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Prep your boat because summer’s here

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Summer is upon us and as winter fades into the hot balmy days, so we take the covers and tarps off our boats and get them ready for action. Let’s look as some of the best tips to getting your boat out on the water without a hitch.

GENERAL INSPECTION

After getting your boat out of storage, the first step is to undertake a general inspection to ensure that everything is intact and in prime condition. Check bolts, fittings, anchor, dock lines and examine the hull for cracks. Check everything that does not require mechanical knowhow and check thoroughly.

PROFESSIONAL SERVICE

While some boaters have the capability to do minor mechanical work on their boats, the tougher jobs such as major services and other mechanical or engine related work is best left up to the servicing dealer. Qualified dealer mechanics will check all the major things and the more subtle problems that might occur, such as degradation of the fuel lines and checking for fuel leaks. What’s more is that dealers have the necessary diagnostic tools that can pick up anomalies such as compression variances which is very difficult for the boat owner to pick up without the required diagnostic tools. All motors and boats under manufacturer’s warranty are bound to be serviced at the dealer to maintain the warranty.

SAFETY COMPONENTS

Once the boat has had its general inspection and service if required, it’s time to stock up on the safety requirements such as life jackets, fire extinguishers, dry bags and radios. There should always be enough life jackets for the guests on the boat, and the life jackets should be regularly checked for wear and tear.

CLEAN BEFORE USE

During the colder winter months, when the boat is not in use, it will collect dirt and grime. Take a few days to thoroughly clean the boat by polishing the metal, cleaning the vinyl seating, washing the windows and deck and hovering the interior.

BOAT ON THE WATER

Once all the cleaning and maintenance checks have been done, you are ready to take your boat out on the water. What you don’t want to do is go full throttle as soon as the hull touches the water. Rather, let the motors warm up slowly and “settle in”. Going at a slower pace also allows you to notice any other inconsistencies, anomalies, tracking problems and steering problems that might crop up. Be cautious on your first trip all the while looking and listening for any signs of trouble.

STORAGE SUGGESTIONS

• Make notes of any repairs before your boat is stored.
• Fix hull cracks before the boat goes into storage because cracks can worsen during storage.
• As soon as you get the boat out of the water, remove the bilge drain and give the hull and the deck a good scrub to remove as much corrosive salt and sediment as possible.
• Clean all your through-hull strainers and open the sea cocks so that water can drain out, leaving them open for quite a while to dry.
• Clean the interior thoroughly and remove cushions and any other material items that attract mold.
• Clean out the fridge properly removing all moisture and leave the door of the fridge open to reduce mold.
• Clear out any storage lockers and leave the doors open for better air circulation.
• If your boat is completely out of action for the winter months, adding a fuel stabilizer to stop condensation is necessary. Remember to run the motor for about ten minutes to get the fuel stabilizers flowing through the fuel pipes and engine.
• An alternative to adding stabilizer is cleaning out your fuel tanks and leaving them dry for the winter months.
• Remove electronics and batteries from the boat and store them in a dry place off the boat where maintenance such as desulphating and recharging can take place.
• Flush the cooling system completely to remove and salt and sediment buildup that can cause damage and corrosion.
• Lubricate all hinges, latches, winches, linkages, ratchets, bow rollers and add grease to wheel bearings on the trailer. Apply marine grease to the gimbal bearing and engine couplers on sterndrives.
• Remove all flares, fire extinguishers, life jackets, fenders and ski ropes and store them in a dry place.
• Check the sacrificial anodes and remove and replace those that are more than 50% dissolved.

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