SPRING IS HERE…. and the boating season is only around the corner….. Are you ready?
Springtime is the universal call for all boaties to get on the water, some boaties say “you can even smell it in the air”. The Snapper, still few weeks away from the season opening. Keep an eye on the ‘blossoming tea-tree’, as this marks the official start of the snapper season for boaties here in Melbourne.
Now is the time to get your boat ready for the summer season ahead. Don’t leave it until the last minute and please don’t say “she’ll be right” because the safety of you and your family depend on it. It’s easy to get your boat ready by following these simple tips to winterise after a long and cold winter in storage; ether in the garage or in the water.
If you did winterize your boat, you saved yourself some spring boat prep time and possible headaches, which means the road between your boat and the water is much shorter!
Although it is always best to winterize a boat before putting it into storage, if you didn’t, don’t worry. You can perform those tasks now for the spring commissioning.
1. Have your manufacturer’s manual handy
If you have a copy, great. If you don’t, it would be a good idea to get one (Google search may help).
You’ll need it to replace fluids and parts properly. Never take apart anything without consulting the manual first unless you know how!
2. The engine is the heart of the boat
Since it will most like take the greatest amount of time and be the messiest, start here. If you didn’t change the oil at the end of last season, do so now. After running your boat all summer, it’s likely that water, acids and other byproducts have built up. It’s important to change the oil to prevent corrosion and excessive wear which can lead to loss of power, poor fuel economy or engine failure. At the same time you change the oil, be sure to change the oil filter. Change the oil in transmission or the outboard’s lower unit as well.
Next, flush the cooling system and replace the antifreeze with a 50/50 ratio of water to coolant.
Check your fuel lines for leaks, loose clamps and/or corroded lines. You must also check fuel supply and ensure it’s not stale. If in doubt, replce your fuel on board with a fresh supply and safely dispose. Ask your fuel supplier and/or marine mechanic to assist as you may be able to just add a fuel treatment to the tank.
Finally, replace the batteries and perform a thorough engine test. Poorly charged batteries due to the lack of use, are a common problem. You don’t want to be stranded off shore.
3. Inspect the covers, clears & marine vinyl
Check your bimini top, seats, covers, and other vinyl and canvas items for tears, mildew, bird poo and dirt. Repair tears and holes, and then clean with the proper cleaner for canvas and vinyl. The acid in bird poo, will eat into your covers, if left unattended.
4. Inspect the hull
Carefully inspect the hull for blisters or other chips and cracks as well as for chalky residue. If you find blisters, repair them. If the boat’s hull is chalky, it could indicate oxidation. Determine the level of oxidation, and then restore the boat’s gelcoat to its original luster. Then, throughout the summer, follow the gelcoat maintenance plan to keep oxidation at bay.
5. Clean. polish and wax your hull
First clean your boat’s exterior using a marine safe cleaner from a marine supply store. Then, apply a fresh coat of wax according to the instructions in the gelcoat maintenance plan.
6. Inspect the windshield wipers
Inspect and replace windshield wipers if necessary. If the wipers are in good condition, apply a rubber lubricant to protect them from the harsh marine environment. Some experts recommend stowing wipers until you need them to keep them in good condition longer.
7. Polish the metal, stainless steel and teak
Known as brightwork, metal and teak enhance the look of your boat. If it’s dull, your boat will not have the same visual appeal as it might otherwise have. Also, prolonged neglect of metal and teak can result in pitting and eventually compromise the integrity of the materials and their intended use. To protect the metal, use metal polisher like Never Dull. For teak, it is usually recommended that you sand it and then apply stain and varnish.
8. Test all your electronics
Set up all the electronics and do a thorough test to be sure they are all working properly. Test the running lights, bilge, exhaust blower, radio, GPS, compass, depth sounder/fish finder and any other marine electronics fitted to your boat.
9. Clean the interior and check your bedding.
Whether you have an open deck or cabin with full galley, clean the area thoroughly to remove dirt and debris. Check the fridges, freezers and ice-chests for mould and mildew.
You might want to get all of your bedding and towels laundered at this time. Chances are, you’ve possibly forgetten about them and they are now a bit stinky and could do with a freshen up.
10. Check your safety gear
Flares have an expiry date and you must not carry flares on board that have expired. Check your batteries in your torches to ensure good operation; dead batteries are a common problem. Check the safe fitting of your life jackets, especially on the kids – as they may have grown out of them from last season. Just like school uniforms, life jackets won’t last forever.
Ensure you have good quality ropes onboard for mooring purposes and towing if you need to assist another vessel or worse still, if you need to be rescued.
If you are carring an EPIRB, check the registration details are still correct.
11. In water boats
For all boats kept in the water all year-round, you will need to check the underwater Sacrificial Anodes and check the condition of the Anitfoul. Sadly, unless you’re prepared to dive under the boat in the cold winter waters, it’s best that you call our Service Centre and have your boat slipped, pressure cleaned and checked.