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Check your boat thoroughly and regularly before use

by John Curnow on 11 May
Think ahead, so that all you have to do on the water is enjoy yourself. Bavaria Yachts Australia http://www.bavariasail.com.au
Whether it is the start of your season, or the end should not matter when it comes to good procedures. All watercraft, of all types and sizes need preparation, and the simple checks are often easy to perform, quick, and best of all, help you avoid issues later on.

Paperwork
Might sound simple, but is your boat registered? A nasty fine awaits you otherwise...

Education
Have you availed yourself of all the knowledge you might need to carry out the activities you intend to do? Marine authorities, clubs and other organisations have the courses and seminars you'll need and the web is full of recommendations as to which ones work, and don't!

Safety Gear
You know you need life jackets, but are they in good condition, and the right size and fit for your passengers? Some consider they should be replaced every five years, and if you're using PFDs, are the cartridges not corroded and still charged? One jacket for every soul is important, but everyone knowing where they are and how to use them is just as important. While you're at it, check your throw line, radios, fire extinguishers, flares and other crucial gear.

Hull and appendages
Inspect for blisters, distortions and cracks. Also, if your craft is trailable, make sure the vessel's drain plug is in place before launching. Check edges of keels and rudders, joins and look at legs, shafts, bearings and seals. Props should be free of dings, pitting, cracks and other issues, as the vibration they cause can lead to failure with things like cutlass bearings. Also ensure they are they are secured properly.

Fluids
Check all fluid levels including engine oil, power steering, power trim reservoirs and engine coolant. Also be sure to change the engine oil, oil filter and drive lubricants as per manufacturer's specs, which usually means once a year. This is especially important if the vessel has been sitting for a while, or you are unclear as to when they were last changed.

Belts, cables and hoses
The salt water environment and hot engine bays are quick to damage fuel lines, belts, cables and hoses. Age can be a killer. Crusty, cracked or overtly rigid items are signs that the time is nigh. Ensure belts are fitted tightly and that there are no cracks on the outer jacket of the throttle, shift and steering control cables.

Electrical system
Inspect all electrical connections to ensure they are clean, tight and corrosion free. Apply anti-corrosion material to terminals. Review your switchboard to snore there is no evidence of shorting or other issues, such as water/condensation leaks. All electrical systems should be regularly inspected by a qualified technician.



Fuel system
Check the system for any leaks or damages, paying special attention to fuel lines and connections. Damaged fuel hoses could either be cracked, brittle or soft. Also ensure the engine exhaust and ventilation systems are functioning properly. Before starting your engine, open the engine cover and smell for the presence of fuel vapour. Leave the engine cover off when first starting so you can inspect for proper functioning of the engine.

It is important to also inspect the condensation bowl, if there is one, the fuel filter for debris and that it actually has fuel passing through it. Also, where it is appropriate, ensure you have the correct additives to prevent microbes living in the fuel itself. Finally, run your engine(s) regularly, and if you cannot, then do run them for a sustained period of about 15 minutes before embarking on any journey, checking for proper functioning and also leaks etc, whilst still tied to the quay.

Running and Standing Rigging
These do need inspection by yourself at least, if not by a rigging specialist, especially if it has not been done for some time. Losing a runner will bring a rig down smartly, so check for corrosion, frayed lines and general wear and tear, at a minimum.

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