Prepare to Launch

By Patrick Farrell May 10, 2011

Boating Tips

Summer is just around the corner, and for boaters, that means preparing for launch. NBOA Marine Insurance has gathered some important tips to ensure that your boating season is a safe and successful one.

Prior to Embarking, if you store your boat in the water

  • Have your local certified technician inspect your boat, engines and systems prior to boating season.
  • Double check that the drain plug is tight and in place.
  • Check that the bottom paint and zincs are in good condition.
  • Inspect all fittings below and above the waterline of your vessel, as water and sunlight can cause significant damage.
  • Make sure that all external transducers are clean and free of any debris.
  • Check propellers, shaft bearings, swim step supports, trim tabs, rudders and thrusters.
  • Inspect outdrive fluids to ensure that they are topped off and that no visible signs of water are present.
  • Inspect bellows to make sure that they are free from barnacles and wear, and are in good shape, as failed bellows can easily sink a boat

Inside the Vessel

  • Check seacocks, strainers, vented loops, hoses and hose clamps.
  • If your boat is equipped with inboard engines, look at stuffing boxes, exhaust hoses and mufflers. Be sure muffler drain plugs are in place.
  • Inspect engine belts for any wear and replace if needed.
  • Run the steering from left to right to be sure it’s working appropriately.
  • Inspect that battery water levels and connections are tight and free from any corrosion.

At the Launch Site

  • Watch closely and check for leaks as your boat is launched.
  • Be sure that the seawater intake sea cocks are open prior to starting any engines.
  • Watch for abnormal engine temperature or oil pressure after starting engine(s).
  • Check the anchor gear, mooring lines and life rings, or throw cushions.
  • If the boat’s on a mooring buoy, pay close attention to the mooring bridle.
  • If you connect to shore power, be sure both ends of the cord, and the receptacles on the boat and the dock, are in perfect condition. Turn the breaker switches on only after cords are safely connected at the boat and dock.
  • Replace any fittings that have any sign of heat damage or corrosion.
  • Be sure the battery charger is working once the boat is plugged in.
  • Check battery voltage to be sure the alternators are working.
  • Drain and flush the domestic water system thoroughly and fill the water tanks.
  • Check for leaks in the pump.
  • If you have a propane stove, open the valve on the tank, turn on the solenoid valve and light a burner on the stove. Then turn off the burner, leave the solenoid valve open, and close the valve on the tank. Note the reading on the pressure gauge, wait 10 minutes, and read the gauge again. If the reading has changed, use soapy water to find the leak and repair it before use.
  • Ensure that your flares have not expired, and replenish your First-Aid Kit. Check that there is one lifejacket for each person on board. Have PFDs easily accessible and make sure that your guests are aware of the location of all safety items.
  • Make sure the horn, running lights, anchor light and searchlight work properly.
  • Inspect all fire extinguishers, CO detectors and smoke alarms.
  • Have a happy and safe boating season!

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