Thursday, May 31

Boating In-Season Check List

By Andrew Spaulding, Editor Lakeside Story

Well, by now most of you have your boat in the correct marina (thanks NATO) and the boating season has started. Proper maintenance of your boat is a 12 month process which in the summer means keeping track of your equipment and systems. Identifying issues before a failure will often lead to repairs so we can help you save an important weekend trip or vacation later on in the summer.

What to check? There is a long list of things to check, so I like to break the list down to manageable bit size lists. Each owner will have a personal preference of how to break there boat up into sections which is fine. After all the object is to make easy so that you will do the chore. I usually breakdown the things to check by system (fresh water, cooling water, electrical, air conditioning, hydraulic, black water, grey water, etc.) and by section of the boat (forward cabin, heads, port main cabin, starboard main cabin, navigation station, helm station, cockpit, main deck, etc.).

When each one of these areas comes up on the list, I inspect it thoroughly and make notes regarding any issues found or things noticed. Divide up your list so that you make the whole round trip though the list twice each season. Notice that each section of the boat will hold a portion of a system or two and each system is found in more than one area of the boat. So if you get through the list twice, you have actually checked that area multiple times.

So, we have a list and we know when we are going to check the list…great…what now? I give you a few examples (please do not consider this a complete list in any way) of what you are looking for when you are checking a system or section of the boat. If you haven’t done this before, the first time through the list make sure that you have your manuals and owner instructions in a logical place. In the front of your notebook or system manual make notes of equipment model and serial numbers and the number of operating hours if applicable. This is the start to proper system maintenance.

Fresh Water System: Start at the tank(s). If your tank has an inspection port, open it and inspect the inside of the tank for sediment, mold and odor. Make sure the hose clamps are tight at the tank fittings. Check the pump and hose connections. Tighten the pump mounting bolts. Most small boat water pumps vibrate loosening mounting hardware over time. Check faucets, shower heads, and washdown stations for drips and leaks.

Electrical System: Measure the battery voltage at the batteries with a multi-meter. Standard electrical panel dial gauges can be significantly off. I had one once that was a whole volt off that led to all sorts of problems. Check grounding straps, the electrical panel for loose connections, battery switches, test any 120VAC GFI outlets, test CO and smoke alarms. Check all the lights and other electrical switches. 

Air Conditioning: Check the cooling water inlet valve and strainer tighten hose clamps; inspect hoses for chafing as the pass through bulkheads and stringers. Clean any air filters. Check the unit for icing and make sure there are no kinks in the outbound cooling water hoses.

Sections of the boat: Check all the stuff that you cannot see. Check for evidence of leaks, cracks, bad odors, tighten hose clamps, exercise through-hull seacock valves, Check for chafe on wires and hoses; also check them for kinks or bends over sharp edges. Make sure wires at secured and wire terminal are clean of corrosion. Check terminals for broken wire strands and missing wire insulation. Clean up any dirt and debris that you find, so that on your next inspection of this area it will be easy to notice any changes.

Of course, with such a big topic I cannot cover all of the things to check on your boat. Hopefully, my few examples will be enough for you to make up your own check list. I am available for an onboard consultation where we can go through your boat stem to stern to make your checklist. Email me at to set an appointment.

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