We recently published a pre-season check list to assist in dewinterizing our boat for the upcoming boating season. According to BoatUS insurance division there are five things that are often overlooked that can result in you boats first trip being one that isn’t on the water but under the water.
The Top Five Reasons Why Boats Sink in the Springtime:
- Missing or damaged hose clamps: These clamps are often removed in the fall to winterize the engine, and then forgotten about in the spring when the boat is launched. Tight spaces in engine compartments make it difficult to see some unsecured or deteriorated clamps.
- Unsecured engine hoses: Over the winter, freezing water can lift hoses off seacocks (valves).
- Spring rains: Combine heavy rains with leaking ports, deck hatches, cracked or improperly caulked fittings, chain plates and even scuppers clogged by leaves and your boat could be on the bottom soon.
- Broken sea strainer: Glass, plastic and even bronze strainer bowls can be cracked or bent over in the winter if not properly winterized, allowing to water trickle in when the seawater intake seacock is in the open position.
- Leaking stuffing box: If equipped, a steady drip from an improperly adjusted stuffing box (the “packing” around the prop shaft) has been known to swamp a boat.
With gas prices forecast to remain high here are six tips on spring commissioning that can be done now to save you money on fuel all summer long:
Lighten the load is one of easiest no-cost things to save on fuel. Clear out all of that junk that’s been stored aboard the boat over winter.
Get a tune-up: An annual tune-up is a must if you’re truly serious about saving fuel.
Check the prop: Props with little dings should be taken to a repair shop now. This is also the time to ensure you are happy with your prop’s performance – have a discussion with your marina or local prop shop to ensure you still have the right prop installed based on your current boating needs.
Paint the bottom: For boats docked in salt or brackish water, keeping the fuel-robbing “green gunk” growth from adhering to your boat’s hull can save a lot of fuel. But you’ll need to ensure the vessel has a new coat of bottom paint put on, making it difficult for anything to grow on the hull bottom.
Check the trim tabs: Unbalanced boats chew up the fuel. During spring commissioning, ensure that trim tabs function properly. Check the reservoir for leaks.
Twice a year we recommend going through our checklist to insure you boat is in great shape. It is a good idea to do this when you bring it out and get it ready for the season and prior to winterizing your boat for the winter again .
Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs)
- Check for wear or abrasion, weak or torn seams, secure straps and buckles. For the PFDs onboard for children, try to assess whether they will still fit in the spring. Perhaps a new PFD would be a great Christmas gift. Some types of PFDs are equipped with inflation devices; check to be sure cartridges are secure and charged.
- Do you have all required quantities and types of fire extinguishers?
- Have they been checked within the past year?
- Are serviceable units tagged by a licensed facility?
- Are units accessible?
- Is at least one accessible from the helm or cockpit?
- Are you and your crew familiar with their operation?
- Is the system properly grounded at the filter, tank, deck, pump, etc.?
- Is the fuel tank free from rust or contamination?
- No leaks from tank, hose or fittings.
- Hoses U.S.C.G. approved and free of cracking or stiffness with adequate slack to account for vibration.
- Is tank secured?
- Fuel shut-off valve on tank and at engine.
- Engine compartment and engine clean and free of oily rags or flammable materials.
- Blower switch at remote location.
- Is your fuel system protected from siphoning?
- Lifelines or rails in good condition.
- Stanchions or pulpit securely mounted.
- Hardware tight and sealed at deck.
- Grab rails secure and free of corrosion or snags that may catch your hands.
- Non-skid surfaces free from accumulated dirt or excess wear.
- At least two anchors on board.
- Anchor and rode adequate for your boat and bottom conditions.
- Tackle properly secured.
- Length of chain at anchor.
- Thimble on rode and safety wired shackles.
- Chafing gear at chocks for extended stays or storm conditions.
- Anchor stowed for quick accessibility.
- Labeled and designated for marine use.
- Properly ventilated to remove carbon-monoxide from cabin.
- Retainers or rails for pots and pans while underway.
