|Spring Fitting Out Check Lists
A complete safety inspection of the engine, hull, and other systems should take, at most, only an hour or two.
And attention to detail this spring can make the upcoming boating season a lot safer and more enjoyable.
Out of the water
Outdrives and Outboards
- Replace deteriorated zincs. They disintegrate, giving you a good indication of what would happen to underwater machinery if zincs were not present. Zincs that disappear after one season indicate a serious problem with the boat's bonding and/or electrical system.
- Inspect prop(s) for dings, pitting, and distortion that can cause excessive
vibration and can loosen everything on the boat. Worn or loose props also cut
down your top end speed and fuel economy.
- Inspect the hull for blisters, distortion, and stress cracks. While small
blisters may be dried, sanded and
filled, larger blisters may require professional attention. Distortion and stress cracks should also be addressed by a professional repairman.
- Inspect and lubricate seacocks. Hoses and hose clamps (two at each fitting
below or near the waterline) should be inspected and replaced as necessary. This is also the best time to replace gate valves, if any,
with seacocks. Gate valves are prone to failure and are not as reliable as seacocks. You also can't glance
at a gate valve to see that it is closed.
- Make sure engine intake sea strainer(s) are free of corrosion and is properly secured. Strainers that were
not drained properly in the fall could have been bent by ice over the winter.
- Inspect the rudder and rudder post to make sure they aren't bent or damaged. Any looseness must be corrected.
Additional Preventative Maintenance
- Inspect rubber outdrive bellows for cracked, dried, and/or deteriorated spots. Look especially in the folds!
A bellows that is suspect should be replaced.
- Replace deteriorated outdrive zincs.
- Check power steering and power trim oil levels. Follow Manufacturer's
maintenance schedule or use
- Inspect all control cables especially the steering and throttle cables. Check rods, connection parts and outer jackets by working the wheel or throttles back and forth. Stiff operation or a crunching sound indicates a potential problem.
- Clean and inspect all battery terminals and connections. Loose connections can "arc," which creates an enormous amount of heat and is a fire hazard. Use a brass wire brush for badly corroded components and
fill battery cells with distilled water.
- We can't say enough about the importance of keeping a clean bilge. Routinely check for items that can foul a bilge pump. Leaves, left over construction debris, even human hair--you name it, can often find its way to the pump and clog its operation.
- Regularly inspect deck components for leaks or weakness. A loose hatch or window is essentially a great big hole if it were to suddenly give way. Or, a loose boy pulpit or lifeline could mean that someone might suddenly end up in the water.
- Check that your ground tackle (anchor, rode and shackles) are in good order and coiled or stowed properly. The anchor's flukes can often entangle with the rode and can make it difficult to deploy in an emergency. Loose shackles should be tightened. Replace rusted ones.
- Stoves and remote tanks should be examined for loose fittings and leaking hoses. All infrequently used canisters, spare tanks--even cleaning solvents should be stored ashore. They are corrosive if they leak,
and a huge fire hazard.
- It should be drilled in by now, but all safety gear needs to be inspected regularly for proper functioning and expiration dates if applicable. Don't forget to inspect flares, contents of the first aid kit, fire extinguishers and life jackets.