• Getting Your Boat Ready For The Summer - Summer Prep!

    As the days get longer the grip of winter begins to wane leaving us longing for the water. Hopefully, all of your winter boating projects have been completed, and now it is time to turn your attention to preparing the boat for the summer. I am a firm believer in the idea that the more time you spend on your boat in preparation, the better time you will have on the water.

    The tasks required to prepare your boat for the water will depend largely on what work was accomplished while winterizing your boat. For this article to make sense you should read these articles, Keeping a Service Log and Winterizing Your Boat. They provide the background information that will lead you to the steps you will find here.

    The List

    If you don't have a service log, then you will have to formulate your own list. This will help you to stay organized, accomplish items in a logical manner and ensure you don't forget anything. I use a service log and constantly update the service prep section as I add items to the boat or re-arrange the sequence of items so the process will flow more smoothly. You will find an example of the service log I use attached at the end of this article.

    You should have a manufacturers service manual for your boat, and this is where you should begin. The service manual will list all the approved fluids, servicing time intervals and describe the steps required to service your boat. These items should be the added to your list. Don't worry about being too detailed, you can add details and rearrange the order later, we just want to make sure we don't forget these items.

    Attachment 1063
    Now it is time to visit the boat and add any additional items that require attention. The manufacturer's scheduled maintenance items are generally limited to the powerplant and related systems. However, we want to spend as much trouble-free time as possible on the water so the idea is to check everything that could potentially be a problem before you put the boat on the water.

    I recommend starting at one end of the boat and slowly work your way along adding items as necessary. Don't forget to add important safety items to the list such as horn, flares, and life jackets.

    When you are confident you have accounted for everything, organize the items into a logical order and expand on the steps required to accomplish the task.


    Tools Required, Parts and Fluids

    We won't go into detail on this here since it is described in detail in the Winterizing Your Boat article, but I recommend adding any additional items you will need to the list. However, since you will be looking at more items keep a full toolkit handy.


    For the remainder of this article, we are going to assume you winterized as described in the Winterizing Your Boat article. For our purposes the items will be arranged by the general location where they are normally found on the boat.


    The Stern

    Sterndrive
    If you performed the steps listed in the winterizing article, then just check the general condition of the sterndrive, look for fluid leaks and repaint if necessary. Once the tune-up is complete on the engine then a more thorough check of the drive can be accomplished.

    Anti Corrosion
    If your boat spent the winter on the water, then you will need to check the condition of your zincs. Replace them if they appear shiny or have reduced to approximately fifty percent of their original size. This can be accomplished during haul out if new bottom paint is needed.

    Washdown Stations

    Depending on the type of pump installed you may have to prime the system to get it working again. Once the system is pressurized check all the fittings for leaks, replace any leaky gaskets and hose washers that show signs of deterioration.

    Speedometer

    Ensure the pitot tube for the speedometer is not plugged and the hose has a secure connection.


    Engine Room

    Batteries
    Ensure your batteries are fully charged, clean and topped off with distilled water. Clean the battery connections and apply grease to prevent corrosion. Check the ends of the cables and make sure they are clean and corrosion free as well.

    Blowers
    Check the operation of your engine-room blowers. If more than one blower is installed it may be hard to determine if all of them are working. On some setups, you can actually see the blower spinning while others are buried in hoses and will require you to check the vents on the outside for discharging air.


    Engines
    If you really want to monitor your boats health, you should perform a compression test on the engine, this could have been performed during the winterization however I prefer to do this after I pull the plugs in the spring. Write down the compression values in your service log every year. A compression test can immediately point out problems with your engine if the compression on a cylinder is out of limits but it can also show trends. As you perform this test each year compare with the previous years values. Download this Mercruiser Service Bulletin that describes the proper way to perform a compression test.

    The tune-up procedure will vary depending on the type of engine you have installed, refer to your service manual for the proper steps. If your engine is equipped with a carburetor, clean the spark arrestor and the carburetor to remove any traces of the fogging oil. If you did not install a new raw water pump impeller accomplish that task now then verify the raw water pump hose is connected and open the seacock.

    If required, install new spark plugs, distributor cap, rotor, points and condenser. Once all of the new tune-up components are installed, perform a quick visual inspection of the engine looking for anything out of place. Now start the engine, check for proper waterflow from the exhaust, check for water leaks then continue with the tune-up procedure. Check the oil pressure and regularly monitor the engine temperature to verify correct thermostat operaton. Many manufacturers require the engine to have a load on it for a proper tuneup, in this case you should be able to get everything close and perform a final adjustment on the water. If you use an anti-corrosion product on your engine, apply a fresh coat.