- If built-in, properly insulated and free from combustible materials, CNG and LPG (propane).
- Stored in separate compartment from boat’s interior and engine room.
- Tightly secured shut-off valve at tank.
- Proper labeling and cautions in place at tank location.
- Hoses, lines and fittings of approved and inspected type.
- Compartment is ventilated overboard and below level of tank base.
- Wiring approved for marine applications.
- System is neatly bundled and secured.
- Protected against chafing and strain.
- Adequate flex between bulkhead and engine connections.
- Clear of exhaust system and bilge.
- System is protected by circuit breakers or fuses.
- Grounds to Zincs if required.
- Wire terminals and connections sealed to prevent corrosion.
- Will pump(s) adequately remove water in emergency? Do you have a manual backup? Are bilges clean and free to circulate (clear limber holes)? Do you check bilges frequently and not rely on automatic pumps?
- Through-hulls, props, shafts, bearings, rudder fittings, and exposed fastenings free of non-destructive corrosion.
- Zincs are adequate to provide protection.
- Through-hulls are properly bonded.
- Inspect the steering cables, engine control linkage and cables, engine mounts and gear case for corrosion.
- These items are properly lubricated or painted to prevent undue corrosion.
- Strainers, intakes and exhaust or discharge fittings are free from restrictions such as barnacles, marine growth or debris.
- Inspect sea valves for smooth operation.
- Handles are attached to valves for quick closure.
- Hoses are in good condition and free from cracking.
- Double hose-clamps below the waterline.
- Anti-siphon valve fitted to marine toilet.
- Through-hull plugs are near fittings or attached to hose in case of emergency.
- Stored in non-corrosive, liquid tight, ventilated containers.
- Non-conductive covers are fitted over posts.
- Batteries are well secured.
Spring is here and it is time to start thinking about dewinterizing your boat for the season. Even if you live in an area where the “boating season” doesn’t begin with the start of spring, your “season” will be here before you know it.
Because there are so many variables depending on the size and type of boat you have, we have categorized this list for your convenience. In order to assure a safe and uneventful season make sure that you go through the list below and make a note of any discrepancies that need attention.
- Do a general cleaning of hull, deck and topsides using a mild detergent
- Make sure drains and scuppers are clear
- Put on a good coat of wax
- Clean and polish metal with a good metal polish
- Clean teak and oil
- Clean windows and hatches
- Clean canvas, bimini and dodger
- Clean interior including bilges
- Check spare parts and tools and replace as necessary
- Make sure registration is current and onboard
- Check and replace wiper blades if necessary
- Check for hull abrasions, scratches, gouges, etc. and repair
- Check and replace zincs
- Check for blisters and refinish is necessary
- Check rub rails
- Check swim platform and/or ladder
- Inspect and test trim tabs
- Check shaft, cutlass bearing, strut and prop
- Check rudder and fittings
- Touch up or replace antifouling paint
DECK, FITTINGS, SAFETY EQUIPMENT:
- Check stanchion, pulpits and lifelines for integrity
- Check ground tackle, lines, fenders, etc.
- Check chainplates and cleats
- Check hull/deck joint
- Check deck, windows, and port lights for leaks
- Inspect anchor windlass and lubricate
- Clean and grease winches
- Check and lubricate blocks, pad eyes, etc.
