Ten Ideas for Spring Commissioning

In Southern California we don’t have to winterize our boats and thus in spring we don’t have to de-winterize, or un-winterize… we don’t even know the word for it. However, most of us So-Cal boaters use our vessels much less over the bitter, cold winter and come the 70 degree February days, we once again start planning the Catalina trip or start thinking about fishing. Here is a top ten list of items to check, after the thaw, at the beginning of the boating season.

10. Service the engines, transmissions/drives (and generator), fluids and filters, tune up (gasoline), rack set or injector s (diesel) and change the zinc anodes in the heat exchangers and coolers. Any leaks?

9. Check the shore power cord and inlet for heat damage, wear and provide strain relief on the cord.

8. Service below waterline components, bottom paint, rudders, trim tabs, zincs, cutlass bearings.

7. Test and service the high water alarm.

6. Check and service the engine’s cooling system, raw water pump and impeller and exhaust (water and exhaust gas) system. Again, any leaks? But don’t worry, if you ignore these they will remind you later.

5. Safety or carriage items (most are legally required), life jackets/PFDs (proper size, type and stored in the proper location), flares (every 3.5 years), fire extinguishers (yearly inspection, five year replacement or certification), horn, placards, stickers. What do “they” check for when they board?

4. Bilge pumps and automatic/float switches

3. Check and service rudder and propeller shaft seals. Repack traditional packing glands, service dripless shaft seals (yes they require maintenance too).

2. Personnel safety alarms – carbon monoxide alarms, smoke alarms, gasoline and propane vapor alarms. At least press the test buttons, make sure the wire is connected, replace any batteries and replace the units every five years.

1. Batteries, check them all for condition, replace before they become a problem and ruin your first spring trip.

And for the “one to grow on” idea, what about adding one new safety item every spring, how about emergency wooden dowel plugs, a VHF with emergency position emitter, or a crank type flashlight.