April 2011

Ready, set, launch

Check your boat before you launch

Discover Boating, the recreational boating industry’s national awareness campaign, offers helpful advice for getting your boat ready to launch. Consult your boat owner’s manual for specific maintenance instructions.

Fuel system

Inspect the fuel system, especially hoses, connections and tank surfaces, for leaks or damage. Signs of damage include soft, brittle or cracked hoses. Replace components as needed, and ensure that fittings and clamps are secure. Check the engine, exhaust and ventilation systems for proper functioning.

Belts, cables & hoses

Ensure that belts, cables and hoses haven’t become brittle or cracked during winter storage. Belts should fit tightly around pulleys to prevent slipping; worn belts may have a black substance near the pulley and fit loosely. If you see cracks or swells on the outer jacket of control cables, you should take immediate action.

Electrical system

Make sure electrical connections are clean and tight. Corrosion may indicate an unsafe connection. Prepare electrical connections for summer by removing the terminals and cleaning them and the cable ends with a wire brush. Charge the battery, and test it to make sure it holds a charge. Have a qualified technician routinely inspect your boat’s electrical system.

Fluid levels

Check fluid levels including engine oil, power steering fluid, power trim reservoirs and coolant. If not done before winterizing, change the engine oil, oil filter and drive lubricants.

Propellers & hulls

Inspect props for dings, pitting, cracks and distortion. Damaged propellers can cause unwanted vibration, poor performance and damage to the propulsion system. Make sure the prop is secured properly, and replace bearings when needed. When inspecting the hull, look for blisters, distortions and cracks. Clean the hull, deck and topsides using an environmentally safe cleaning solution. And make sure the drain plug is securely in place before every launch.

Safety gear

Make sure you have enough life jackets for everyone on board. The PFDs should be in good shape and the correct size for passengers’ body weight. Onboard fire extinguishers must be the correct class for your boat, fully charged and properly stowed.

For a comprehensive maintenance checklist, visit discoverboating.com.

Stay cool while looking it with a palm tree jacquard Hawaiian shirt from the USPS Ship's Store

Mastering Marlinespike

Carrick bend

Praised by some as the nearest thing to a perfect bend, the carrick bend will not slip wet or dry, unties easily and can’t jam. It’s especially useful when bending large lines or hawsers together.


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