- Check dinghy, and life raft
- Check, test and lubricate seacocks
- Check condition of hoses and clamps
- Make sure below waterline hoses are double clamped
- Check bilges pumps for automatic and manual operation
- Check for oil in bilges
- Check limber holes and make sure they are clear of debris
- Lubricate stuffing boxes, shaft and rudder logs
ELECTRICAL SYSTEM AND COMPONENTS:
- Check battery water level
- Check/recharge batteries
- Check terminals for corrosion, clean and lubricate
- Check bonding system
- Inspect all wiring for wear and chafe
- Test all gauges for operability
- Check shore power and charger
- Check for spare fuses
- Check all lighting fixtures (including navigation lights) and make sure you have spare bulbs
- Check all electronics for proper operation
- Inspect antennas
REQUIRED AND RECOMMENDED EQUIPMENT:
- Sound signaling device
- Check distress signals and expiration date
- Check Pfds
- Inspect life rings and cushions
- Check fire extinguishers and recharge if necessary
- Check and adjust compass
- Check navigation lights
- Check charts and replace as necessary
- Check radar reflector
- Check and replace first aid supplies
- Check bailer and hand pump
- Change oil & filters – have spare onboard
- Check and change fuel filters – have spares onboard
- Check and change engine zincs
- Check cooling system change coolant as necessary – have extra onboard
- Record engine maintenance log, especially date & hours of last oil changes
- Check belts for tension
- Check transmission fluid
- Check and clean backfire flame arrestor
- Check impeller
- Check and clean water strainer
- Check bilge blower
- Empty water separator filters
- Checked for smooth operation – lubricate and clean as necessary
- If equipped with treatment system, have chemicals on hand
- Y-valve operation checked, valve labeled & secured
- Flush water tank
- Check water system and pump for leaks and proper operation
- Check hot water tank working on both AC and engines
- Check for tank cap keys on board
- Check and clean shower sump pump screens
- Fill propane tank, check electric & manual valves, check storage box vent to make sure it is clear
- Check refrigerator, clean and freshen, operate on AC and DC
- Clean stove, check that all burners and oven are working
- Check microwave, if fitted
- Replace spark plugs
- Check plug wires for wear
- Check prop for nicks and bends
- Change/fill gear lube
- Inspect fuel lines, primer bulb and tank for leaks
- Lubricate and spray moveable parts
- Check for current registration
- Check rollers and pads
- Check and lubricate wheel bearings
- Clean and lubricate winch
- Lubricate tongue jack and wheel
- Test lights and electrical connections
- Check tire pressure and condition
- Check brakes (if equipped)
- Check safety chains
- Check tongue lock
- Check general condition
- Look for wear and chafing
- Check battens and batten pockets
- Check all sail attachments
- Inspect bolt rope
MAST AND RIGGING:
- Check mast and spreaders for corrosion or damage
- Inspect spreader boots and shrouds
- Inspect rivets and screw connections for corrosion
- Check reefing points and reefing gear
- Clean sail track
- Check rigging, turnbuckles and clevis pins for wear and corrosion
- Inspect stays for fraying and “fish hooks”
- Check forestay and backstay connections
- Check masthead fitting and pulleys
- Check and lubricate roller furling
- Check halyards and consider replacing or swapping end for end
- Tape turnbuckles, cotter pins, and spreaders
The Coast Guard is advising boat owners about the danger posed to their vessels by the recent and continuing snow storms and severe icing.
The Coast Guard has responded to several incidents recently where recreational or small fishing vessels sank at their pier or mooring due to excess weight from snow and ice. With the accumulation from this week’s significant winter storm, more vessels may be at risk.
“Harbormasters, marina owners and operators, and owners of recreational or small fishing boats still in the water should consider examining their boats for excess snow and ice,” said Capt. Verne Gifford, commander Coast Guard Sector Southeastern New England. “If safe to do so, they may want to remove some snow and ice to to prevent sinking from the extra weight. Owners may also want to consider removing their boats from the water altogether.”
The fact is that some things just disappear and no one knows where they go. There must be a stash of single socks and gloves somewhere in the heavens.
The same thing happens over time on your boat. So the winter season is a good time to check your onboard tool kit and spare parts to make sure none of those have disappeared into sock and glove heaven. That will give you time to replace what’s missing before your spring boating debut.
