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Maintenance

Spring Start-up Checklist

Click here to download this article as a printable checklist

For many boaters, annual preparation and cleaning projects are necessary rites of spring that help prevent problems that could keep them off the water once the season is underway.

General

  • Do a general cleaning of hull, deck and topsides using a mild detergent
  • Make sure drains and scuppers are clear and well secured
  • Put on a good coat of wax
  • Clean and polish metal with a good metal polish
  • Clean teak and oil
  • Clean windows and hatches
  • Clean canvas, bimini and dodger
  • Clean interior including bilges
  • Check spare parts and tools and replace as necessary
  • Make sure registration is current and onboard
  • Make sure your have your Pleasure Craft Operator Card (mandatory for all by September 15, 2009)
  • Check and replace wiper blades if necessary
  • Inspect dock and anchor lines for chafing
  • Update or replace old charts, waterway guides
  • Review your boat insurance policy and update coverage if needed - including fuel spill coverage

Required and Recommended Equipment

  • Sound signaling device
  • Check distress signals and expiration date
  • Check PFDs
  • Inspect life rings
  • Check fire extinguishers and recharge if necessary
  • Check and adjust compass
  • Check navigation lights
  • Check charts and replace as necessary
  • Check radar reflector
  • Check and replace first aid supplies
  • Check bailer and hand pump

Hull

  • Check for hull abrasions, scratches, gouges, etc. and repair
  • Check and replace zincs
  • Check for blisters and refinish is necessary
  • Check rub rails
  • Check swim platform and/or ladder
  • Inspect and test trim tabs
  • Check shaft, cutlass bearing, strut and prop
  • Check rudder and fittings
  • Touch up or replace antifouling paint

Deck, Fittings, Safety Equipment

  • Check stanchion, pulpits and lifelines for integrity
  • Check ground tackle, lines, fenders, etc.
  • Check chainplates and cleats
  • Check hull/deck joint
  • Check deck, windows, and port lights for leaks
  • Inspect anchor windlass and lubricate
  • Clean and grease winches
  • Check and lubricate blocks, pad eyes, etc.
  • Check dinghy, and life raft

Below Decks

  • Check, test and lubricate seacocks
  • Check condition of hoses and clamps
  • Make sure below waterline hoses are double clamped
  • Check bilges pumps for automatic and manual operation
  • Check for oil in bilges
  • Check limber holes and make sure they are clear of debris

Electrical System and Components

  • Check battery water level
  • Check/recharge batteries
  • Check terminals for corrosion, clean and lubricate
  • Check bonding system
  • Inspect all wiring for wear and chafe
  • Test all gauges for operability
  • Check shore power and charger
  • Check for spare fuses
  • Check all lighting fixtures (including navigation lights) and make sure you have spare bulbs
  • Check all electronics for proper operation
  • Inspect antennas

General Engines and Fuel Systems

  • Inspect fuel lines, including fill and vent hoses, for softness, brittleness or cracking
  • Check all joints for leaks and make sure all lines are well supported with non-combustible clips or straps with smooth edges
  • Inspect fuel tanks, fuel pumps and filters for leaks. Clamps should be snug and free of rust. Clean fuel filters.
  • Inspect cooling hoses and fittings for stiffness, rot, leaks and/or cracking. Make sure they fit snugly and are double-clamped.
  • Every few years, remove and inspect exhaust manifold for corrosion.
  • Clean and tighten electrical connections, especially both ends of battery cables. Wire-brush battery terminals and fill cells with distilled water.
  • Inspect bilge blower hose for leaks.

Inboard Engine(s)

  • Change oil & filters - have spare onboard
  • Check and change fuel filters - have spares onboard
  • Check and change engine zincs
  • Check cooling system change coolant as necessary - have extra onboard
  • Record engine maintenance log, especially date & hours of last oil changes
  • Check belts for tension
  • Check transmission fluid
  • Check and clean backfire flame arrestor
  • Check impeller
  • Check and clean water strainer
  • Check bilge blower

Outboard Engine(s)

  • Replace spark plugs
  • Check plug wires for wear
  • Check prop for nicks and bends
  • Change/fill gear lube
  • Inspect fuel lines, primer bulb and tank for leaks
  • Lubricate and spray moveable parts
  • Inspect rubber outdrive bellows for cracked, dried and/or deteriorated spots (look especially in the folds), and replace if suspect
  • Check power steering and power trim oil levels. Replace worn-out zincs.
  • Inspect outer jacket of control cables. Cracks or swelling indicate corrosion and mean that the cable has to be replaced.

Water System

  • Flush water tank
  • Check water system and pump for leaks and proper operation
  • Check hot water tank working on both AC and engines
  • Check for tank cap keys on board
  • Check and clean shower sump pump screens

Galley

  • Fill propane tank, check electric & manual valves, check storage box vent to make sure it is clear
  • Check refrigerator, clean and freshen, operate on AC and DC
  • Clean stove, check that all burners and oven are working
  • Check microwave, if fitted

Head System

  • Checked for smooth operation - lubricate and clean as necessary
  • If equipped with treatment system, have chemicals on hand
  • Y-valve operation checked, valve labeled & secured

Sails

  • Check general condition
  • Look for wear and chafing
  • Check battens and batten pockets
  • Check all sail attachments
  • Inspect bolt rope

Mast and Rigging

  • Check mast and spreaders for corrosion or damage
  • Inspect spreader boots and shrouds
  • Inspect rivets and screw connections for corrosion
  • Check reefing points and reefing gear
  • Clean sail track
  • Check rigging, turnbuckles and clevis pins for wear and corrosion
  • Inspect stays for fraying and "fish hooks"
  • Check forestay and backstay connections
  • Check masthead fitting and pulleys
  • Check and lubricate roller furling
  • Check halyards and consider replacing or swapping end for end
  • Tape turnbuckles, cotter pins, and spreaders
  • Recaulk through-deck chainplates as necessary (generally, once a decade)

Trailer

  • Check for current registration
  • Check rollers and pads
  • Check and lubricate wheel bearings
  • Clean and lubricate winch
  • Lubricate tongue jack and wheel
  • Test lights and electrical connections
  • Check tire pressure and condition (remember the spare!) 
  • Check brakes (if equipped)
  • Check safety chains
  • Check tongue lock
  • Inspect frame for rust and sand/paint as required