Inspect Your Boat Before The First Summer Cruise

June 28, 2018

The summer is already in full swing, and your boat is still not ready? What are you waiting for? If you skipped your spring boat maintenance for some reason, even though it’s summer, you shouldn’t neglect to inspect your boat before you take it for your first cruise.

Inspecting your boat will ensure that you save a lot of money and time on broken or malfunctioning parts. More importantly, inspecting your boat will ensure you don’t experience a critical failure while out in the open, which can be a stressful and troublesome experience.

Every boat and every electric motor should be inspected differently. However, in this article, we’ll provide some general tips and guidance to give you an idea of what you should pay attention to. It always helps to consult the owner’s manual or a certified ship repair company on the specifics or if your boat is showing some warning signs.

Fuel System Inspection

Exposed fuel system components are prone to deterioration and rot, which is why you should perform a visual inspection of these components first. If there is a primer bulb on the system (likely with outboard engines), apply pressure on it to reveal any possible leaks. If there are, you should check the concealed areas of the fuel system to ensure there aren’t any concealed leaks. 

The fuel hose should be bendable but still firm. If it appears too soft or too stiff, it’s probably due for a replacement. While inspecting the fuel system, make sure the fuel is not contaminated. Contaminated fuel can cause an array of problems out in the open, including complete engine failure.

Electrical System Inspection

First of all, if you don’t feel comfortable inspecting the electrical systems of your boat don’t hesitate to consult an expert. Electricity is not something to be playing with, so if you’re not absolutely confident in your skills, consider leaving it to a professional.

Again, perform a visual inspection to see if there are any signs of corrosion on the terminals or wired. If there are, clean the corrosion or make necessary replacements. Make sure to tighten the clamps and cover the terminals so nothing can cause them to short circuit. You should also make sure that the battery is held firm or restrained so that it stays upright.

Gear Checkup

Next, go through all the gear and make necessary replacement. If there are rips in the life jackets or if the seams don’t hold tightly, it’s best not to toy around and get new ones, and while you’re at it make sure you have enough life jackets for all your frequent passengers. Replace fire extinguishers over five years old. You can save your old ones for backup, but dated fire extinguishers are usually ineffective.

Other necessary equipment includes a throw cushion, an anchor with a secure line, a distress flag, and a horn. Even if you don’t plan to anchor out in the open, you should have an anchor in case of emergency, like your engine breaking down in the middle of a sail. Finally, always have a spare first aid kit and a basic toolkit.

Check Your Equipment

After connecting the battery, inspect all the equipment on board. Make sure the horn is working. Run the blower to hear if there are any issues with the fan. Also, make sure you can feel the air flow from the vent.

Inspect your bilge pump and clean the area around it, so the water doesn’t mix with the oil. Next, check the navigation lights, speakers, and other non-vital equipment.

The First Trip

Before your first trip, make sure to install the drain plug. Before you let all the passengers in, test the engine with no one aboard so you can notice if anything smells, sounds or looks fishy. Open the engine hatch and inspect if everything is in order. Let the engine run for some time to warm up. The first couple of minutes after starting the engine can tell you a lot about any potential issues. If you notice something is out of place, it’s best to cancel the trip than risk getting everyone stranded out in the sea.

After you’ve finished all these takes, you are ready to enjoy your first summer cruise. Make sure to familiarize your passengers with how to use life jackets, what they can or cannot touch and what to do in case of trouble arises.

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