Every vessel should have a basic mechanic’s tool kit onboard. This kit should include, at minimum, the following:
- Socket set – 3/8 drive (3/8″ – 13/16″)
- Open and box wrenches (3/16″ – 1″)
- Screw driver set – slotted & Phillips
- Crescent wrenches – 8″ and 12″
- Pipe wrench – 1 3/4″ opening
- Vise grips – 8″
- Pliers – regular and needlenose
- Channel locks
- Assorted allen wrenches
- Wire cutters/strippers
- DC test light
- Volt/ohm meter
- Utility knife
- Hacksaw and blades
- Tape measure
- Spanner wrench(oil/fuel filter)
- Drill and bits
- Assorted punches
- Spark plug wrench
- Flashlight and extra batteries
- Wire #10 and #14
- Tie wraps
- Electrical tape
- Assorted screws, nuts & bolts
- Two-part epoxy
- Wooden bungs, assorted sizes
- Assorted electrical connectors
- WD-40 or slick lube
- Fuses, assorted ratings
- Bulbs, every type used on board
- Oil filters
- Fuel filters
- Air filters
- Hose clamps, assorted
- Flexible fuel line
- Transmission fluid
With all the winter boat shows and marine flea markets taking place in the next couple of months we thought we should issue a reminder regarding portable fuel tanks. The following article was supplied by Attwood Marine.
In an effort to reduce emissions from marine fuel systems, the EPA has created new regulations. These standards that went into effect on January 1, 2011, require that all new portable marine fuel tanks follow a zero-emissions policy. Therefore, fuel systems and their component parts needed to be re-designed to handle an inevitable build-up of pressure from limited ventilation, while still maintaining proper fuel flow and optimum engine performance.
Attwood Marine re-engineered their new fuel system components to handle tank expansion and keep the system safe under intense amounts of pressure and extreme temperatures.
Within this “closed” environment, each component of the fuel system also increases the potential for restricted fuel flow. Attwood components work together to alleviate this risk and ensure engine performance by maintaining flow requirements for marine engines.
Attwood’s engineering team took a cue from the automotive industry that has been utilizing multi-layer construction for years to help meet safety and emission standards. Consequentially, their new specially designed portable fuel tank boasts multi-layer construction with strong automotive-grade materials. Designed with the new EPA regulations in mind, the fuel tanks are tough enough to handle the expansion caused from fuel pressure build-up that would be problematic for other fuel tank systems. Part of this can be credited to the automatic vacuum valve in the cap that, when necessary, gives the tank a breath of ‘fresh air’ helping the whole system consistently perform at an optimum level.
Portable Fuel Tank
Features and specifications of the Portable Fuel Tank:
- Proven automotive grade multi-layer construction withstands the pressure build up associated with closed systems
- Engineered for harsh conditions, temperature extremes and abuse
- Injection molded interfaces eliminate leaks
- Tethered/ratcheting cap with automatic vacuum valve
- Available easy-to-read gauge
Eliminate wasteful and potentially harmful fuel emissions. Keep your investment running in top shape, and keep your fuel where it belongs – in your tank, when you use proven Attwood fuel system components.
Attwood Marine Products is the marine industry leader for fuel systems and accessories, with a reputation for our products’ durability and reliability. Enjoy being out on the water and keep your peace of mind with our fuel tanks, and other fuel system parts, all constructed to stand up to the pressure of the new EPA regulations. Visit the Portable Fuel and EPA Resources section of our site for further information on the new EPA regulations, potential effects of compliance, and the products that keep you safe and your engine performing.
When to Touch Up Varnish
The look of your brightwork says a lot about the pride of ownership that a boater has for his/her boat. A rule of thumb that you can use to tell if you need a touch up or a major overhaul of your brightwork is as follows:
Use a mild, soapy solution to wash thoroughly and get rid of all the grit and grime that has collected. (Hopefully, you do this more than once a season.) Rinse thoroughly with fresh water and dry. Take a towel and wet it thoroughly (make sure it is dripping). Drag the towel across the varnished surface. If the water that the towel leaves behind beads up the varnish is still in good condition. However, if the water that is left sheets or lies in flat streaks, you should plan on a light sanding and applying a couple of coats.
When A Varnish Touch Up Is Too Little Too Late
The only thing worse than going to the dentist is scraping varnish down to bare wood, sanding smooth and starting the arduous task of rebuilding 8 to 10 coats that will give you that “mirror” finish.
