Boats are very much like cars in that they need constant checking after usage. Usually, when we fill a car up with petrol, we check the oil, pump the tyres to the correct pressure, add water where needed, check brake fluids and power steering fluids to ensure the car continues to offer excellent, unfaltering service. Well, the same applies to your boat. After you’ve used your boat, there are certain mandatory checks that need to happen to ensure your future trips on the water are safe and secure. Checking the boat before you go out to sea is also critical, but many boaters neglect to check the boat when they come back from a fishing trip or cruise. Being on the water is very satisfying and often tiring, but it is still highly important to check the boat when getting back to the dock. Let’s have a look at the basic checklist when you return to the marina or slipway.
Trim the motors out of the water as far as you can, or inspect the props when the boat is on the trailer for damage, metal tears, nicks and dings. Give the prop a spin with your hand to check for any fishing line that might be caught around the prop shaft or inside the barrel.
Always keep an eye on the engine temperature gauge to ensure it is running in its normal range. Check the telltale to make sure it has good flow. If the telltale is not flowing freely, locate and clean out any blockages or clogged debris.
Check the batteries with a voltmeter to ensure you have the correct voltage being registered and check all the battery connections and clean where needed.
Different motors from different manufacturers have different requirements for checking oil and oil replacement. Consult the handbook for your particular motor and check the oil levels after usage. Oil is a critical requirement to lubricate the engine. Without it, you will not have a working engine. Any sign of milky oil usually indicates water has contaminated the oil and that the motor will need to have its oil and seals changed to prevent any further damage. The smell of burnt oil often indicates an engine that has overheated and the inclusion of metal shavings in the oil indicates more severe internal problems within the engine.
ELECTRICAL AND BELTS
Check all electrical fittings and connections to ensure they are tightly connected and secure. Make sure hose clamps are tight and belts are not showing signs of cracking or wear.
If your boat is trailered, check all throughhull fittings for corrosion and clogging.
Do a quick check of the bilge to see if there is excess water. Take a look at the float switch and that seacocks are properly closed. Do one final check for any cracks and leaks in the hull.
Doing the checks on your boat, when you return to the slipway, should take a couple of minutes of your time at best. At least once the checks are complete you will be safe in the knowledge that your boat is good to go for the next trip.