Some of us have put our boats away for winter while some in the south and in the islands enjoy boating year around. Whether you are using your boat or have winterized it, it is a good time to come up with a to do list for your boat for the upcoming season. Some examples of things to add to your list:
- Is your safety gear up to date and does it meet federal and your state requirements? Here is a link for the USCG requirements: http://www.uscgboating.org/assets/1/workflow_staging/Publications/420.PDF
- All boats with living space should have smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms, do you? If so, then this is a good time to change batteries if you have not done so.
- Do you have an EPIRB? If so is the registration and battery in date?
- Remove your hand held fire extinguishers and turn upside down and hit the bottom with your hand, can you hear the dry powder settle? If not your fire extinguisher might be compacted and need replacement. If any doubts you can have inspected professionally. When was the last time the fire extinguisher in the engine room last inspected?
- Check you thru-hull vales, are the handles easy to turn, how do they look, corrosion, when was the last time they were serviced?
- Check all of the hoses and hose clamps, replace if needed.
- Inspect your fuel lines and condition of your fuel system. Does your fuel system meet USCG requirements?
- If you have lead acid batteries, check the electrolyte, are you batteries secure? Are the wire terminals tight?
- If you have an inboard engine, how is the condition of your stuffing box, cutlass bearing? Is your engine aligned properly.
- How is the condition of your lifelines? I often find lifelines that need replacement because of corrosion and cracks in the swage fittings.
- If you own a sailboat, when was the last time the rigging inspected?
- On sailboats chain plates are often neglected. Inspect for water intrusion, pitting and cracks. I have found Thermal Imaging to be useful in finding signs of trapped moisture in chain plates embedded in fiberglass.
- If laying your sailboat up for the season, this is a good time to remove your sails and have them inspected at a sail loft. Also it is a good time to order a new sail, some lofts offer discounts over the winter.
- Make a list of improvements you want for your boat and get estimates and see if any yards are offering discounts for work completed over the winter.