BOATERS on the South Coast are pulling the covers off their cabin cruisers, yachts, runabouts and tinnies. Alec Percival (Unit Commander) of Bermagui Marine Rescue warns that most boat problems emerge at the start of the season. If your boat has not been used for a while it will not be at a suitable standard of readiness.
It can take as little as three months for fuel to become contaminated – so if you haven’t used your boat since last summer it will definitely be off. Electrical connections can corrode and the battery will probably be flat.
Minor maintenance problems can lead to major problems at sea, increasing the risk of danger and spoiling what should be a great day out.
Remember the skipper is responsible for the upkeep of the vessel and the safety of all on board.
Two thirds of all breakdowns are caused by problems that could have been avoided through regular maintenance and proper preparation.
If you ‘do it yourself’ use the manual. Start with the engine, changing the oil and filter. If the oil is milky it means that water has found its’ way in and immediate attention is needed. Your tank should be emptied and refilled with fresh new fuel. The gear oil should be changed. Flush the cooling system and check all the fuel lines and battery. Test the electronics, including the radio, which is one of your most important pieces of safety gear.
Most importantly, check all your safety equipment. Are your lifejackets due for servicing? Check flares and EPIRBS, replace torch batteries. Don’t forget your trailer. As wheel bearings are constantly in salt water they can be a constant source of problems.
If you don’t want to do this yourself, call the professionals. The Boating Industry Association 50 point Safety Check means your boat is serviced by a qualified member of the Marine Industry Mechanical Repairers Association.