Spring has sprung, and your marine insurance clients are anxious to get out on the water in their boats. Before they do, offer them this checklist to ensure their craft is ready for the waves.
Hulls and Propellers
- Inspect hull for blisters, distortions and cracks.
- Thoroughly check all the through-hull fittings above and below the waterline; ensure all through-hulls are clear.
- Ensure the drain plug is securely in place before every launch.
- If exhaust ports in the hull were plugged to keep pests out, be sure to remove the plugs.
- Be sure to clean the hull, deck, and topsides using an environmentally safe cleaning solution.
- If repainting or staining, be sure to first remove sacrificial zinc anodes attached to the hull and underwater metal parts; clean the metal surfaces they attach to and replace the zincs.
- Inspect rudders and struts that support the prop shafts; check shaft bearings for wear.
- Check propellers for dings, cracks, pitting and distortion to reduce unnecessary vibration.
- Ensure the propeller is secured properly, and replace bearings when needed.
Related: Preventing storm damage to boats
Engine and Fuel System
- Check the fuel system for leaks or damage, paying particular attention to fuel hoses that are soft, brittle or cracked, plus connections and tank surfaces.
- Make sure hose clamps are in good shape and free of rust.
- When replacing components, verify all fittings and clamps are properly secured.
- While inspecting the bilges, lift the float switches and ensure bilge pumps and high water alarm operate properly.
- Make sure all seacocks operate smoothly and lubricate them; inspect strainers.
- Ensure the engine, exhaust and ventilation systems are all functioning properly.
- Don’t fill your tank with fuel that contains more than 10 percent ethanol (E10) as it will damage your engine.
- As soon as the boat is in the water, go below and check for leaks.
- Be sure the engine seawater intake seacock is open. With the engine running, check for exhaust water flow. Watch the temperature gauge to make sure the engine’s cooling system is working.
- Electrical systems should be regularly inspected by a qualified technician to ensure clean, tight, corrosion free connections.
- Remove corroded terminals and use a wire brush to clean them, along with all cable ends.
- Charge your battery and have it tested to ensure it can hold a charge.
- Check all fluid levels including engine oil, power steering, power trim reservoirs and coolant.
- If you didn’t change the engine oil, filter and drive lubricants at the end of last year, do so now.
- Start engines and generators and warm them up thoroughly. Check battery voltage; a 12-volt system charges at about 14 volts. Inspect fuel, cooling and exhaust systems for leaks.
- Before you plug into shore power, inspect the ends of the cord and the receptacle that’s mounted on the boat for any signs of heat damage.
- Be sure pulpits, wire lifelines, stanchions and ladders are secure and in good repair.
- Check to see that running and anchor lights work.
- If the domestic water and waste systems were winterized, they will need draining and flushing. Any fittings that were disconnected need to be secured.
- You may want to shock the drinking water tank, not with bleach but with pool shock, which breaks down in a few day and can then be flushed out.
- If you have a propane system, light a burner on the stove. Then close all valves and check for leaks.
- If your craft is large enough for sleeping quarters, ensure you have working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
- Ensure placement of Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters for 110-volt AC outlets in galleys, heads, machinery spaces and weather decks.
- Check sails’ general condition, inspecting for wear and chafing.
- Check all sail attachments, battens and batten pockets.
- Inspect bolt rope.
- Check mast and spreaders for corrosion or damage.
- Inspect spreader boots and shrouds.
- Inspect rivets and screw connections for corrosion.
- Check reefing points and reefing gear.
- Clean sail track.
- Check rigging, turnbuckles and clevis pins for wear and corrosion.
- Inspect stays for fraying and “fish hooks.”
- Check forestay and backstay connections.
- Check masthead fitting and pulleys.
- Check and lubricate roller furling.
- Check halyards and consider replacing or swapping end for end.
- Tape turnbuckles, cotter pins, and spreaders.
- Inspect swim step supports, trim tabs, thruster grates and boarding ladders.
- Be sure the anchor and rode are secured properly and ready to use.
- If there’s a windlass, make sure it works properly. Look over mooring lines and fenders, and the mooring bridle if the boat is kept on a mooring.
- Ensure all fire extinguishers are in good working order.
- Inspect all life jackets/PFDs, flares and first aid kits.
- Ensure the horn, running lights, anchor light and searchlight are working properly.
- Check to see that the boat’s registration or documentation is current, and that all the required papers, including a copy of your insurance policy with claims contact information, are on board.
- Consider an EPIRB for situations of distress to ensure you can be found.
- Underwater transducers for depth sounders, fish finders and knot meters should be inspected. Make careful inspection of propellers and shafts, checking for damage and straightness.
Spring is the perfect time for a full safety and maintenance inspection, as your clients are taking their boats and yachts out in the warmer weather and longer days. It’s also the perfect time for them to update their marine insurance coverage with you. Following these steps can help them have a safe summer of boating, as well as protect their investment for many years.