You can only patch the small abrasions and scratches so long until, ultimately, moisture has crept under the varnish and into the wood. This saturation of fresh and salt water will show up as dark patches under the still shiny finish. You will also notice lighter patches as the hot sun has glared down and has started to separate the varnish from the wood because of the moisture or perhaps the impact of dropping something on the varnish. It is at this point that you have no choice but to restore the integrity of the surface of your brightwork by scraping it down and starting anew.
Use the following as a step-by-step process to get brilliant brightwork consistently.
- I like to use a heatgun and scraper to remove the old varnish. This seems to go faster than sanding alone. In tight spaces you may have to just use sandpaper and lots of elbow grease. You should practice on a spare or out of sight piece to make sure you can control the scraper. Be careful not to make gouges in the wood.
- Once the varnish has been removed, sand the wood smooth using finer and finer grits of sandpaper. You may want to start with 80 grit to get all the rough areas and work up to 400 for that “babies bottom” smoothness.
- Before starting to apply varnish, make sure all sanding dust has been removed. Use a tack cloth dampened with a thinner that is recommended for the varnish you have selected. I lean toward varnishes with a high U/V rating. They tend to hold up longer in the sun.
- Stop! Don’t shake that varnish can, this is not paint. Shaking or even stirring will introduce bubbles which will show up on your brightwork. Most likely you don’t need to mix the varnish but if you feel obligated to make it move around the can while you watch, just swirl it slowly.
- Always filter the varnish by pouring from the can through a fine filter, or nylon stocking, into a small, clean container before applying each coat.
- For the first coat, thin the varnish with the compatible thinner 50/50. This will act as a sealer coat. Subsequent coats may be thinned if necessary to provide a good flowing viscosity.
- You may use a “real brush” or the disposable throw away foam brushes. Just make sure each is thoroughly clean and, if using a real brush, pull to remove any loose bristles or they will end up in your varnish work.
- Let the varnish flow on and only try to cover a small area at a time. Look for brush bristles, bubbles and holidays (spots that you missed) as you proceed.
- Make sure that each coat is completely dry before attempting to add another. Lightly sand with 400 grit paper between each coat.
- Repeat until you have 8 to 10 coats and that “mirror” finish that will be the envy of all at the marina.
Don’t throw away that old hose. Cut a piece about a foot long, split it and put it around your dock lines and anchor lines where they pass through the chocks to prevent chaffing.
Kitty Litter Below
When you put your boat up for a period of time put a few boxes of kitty litter below. It will absorb moisture, reduce mildew, and eliminate odors.
The Handy Coat Hanger
Always have a metal coat hanger in your tool kit. It can be used to:
- free hose blockages
- hook something in an inaccessible area
- used to replace a cotter pin
- used as a temporary tie down
- free blocked limber holes
Off-Season Maintenance – Paint
The off-season in many parts of the country can be used to maintain, upgrade or plan for the fun of the upcoming spring and summer boating season. A few “Rules of Thumb” that come to mind may help you with your winter activities.
Need a new coat of paint? In order to estimate how much paint to purchase use the following formulas. (Measurements should be in feet and your answers will be in square feet to cover). You then need to refer to the manufacturer’s brochures or the paint can itself to see how much paint is required to cover the square footage area.
Bottom Paint: Use the Load Waterline Length (LWL) times the beam times the draft.
For full keel boats multiple this figure by .75. For lighter boats with less keel multiply this figure by .50.
Example: LWL = 30 Beam = 10 Draft = 5 30 X 10 X 5 = 1500 X .75 = 1125 sq. feet to cover for a full keel boat.
Decks: Overall length of deck times the beam times .75. (subtract area of cockpit and deck structures)
Example: Deck length = 34 Beam = 10 34 X 10 X .75 = 255 square feet
Topsides: Overall length plus beam time 2 times the average freeboard.
Example: Overall length = 36 Beam = 12 Avg. Freeboard = 5 36 + 12 X 10 = 480 sq. feet.