Skip to main content

BoatWorks: Early-Spring Checklist

If your boat has been laid up for the winter, you’ll be dying to get back aboard and start getting it ready for the new season. The sooner you begin on the essentials, the more wiggle room you’ll have when the inevitable last-minute jobs crop up close to launch time. It might be too cold to paint, varnish, or use epoxy before April, but here are five things you should be able to take care of now.
  • Author:
  • Updated:
    Original:

If your boat has been laid up for the winter, you’ll be dying to get back aboard and start getting it ready for the new season. The sooner you begin on the essentials, the more wiggle room you’ll have when the inevitable last-minute jobs crop up close to launch time. It might be too cold to paint, varnish, or use epoxy before April, but here are five things you should be able to take care of now.

  1. If your batteries were fully charged and topped up with electrolyte before you laid up the boat, they should be good to go after a gentle trickle charge. If not, now is the time to find out. Last week, on my first visit to the boat since December, I found one battery in perfect condition; the other, to which the bilgepump was hard-wired, was completely dead and beyond resuscitation. I’d neglected to plug in the float-charger, and the discharged battery’s electrolyte had frozen on the many nights when the temperature plunged to below 15 degrees. If you removed the terminals from the battery posts, clean them up with fine-grit sandpaper until they’re bright on the contact surfaces, then replace them.
  2. If you replaced your running rigging with messengers when you laid the boat up, pat yourself on the back. Your halyards and sheets will be much more pleasant to use than if they’d sat in the elements all winter. Now’s a good time to put them back. They won’t come to any harm even if it rains and snows for another month.
  3. Varnish your cabin sole. If you have access to a heated basement or garage, take your dull, scuffed floorboards home, rub them down, and apply the potion of your choice. You’ll be glad you did.
  4. It’s a good time to give the plumbing system a going-over. Trapped water may have frozen and split a pipe; hose clamps may have rusted to the point where they’re about to disintegrate. Follow all the tubing runs and give every hose clamp a tweak with a screwdriver.
  5. If you didn’t change the engine coolant at laying-up time, now is a good time to do it. The stuff loses its efficiency over time and needs to be changed nearly as often as your oil. While you’re messing about in the engine compartment, you may as well check the hoses and exhaust system and the alternator drive belt. If it’s frayed or shows signs of splitting or cracking, replace it now.

There’s much more you could do, but getting these basic jobs out of the way will go a long way toward making sure you get the most out of the new boating season.

Click here for more BoatWorks stories.

Posted: March 14, 2008

Related

00-LEAD-210918_11HR_AZIMUT48HRS_AMO_00411

11th Hour Racing Team's Green Mission

“I’ll admit, it’s still hard to watch the boat leave the dock sometimes,” says former Volvo Ocean Race sailor Mark Towill. Since meeting during a Transpac campaign over 15 years ago, he and his teammate Charlie Enright have sailed thousands of miles together aboard two Volvo ...read more

D61_JKELAGOPIAN-3

Boat Review: Dufour 61

Dufour, long one of France’s most well-respected builders, has been producing sailboats in La Rochelle since the dawn of fiberglass boatbuilding. Having recently merged with another La Rochelle-based builder, Fountaine Pajot, Dufour has now joined other European mass-production ...read more

m138123_14_00_210609_TORE02_SE_2152_2504-2048x

The Ocean Race to be “Climate Positive”

The 2023 Ocean Race intends to be one of the world’s first climate positive sporting events, offsetting more greenhouse gasses than are produced. The two-fold effort means cutting emissions by 75 percent and investing in ocean projects that sequester carbon and restore ocean ...read more

01-LEAD-Ancients-3-2048x

Cruising Lake Superior

Almost anywhere a sailor drops the hook someone else has been there before. We are hardly ever the first. That remote Maine harbor without a soul in sight: there’s a lobster trap. The south coast of Newfoundland: the crumbling remains of a fisherman’s cabin lie hidden among the ...read more

01-LEAD-Tablet-Holder-4

Fabricating a Tablet Holder

During the pandemic, I was stuck aboard Guiding Light, a Lagoon 410, in St. Lucia for over a month. During that time, as I worked on the boat, I started by doing a spring cleaning in my spares locker and finding some parts and material that I forgot I had. As soon as I saw them, ...read more

00-LEAD-AdobeStock_486335954

A Catamaran for a New Era

Anacortes, Washington, is an unassuming sea-salty town near the San Juan Islands of Puget Sound, and the Betts Boats yard is easy for a passerby to miss. But within Betts’ facilities, the dawn of an era in Pacific Northwest production boatbuilding could be breaking with the ...read more

X5_plus_slide-01

Boat Review: Xquisite X5 Plus

The Xquisite X5 Plus is a major update of the boat that SAIL awarded Best Large Multihull and Best Systems titles in 2017. The changes were not just cosmetic, but genuine improvements to an already fine boat, making it lighter, faster and less dependent on fuel. The builder’s ...read more

01-LEAD-AdobeStock_40632434

Cruising: Offshore Prep Talk

When I began preparing Minx, my 1987 Pearson 39-2, for extended Caribbean cruising, I had to balance my champagne wish list against my beer budget. Every buck spent on the boat before leaving would be one less frosty can of Carib down in the islands. On the other hand, I had to ...read more