Preparing your boat for the season ahead!

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Coleman Marine Insurance is offering practical advice to boat owners to ensure that their boats are in good condition for re-commissioning and getting back on to the water in the Spring.

Yacht & Commercial Craft Development Manager, Tony Pauffley commented, “A lot of the advice that we are giving is very straight forward but often forgotten and this can cause unnecessary problems for owners once their boats are back on the water.”
“Early Spring is a great time of year to get your boat ready for the season. It can be so frustrating having to spend time later on during the season trying to fix a problem in order that you can go boating. Worse still is having something go wrong when you are actually out at sea.  Delaying essential work can often also work out to be more expensive and problems arising could seriously spoil your day or season.”
Tony continued, “Draw up a list of the items you know need some attention, divide them up into the ones you are going to attend to and the ones you are going to need to ask the boatyard or contractor to fix . Be aware of the lead times. Easter is a particularly busy time in all boat yards. To fit extra jobs in will not normally be possible and lead times can be three to four months.
“Here are some general areas that might prompt you;”
Engine Servicing
I think it’s good to encourage customers to develop a relationship with one engineering company and to talk to them so the engineer they used to get the boat ready for winter should also be used to get the engine ready for the season. Let them know your intended launch date and get the required work booked in before the usual seasonal rush. Work will usually include changing of oil and filters, v-belt, anodes, impeller & batteries. Include in with this work all machinery up to and including the propeller. Having an engine that you can really rely on can save the day when manoeuvring in tight situations.
Skin fitting & Seacock servicing
Whilst the boat is ashore, check that all seacocks are operating and inspect skin fittings and seacocks for any indication of electrolysis damage. If in any doubt, get the boat yard to do this for you. All underwater fittings should be double clipped and it’s a good idea to have a wooden bung attached to each under water outlet.
Hull Anodes
Check that they are working as normal. If not, what has changed? Have you moved location? Do you have the correct anode material? Is the internal earth wire intact? Are the studs in good condition? With an ever- increasing dependence on shore power your anodes can become your last line of defence. Regular inspection is essential.
Mast, Spars, Sails & Rigging
If the mast is down it’s a great time to get a rigger to do a full inspection. If the mast is still stepped you might have to wait until the vessel has been relaunched to do the full inspection.  If the standing rigging is getting on in age it could be worth having it all replaced. Mast fittings and sails should all be inspected for damage and corrective work undertaken.
 
Antifouling
Did the antifouling you used last year perform well? If not, seek advice and possibly consider a change -not all antifouling is compatible. It’s always best to get the best finish you can before applying the next year’s antifouling. Any imperfections will slow the boat or cost in fuel consumption because the vessel will have to fight the drag. A mid-season clean up could also be worth planning in before a longer passage or set of races. Please follow manufacturer’s recommendations when handling and working with antifouling.
Check the safety gear.
It’s essential to check that you have the correct fire extinguishers on board and that they are in date. To have a carbon monoxide detector fitted might be a good idea. Restock the first-aid kit. Inspect the life jackets, life lines and jackstays – replace or service as required. Have the correct in date flares on-board for the navigation intended.
Navigation and electronics
Navigation lights & equipment need to be checked for operation as far as you are able with the vessel laid up.
Exterior and interior Valet
Giving the boat a good clean inside and out will not only make her much more pleasant to own and operate but will also make it much easier to identify a problem and fix. Marine specific cleaning products can really help with the task of cleaning the boat and avoid damaging the vessel in the process of cleaning.  This is also a good time to give the gelcoat some protection from the elements with a quality marine polish.
The Heads
It’s a long-standing tradition that the skipper is responsible for looking after the heads – it’s operation and the general cleanness of the loo compartment. I would recommend taking the time to give it a service and clean to make sure it is operating properly. Nobody likes stinky heads!
Freshwater
The final recommissioning of the fresh water system is best done in the water and just before you start using the vessel.
Concluding, Tony advised, “The tips that I have given in this article are intended as useful information only and I would always strongly recommend that a boat owner refers to their owner’s manual for manufacturer’s advice and guidance and always looks to seek the advice of professionals when in doubt.”