Your boat’s been in the water for a while now, so it’s a good time to go over the boat to make sure the second half of the season is problem-free. Here are some suggestions:
Exterior Beach Check. Next time you’ve got the boat at the beach, hop overboard and give the hull a good once-over. This is a good time to scrub the waterline and the transom with a stiff brush to remove slim and other growth. A rounded paint scraper will help remove barnacles. While you’re there, check the bolts and nuts on your transom, motor mounts and jack plate. The vibration from loose bolts can cause serious damage. Should they come completely apart at full power, the resulting accident can be serious. This is also a good opportunity to check your zinc anodes for corrosion. Stray current can eat up underwater metals quickly. So make this check a part of your regular beach routine.
Air It Out. On a dry, windy day, open the hatches, pry off deck plates and let the boat breathe, to reduce moisture and the chance for corrosion and mildew.
Exercise Seacocks. Open and close seacocks regularly. Besides an annual disassembly and lubrication, constant use will keep them in shape and will alert you to problems before they become catastrophic.
Check Engine Belts and Hoses. For inboard engines, look in areas near the belts for evidence of black dust – a sign that engine pulleys need to be realigned and the belt replaced. Push on the longest run of the belt – it should not deflect more than half an inch. Squeeze coolant and fuel hoses with your hands, looking for softness, cracks or bulges. Replace any that are suspect. Wiggle the ends to ensure they are secure and inspect for any possible chafing issues in the engine compartment.
How’s Your Fuel Filter? Check filters visually if you have a clear bowl, or by draining the contents into a clear glass jar. Like salad dressing, water and gas will layer, making water easy to see. Mark the date of service on the filter with a grease pencil for quick reference.
Give It a Quick Lube Job. Lube grease fittings and linkages. Spray engine, fuse blocks and ground buses with products like Corrosion Block or Boeshield T-9 that dry to a waxy film. Spray lubes that stay wet attract grit, making more of a mess.
Check Lines and Fenders. If your boat lives at a dock, chances are the same lines are tied to the same cleats, through the same chocks at the same chafe points most all summer long. Same with your fenders. Now is a good time to switch your lines around to reduce the chances of them failing because they wear through. If you’re on a mooring, consider a mid-season pennant change for the same reason.
Don’t Forget Your Fresh Water Tank. Midseason is a great time to make sure that your tank is algae-free and fresh water is as pure as possible. Aquabon Drinking Water Freshener ($14.99 at West Marine) has earned great reviews and is easy to use. Just pour it into your freshwater tank at the recommended dosage and there’s no flushing required. You can also add Camco Taste Pure Fresh Tabs (from $5.99 to $9.99 for a pack of six tabs depending on your point of purchase). One tablet treats 15 gallons of water.