Summer Boating Goes More Smoothly With This Spring Commissioning Checklist

To help boaters have a trouble-free summer boating season, BoatU.S., the nation’s largest recreational boating association, has a spring commissioning checklist. Whether you have a power or sailboat, inboard or outboard, following this checklist is an easy way to get ready for the season.

BEFORE YOU LAUNCH:

  • Inspect and lubricate seacocks. Hoses and hose clamps should be inspected and replaced as necessary.
  • Replace deteriorated zincs.
  • Inspect prop(s) for dings, pitting and distortion. Make sure cotter pins are secure. Grip the prop and try moving the shaft - if it’s loose, the cutlass bearing may need to be replaced.
  • Check to make sure the rudderstock hasn’t been bent.
  • Inspect the hull for blisters, distortions and stress cracks.
  • Make sure your engine intake sea strainer is free of corrosion and properly secured.
  • Check the engine shaft and rudder stuffing boxes for looseness. After the boat is launched, be sure to check these as well as through-hulls for leaks.
  • Use a hose to check for deck leaks at ports and hatches. Renew caulk or gaskets as necessary.

OUTDRIVES and OUTBOARD ENGINES:

  • Inspect rubber outdrive bellows for cracked, dried and/or deteriorated spots (look especially in the folds), and replace if suspect.
  • Check power steering and power trim oil levels. Replace worn-out zincs.
  • Inspect outer jacket of control cables. Cracks or swelling indicate corrosion and mean that the cable has to be replaced.

ENGINES AND FUEL SYSTEMS:

  • Inspect fuel lines, including fill and vent hoses, for softness, brittleness or cracking. Check all joints for leaks and make sure all lines are well supported with non-combustible clips or straps with smooth edges.
  • Inspect fuel tanks, fuel pumps and filters for leaks. Clamps should be snug and free of rust. Clean fuel filters.
  • Inspect cooling hoses and fittings for stiffness, rot, leaks and/or cracking. Make sure they fit snugly and are double-clamped.
  • Every few years, remove and inspect exhaust manifold for corrosion.
  • Clean and tighten electrical connections, especially both ends of battery cables. Wire-brush battery terminals and fill cells with distilled water.
  • Inspect bilge blower hose for leaks.

SAILBOAT RIGGING:

  • Inspect fittings for cracks and rust. Inspect wire halyards and running backstays for "fishhooks" and rust.
  • Remove tape on turnbuckles and lubricate threads, preferably with Teflon. Replace old tape with fresh tape.
  • Recaulk through-deck chainplates as necessary (generally, once a decade).

TRAILERS:

  • Inspect tire treads and sidewalls for cracks or lack of tread and replace as necessary. Check air pressure. Don’t forget the spare!
  • Inspect bearings and repack as necessary.
  • Test tail and back-up lights. Test winch to make sure it’s working properly.
  • Inspect trailer frame for rust. Sand and paint to prevent further deterioration.

MISCELLANEOUS: