With winter moving rapidly astern, it’s time to bring your boat out of storage and get it back in the water.
But before you hoist sail or crank the engine and start heading out into the wild blue yonder, here’s a few things you need to check to make sure your boat is eh… shipshape and ready for action.
Most importantly, make sure you have current and up to date boat insurance. There’s a lot going on both in and on Australia’s waterways. Strong currents, deep water, a wide array of aquatic wildlife, big swells, sudden storms, strong squalls, other boats and a whole host of other nautical watch-outs.
So make sure your boat is covered against all eventualities. That way, you won’t be left high and dry is something should go wrong.
Boat’s Hull and Storage:
When you take your boat out of storage, the first thing you need to do is uncover it.
If you had it covered with a tarp, fold it carefully and store it; if it was shrink-wrapped, then be sure to dispose of the wrap properly and recycle it.
Next up, a walk round visual inspection.
Check for cracks in the hull. If you find any, then these are going to have to be repaired and repainted.
Have a close look at all the screws and fittings and make sure they are well lubricated and fitting snugly.
If your boat has been on a trailer, then don’t forget to inspect this as well. Double check all the supports are in good shape and have not been bent or damaged. Test all the wiring and make sure brake and turn signals are working correctly.
After being under wraps for the winter, your boat is probably a bit dusty, mildewy or full of critter poop. So time to give it a good clean.
Scrub the hull using a mild detergent solution or diluted trisodium phosphate. Wax it with a good-quality marine paste wax.
Check electrical and mechanical systems:
If your boat has been in storage for a long time then a battery change may well be in order—If not, make sure the existing one is fully-charged before you get in the water. Once the battery is up and running, check all the electricals. Lights, gauges, pumps etc. Replace any worn hoses, burnt-out bulbs and systems.
If you put your boat away with fuel still in it, then it might be worth draining it and refilling it with a fresh tank. Fuel that has been left for too long gets contaminated with water and this reduces its efficacy.
Next check your oil, spark plugs and filters
O.k, you’re nearly ready for the first voyage of the summer. But before you weigh anchor, start the engine and let it idle. Check for fuel leaks. Now, rev it briefly. Does it sound like it should? If not then seek help from a professional marine mechanic.
Learn the ropes:
It’s a good idea to check all ropes and lines before you set sail for the summer. They may have frayed or suffered abrasions from cleats and mooring posts. If in any doubt, purchase new ones.
Women and children first:
Right, you’ve made the boat safe and seaworthy, but what about the crew?
You don’t want to have your family out there with safety equipment that isn’t up to par. So, first up, check the Life jackets and make sure they haven’t expired and are fully compliant.
Have you got a full complement of flares, fire extinguishers, locater beacons, and any other safety equipment you might need?
On a more personal level, make sure you’ve got plenty of sunblock. The reflected radiation off the water can fry you pretty quickly and give you sunstroke. Oh, and don’t forget toilet paper.
Also have a few sea-sickness pills floating around for the less-experienced mariners amongst you.
Done all that? Then congratulations on running a tight ship. Now you’re ready to set sail and enjoy a safe and fun summer on the water.