Even if winterizing isn’t a necessity where you live, fall is a good time to thoroughly inspect, clean and maintain your boat—whether you haul it out or leave it in the water all season.
Topside rigging Examine your sailboat’s standing rigging for wear on shrouds, blocks and tackle. Repair or replace as needed.
Deck rigging Safety lines can fray and railing stanchions can come loose, so carefully inspect and repair them as needed.
Exterior finish Check gel coat and paint for cracks and wear, and check caulking around hatches and portholes. Clean and, if needed, wax the boat’s topside and hull. Wax lasts longer in cool weather.
Mechanical equipment Winches should be properly lubricated. If you don’t use your anchor regularly, the heavy oil in the anchor winch gear box can break down in the summer heat. Changing the gear box oil helps ensure that your winch won’t be frozen when you need it.
Wipers Check your windscreen wipers and other exposed rubber parts for wear; replace as needed.
Bottom paint and zincs Examine bottom paint and zincs after hauling, or have a diver check them if the boat remains in water.
Safety equipment Check the expiration dates and overall condition of all safety equipment, including flares and fire extinguishers. Examine all personal flotation devices for damage and wear. Discard and replace worn or damaged life jackets.
Charts Ensure that your paper and electronic charts are up-to-date. Replace outdated charts.
Water tanks Clean and sanitize your boat’s water tank according to the manufacturer’s recommendations.
Oil Once broken in, most boat engines get about 200 hours or one year on an oil change. Fall is a good time to change the oil, because dirty oil can corrode your engine if left sitting in the sump all winter.
While changing the oil, clean the engine room, check batteries for corrosion, and examine belts, filters, pumps and other small but important pieces of equipment that are often overlooked until they fail.
Routine maintenance ensures a safe and pleasant season of boating for you and your crew. –Fred Spiegelberg