - all boats and activity plans are different and yours may require additional checks.
1) Call in the professionals. Ask in your local marina for local businesses that do this type of work. It's great peace of mind, especially if you aren't sure what to do or it is your first season.
2) First thing is to give it a good wash - this way it'll be easier to see if there is any damage that needs to be addressed. This is also important to minimise the introduction and spread of non-native species. Polish the hull and bright works and reapply antifoul (if you use it).
3) Check any wires etc for fraying and replace.
4) Charge the battery; it’s been idle all winter so a good charge will do it the power of good. Replace if necessary.
5) Clear out any accumulated rubbish and change the fuel for fresh, check the fuel lines for perishing or leakage, replace if in any doubt. Change your fuel filters and make sure you carry a spare.
6) Put your drain plug back in. It is amazing how often this is forgotten.
7) Check your engine over, check oil and coolant levels, look for pipes that are starting to perish and belts that are starting to get thin or fray, change the impellors, run the engine up in a tank so that you are confident that it will run properly, you really can’t beat a professional eye when it comes to recommissioning an engine after a winter lay up.
8) While checking the engine, ensure your kill cord still works, and that your propellers are in good condition. If you have a secondary engine make sure that gets the full treatment as well.
9) Check and replace any sacrificial anodes you have on.
10) Make sure your bilge pump still works - manual and automatic.
11) Check your electrics! Give the cables a good look, clean any battery corrosion off, make sure the fitted equipment is still in working order, don’t forget your VHF radio, especially if it is a hand held one as it will need charging.
12) Navigation lights - check and replace as needed, you need to be seen in poor weather and at night.
13) Check over any kit you carry, such as lifejackets, sound making equipment, flares (dates), spare clothes, etc. If you don't already carry this kit, consider making the investment. These can save your life.
14) Make sure your anchor is still good, in place, secured to the vessel and ready to deploy.
15) Make sure any seacocks fitted are still working, grease as appropriate.
16) Last but by no means least, check your trailer. Look at the tyres, you'll be given 3 points on your licence plus a fine for every tyre that is not legal. Check the lights still work, grease the winch and wheel bearings and service the brakes (especially if you launch from your trailer as the brakes could be severely corroded). Check all the cabling and don’t forget the brake away cable, it’s a legal requirement.