The calendar tells us it’ s spring although the evidence is sometimes hard to find at the moment!
Nevertheless, it’s probably a good idea to start getting your boat ready for the whatever summer there might be!
If you took care to winterise your boat properly then you already have a head start. If not, then now’s definitely the time to start.
Here are a couple of suggestions to help you get through the process.
The engine is probably the most important, and the most finicky part of getting your boat ready for spring.
Did you change the oil at the end of summer? If not, then it needs to be done now. If you used your boat regularly last summer, then it’s probably built up all sorts of by-products that will reduce the efficiency of the engine. Changing the oil can improve power and fuel economy, and helps prevent engine failure, corrosion and excessive wear. It is a good idea to change the oil filter and the oil in the transmission unit too.
Replace the antifreeze in the cooling system – a 50/50 ratio of water to coolant is ideal.
Check, and replace batteries where necessary.
Test the engine thoroughly before going too far afield.
Inspect any canvas and vinyl there may be on your boat – seats, canopies and covers. Repair tears and use a canvas and vinyl cleaner to remove any mould, mildew and dirt that may have built up over winter.
Inspect the hull carefully, keeping an eye out for blisters, and any other chips or cracks. A chalky residue on the hull could indicate oxidation which could need some buffering to restore the gelcoat to its original condition. Clean the hull with a marine cleaner, and then apply a fresh coat of wax.
Inspect and replace all windscreen wipers where necessary. If the wipers don’t need replacing then clean them carefully and apply a marine lubricant to protect against the harsh marine environment.
All exposed metal and teak on a boat is known as “brightwork”. Keeping it clean and bright will give your boat a fresh attractive look. It will also protect the wood and metal from pitting and decay
Thoroughly test the GPS, radio, compass etc. Make sure that all lighting and navigation equipment is working properly.
Life jackets, fire extinguishers, first aid kits and any other emergency and safety equipment needs to be thoroughly checked to make sure it is still reliable and safe to use
It’s also a good idea, now while you have the time, to check your fishing tackle. Empty your tackle boxes, and give everything a good wash in warm, soapy water. Salt can get to your tackle even when it’s kept dry, and it doesn’t take long for rust to start appearing. This is also a good time to convince yourself that you really need that new rod or reel.
Any other housekeeping should also be done now. Maybe just replacing cushions or cups to create a newer fresher feeling for your boat, or getting some new books and maps on board?
Start now, and you can do it slowly and carefully, making sure you’ve got those lazy, summer days for the important business of sailing.