Slow down when fitting out

After a long winter, you may be itching to get back on the water as soon as possible. But when it comes to de-winterizing your boat, slow down and take your time so you don’t forget anything. Remember, if you don’t check it before you launch, you may be on the dock waving goodbye to all your fellow boaters.

  • Inspect all clamps, hoses, fittings, wiring, fuses, gaskets and lines as well as frequently overlooked items such as wiper blades, spare parts and tools. Clean and repair or replace them as needed.

  • Make sure your registration and insurance information are current and onboard. Check sacrificial anodes and replace as needed. Check and reseal seacocks as needed. Don’t forget the drain plug!

  • Check all pumps. Check belts and tighten as needed. Make sure you have replacements belts for the alternator and any pulleys. Make sure flame arrestors are clean. Check all strainers and filters.

  • Make sure you have the required safety equipment onboard. Check the expiration date on flares, and inspect life jackets. Are they in good condition and do you have enough onboard? Don’t forget to check your anchors and rode as well as your life ring, whistles and horn.

  • Lubricate and clean the head as needed. Check hose fittings and hoses, and replace if needed. Are the chemicals aboard or still on your shopping list? Is the Y-valve labeled and secure?

  • Did you fill the propane tank? There’s nothing worse than cooking a steak and running out of fuel, especially when you have guests aboard!

  • Sailors, check the general condition of everything. Look for wear and chaffing on lines and rigging. Check battens and batten pockets. Do they need re-stitching or repair? Check all sail attachments. Inspect bolt rope. Check the mast and spreaders for corrosion or damage. Inspect spreader boots and shrouds. Inspect rivets and screw connections for corrosion. Check and clean the sail track. Look carefully at the reefing points and reefing gear. Check rigging, turnbuckles and clevis pins for wear and corrosion. Check masthead fittings and pulleys. Inspect stays for fraying and “fish hooks.” Check the forestay and backstay connections.

  • Check and lubricate the roller furling gear. Inspect halyards, and consider replacing or swapping them end for end. Tape turnbuckles, cotter pins and spreaders. Don’t forget to lubricate the windlass as needed.

  • On your outboard motor, replace the spark plugs and check plug wires for wear. Check the prop for damage. Change or fill gear lube, and inspect fuel lines, primer bulb and tank for cracks and leaks. Lubricate and spray all moveable parts.

  • Check your trailer’s registration and keep it with the trailer or tow vehicle. Check rollers and pads, and clean and lubricate the winch. Lubricate the tongue jack and wheel, and check the tongue lock.

  • Check and lubricate trailer wheel bearings. Inspect tires for wear and pressure. Check all light connections and safety chains. Don’t forget to check the brakes.

  • When you think you’re done, have a USPS member perform a vessel safety check on your boat. It doesn’t cost anything and will give you peace of mind.

–Ed Jones



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