    When the tune up is complete, allow the engine to continue idling while checking for anything abnormal. Now is a good time to verify proper operation of the sterndrive. Tilt and steer the drive through its full travel limits, up, down, port, starboard. Make sure to clear the area around the propeller and shift the drive in both reverse and forward. Allow the drive to run for a few minutes before shutting down the engine. Now check the level of the drive lube and add lube if necessary.

    Generator
    Basically, the same steps as listed above apply to the generator. I always wait until spring to replace the water pump impeller and air filter. Don't forget to open the seacock, and once you have completed the tune-up place a load on the generator to ensure it is operating properly.

    Hot Water Heater
    Make sure all the hoses are connected properly and the drain is closed.

    Fresh Water Tank
    Add a cap full of bleach and begin filling the tank with water. As the tank fills check the hoses and connections for any signs of a leak. Once the tank is approximately one-third full, reset the circuit breaker or install the fuse for the freshwater pump so it can pressurize the system. As the tank continues to fill, open the hot-water side of the most distant faucet from the tank and allow the air to bleed from the lines. When a steady stream of water flows from the faucet, close the hot water and repeat the process for the cold water. Perform the same procedure with the remaining faucets moving closer to the water tank. Once you have bled the air from all faucets turn on the power to the hot-water heater.

    When the tank is full once again look for any signs of a leak. Allow the water pump to pressurize the system and shut-off. Spend a few moments listening to the pump to see if it repeatedly cycles on and off, which is a sign of a leak in the system or within the pump. If the system holds the pressure, and the pump remains quiet you are done.

    Some people don't like bleach and use other types of disinfectants, but bleach works well for me. The water will have a slight bleach smell until the tank has been emptied at least once. If your tank has a calcium buildup make sure you have a filter between the tank and the fresh water pump and add a gallon of white vinegar to the tank. You will need to allow the vinegar to sit in the tank from eight to twelve hours to dissolve the calcium. Once the proper amount of time has expired, drain and refill the tank with freshwater. For the next several weeks, the water filter will have to be cleaned regularly as the dissolved calcium is flushed from the tank.

    The Bilge
    Verify the operation of your bilge pumps and ensure the bilge is clean. Check the condition of the stuffing boxes and adjust to the proper drip rate if necessary.

    Sanitation Devices
    If you device uses raw water open the seacock and begin flushing until you get a good stream of water flowing into the bowl. For other types of sanitation devices you should consult the manual for specific step to return the device to service.

    Air Conditioning
    If you haven't cleaned the raw water cooling coil in a while, you should do so now. You will need some heavy-duty rubber gloves and eye protection since you will be using a mixture of muriatic acid and water. The easiest way to accomplish this is to use a spare dc water pump to circulate the acid mixture through the coil. You will have to remove the hose from the discharge of the air-conditioning pump and attach it to the discharge of the spare pump. Connect another hose to the inlet of the spare pump and place the end of the hose in the bucket of acid. Connect a hose to the discharge side of the cooling coil on the air conditioner and place the loose end in the bucket of acid.

    Start the pump and allow it to run until you see the acid being pumped back into the bucket. Now allow it to sit for ten minutes and start the pump again. Allow the pump to continue circulating the acid mixture until the return fluid appears relatively clear. When you are done install the hoses back on the cooling coil discharge and on the air-conditioning pump then open the seacock.

    Most air-conditioning pumps are not self-priming and should have a scoop style thru-hull to build pressure on the system as the boat moves. So you may have to take the boat for a spin to prime the pump.

    The Bow
    If you have a washdown installed, check the condition of the rubber washers in the hose and replace if worn.

    If you have a combination rope/chain rode and removed it during winterization for cleaning, install it now. If you haven't already, re-splice the rope to the chain. On all rodes check the u-bolts and ensure the pins have a safety wire through them so the pin will not back out resulting in a lost anchor.


    Safety and Regulatory Items


    Now go over the boat and check the various items required by regulation, depending on your size and type of boat the following items may be required.

    - local or state registration
    - documented vessel paperwork
    - fire extinguishers
    - signalling devices (whistle, horn, flares, smoke)
    - appropriate navigation lights
    - MARPOL placard
    - Waste disposal plan
    - flotation devices
    - copy of the COLREGS
    - bailing device
    - emergency spill device
    - discharge of oil placard

    Check your local and state regulations along with the COLREGS to ensure compliance, or better yet schedule a vessel safety check, to find an examiner near you visit SafetySeal.net

    If you would like to see an item added to the list, please list it in the comments below.

     

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