ALEXANDRIA, Va., March 24, 2009 — Whether you have a power or sailboat, inboard or outboard, this Spring Commissioning Safety Checklist from BoatU.S. is an easy way to get ready for the season:
BEFORE YOU LAUNCH:
• Inspect and lubricate seacocks. Hoses and hose clamps should be inspected and replaced as necessary.
• Replace deteriorated anodes.
• Inspect prop(s) for dings, pitting and distortion. Make sure cotter pins are secure. Grip the prop and try moving the shaft – if it’s loose, the cutlass bearing may need to be replaced.
• Check to make sure the rudderstock hasn’t been bent.
• Inspect the hull for blisters, distortions and stress cracks.
• Make sure your engine intake sea strainer is free of corrosion, clean and properly secured.
• Check the engine shaft and rudder stuffing boxes for looseness. After the boat is launched, be sure to check all through-hulls for leaks.
• Use a hose to check for deck leaks at ports and hatches. Renew caulk or gaskets as necessary.
• If equipped, ensure that the stern drain plug is installed.
OUTDRIVES and OUTBOARDS:
• 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 anodes that are more than half worn away.
• Inspect outer jacket of control cables. Cracks or swelling indicate corrosion and mean that the cable must be replaced.
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 or replace fuel filters. Owners of gasoline-powered boats with fiberglass fuel tanks should consult a marine professional to inspect for any ethanol related issues.
• Inspect cooling hoses 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 (if applicable).
• Inspect bilge blower hose for leaks.
• Inspect swage fittings for cracks and heavy rust (some discoloration is acceptable). Inspect wire halyards and running backstays for “fishhooks” and rust.
• Remove tape on turnbuckles and lubricate threads, preferably with Teflon. Replace old tape with fresh tape.
• Recaulk through-deck chainplates as necessary (generally, once a decade). If you suspect the core around the chainplate is damp, remove the chainplate to inspect and make repairs.
• Inspect tire treads and sidewalls for cracks or lack of tread and replace as necessary. Check air pressure. Don’t forget the spare!
• Inspect wheel bearings and repack as necessary.
• Test tail and back-up lights and winch to make sure they’re working properly. Inspect hitch chains.
• Inspect trailer frame for rust. Sand and paint to prevent further deterioration.
• Inspect brakes and brake fluid reservoir.
• Check expiration dates on flares and fire extinguishers.
• Check stove and remote tanks for loose fittings and leaking hoses.
• Inspect bilge pump and float switch to make sure they’re working properly.
• Inspect dock and anchor lines for chafing.
• Update or replace old charts, waterway guides.
• Check shore power cable connections for burns, which indicates the cable and/or the shore power inlet must be replaced.
• Make sure your boating license and/or registration is up to date. Don’t forget your trailer tags.
• Review your boat insurance policy and update coverage if needed. Be sure you have fuel spill insurance coverage.
• Make sure you have a properly sized and wearable life jackets in good condition for each passenger, including kids.
• Test smoke, carbon monoxide, fume and bilge alarms.
• Be sure to get a free vessel safety check from the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary or U.S. Power Squadrons. Find out how at Safetyseal.net .
A free Spring Safety Pre-launch Checklist is available online at BoatUS.com/freebies/springlist.htm.