How Often Should Your Boat Be Inspected
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Do you want to know how often your boat should be inspected? This article discuses all you need to know about boat inspections and looks at why they are so important.
How Often Should Your Boat Be Inspected?
Good boat maintenance is a lot of work at regular intervals, making most people hesitant to do most maintenance tasks. Boat owners should regularly assess their electrical systems, safety equipment, and boat engine, but how often should boat maintenance be done?
Boat Maintenance Schedule
Establishing regular maintenance of your boat entirely depends on how frequently it is used. While the owner's manual will outline a boat maintenance schedule, many owners begin to develop their own.
Here are some tips for maintaining and improving the boat's life monthly, quarterly and annually.
Each month, you should perform a visual inspection as a vital part of the boat service. From there, washing down the interior and exterior of the boat's hull and surrounding materials will help prevent corrosion and ensure salt, dirt, and other contaminants don't damage the glass or gel coating.
This can easily happen over time and can affect the fuel filters and electrical system and increase boat maintenance costs.
Checking the bilges will ensure they are dry and in good shape. Most people will ignore this, but ensure you give all aspects of your vessel a good scrub and regular check, as this can prevent serious issues from arising.
Boat owners who do not take the ship out that often should be running the engine regularly, checking the engine oil, coolant levels and transmission oils - among other factors.
If you are aware of the last time you ran the engine with no issues, and you are doing this on a regular basis, you are putting your boat in the best possible light and condition.
The last thing you should do monthly is pump out and empty the waste tank. Cleaning out and servicing this monthly will ensure a sanitary system is prepared for your next journey.
Whether you are sailing the boat regularly or not, you should spend each quarterly season scrubbing the hull from the various growth you will accumulate from the sea.
On larger boats, this will take a lot longer to complete, so hiring a professional diver to clean the underside will save you time and money.
Be sure to clean the deck down and check fuel levels, especially if you haven't used the machine in a while. The covers should be checked and cleaned, checking thoroughly for moss or mould on the area. Using a car and trailer to move the boat inland for an inspection isn't unheard of at this stage.
There are many moving components that can wear down and become tired over time, so while this list covers most of the craft, you should be checking the rest where you deem fit.
An annual service is essential for both boat and boat trailer maintenance as it'll ensure the best performance and the boat looks good. You should spend time waxing the exterior applying fresh gel coating, as this will protect the fibreglass from saltwater and sun while providing an aesthetic boat for you to be proud of.
Any fabrics or canvases you use for waterproof protection should be washed and treated to prevent fading, along with an inspection of all sails.
Inspecting all fluid sections such as oil filters and engine oils should become a regular part of this annual service. You should clean fuel filters once a year, ideally more often if you are using the boat frequently.
Emptying the water tanks is another thing you should be doing, ensuring no mildew and mould can collect in and around stagnant water. This process may require specialist equipment and cleaning solutions, so make sure you enquire before using anything.
Along with servicing waste treatment systems, you should organise a thorough inspection of the vessel from a professional. This involves checking prop shaft logs, batteries, spark plugs, safety gear and no wasted fuel from the engine.
Schedule A Haul-Out
Making time for a haul-out to repair and repaint the bottom is vital and can make the difference between your next boating trip being cancelled or not.
This can give you a unique chance to check all parts you've neglected, ensuring fluid levels and all moving parts are in good condition, saving repairs costs in the future.
The water seals and propeller shafts can be checked too at this point, giving you peace of mind all is operating as intended.
If you are planning a journey in the immediate future, be sure to check all surfaces for damage and wear and tear.
While you may be able to operate with a crack or tear in one place, it can cause more damage over time and should be noted sooner rather than later.
Pre-Launch Boat Inspections
No matter your boat type, a sailboat to motorboat requires you to ensure that all are inspected properly and regularly.
Waiting until your next service on an annual basis to repair and replace those navigation lights, battery, or various engines problems will cost you much more in the long run.
Keeping track of oil changes, electrical connections and replacing broken parts on deck when spotted will make the service much cheaper and less painful to endure. If you have access to a trailer or vehicles to tow your boat onto land where you can inspect further, you should be doing so regularly.
What is checked during a Boat Inspection?
Understanding what is checked during a boat inspection is essential and can help you prepare ahead of time. While there will be differences between what requires checking urgently for a boat docked on a lake versus the sea, similarities will arise regardless.
Typically, a boat inspection checklist involves the following:
Inspecting the hull and bilge for cracks or leaks
Check nuts, pins, shafts, propeller and outdrive
All hoses and lines replaced when worn or broken
Tighten and clean all corroded or loose electrical connections
Condition of fuel, cooling and electrical systems, replacing air and fuel filters where required
Check oil levels and engine oil
Battery health and lifespan
All gauges and alternator operations
Use navigation lights to ensure optimum functionality
We all wish never to use safety gear or a first aid kit, but there will be moments where you will be glad to have them.
Realising that your life jackets or safety gear is damaged in those emergency moments is not ideal, and you should be checking onboard for signs of damage and replacement where needed.
You should have (as a bare minimum) a fire extinguisher, a life jacket for every person on board, and air horns or bells must be checked to be in good condition. Stocking the first aid kit with bandages, ice packs, gloves, dressings, plasters and burn relief will help in the long run and shouldn't be overlooked.
The full list of safety equipment you require onboard goes as follows:
First Aid Supplies
Rescue Throw Bag
4N1 Safety Kit
Sound Signalling Devices
Marine Blast Whistle
Additional extras can be brought onto the boat, of course, where space is available. The list will be longer for larger boats and vessels or where increased foot traffic is present, but this is up to the individual.