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:
Publish date:
Updated on

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

TOTW_PromoSite

SAIL's Tip of the Week

Presented by Vetus-Maxwell. Got a tip? Send it to sailmail@sailmagazine.com The double range  Every skipper knows about ranging two objects in line to keep the boat on track in a cross-current. What’s less obvious is monitoring both sides of a gap such as a harbor entrance. ...read more

FamilyCruise

Bareboating on Puget Sound

Depending on where you are, Puget Sound can look no bigger than a mountainous version of the Intracoastal Waterway. That’s what I thought when I first laid eyes on it from the lighthouse at Mukilteo Park on a sunny day last July. Then I went to the top of the iconic Space Needle ...read more

Bali4point1

Boat Review: Bali 4.1

Coming fast on the heels of its predecessor, the Bali 4.0, the Bali 4.1 adds a number of improvements, many of them inspired by feedback from owners and charterers. She’s an evolution of a concept that has already proven popular and very many benefits from its builder’s ...read more

Headsail

Ask Sail: Silencing A Rattling Headsail

Q: Our Pearson 26 has a 110-percent jib that tends to rattle very noisily at the top hank. We only bought the old boat recently, but it must have been happening for a long time, since there’s a deep groove worn inside that bronze hank. The jib has an unusually large and wide ...read more

Alerion2048x

Alerion Yachts 33, the 90 Minute Get Away

Easy to sail, luxurious, and swift; the Alerion 33 is the solution to your busy life. The intuitive, simple rig design, easy set-up, and put-away mean there’s no need to wait for crew to enjoy a weekend, a day, or an hour out sailing. Her beauty and comfort are evident in the ...read more

anchor

Know how: Ground Tackle

Your ground tackle is like a relationship—the more you care for it, the longer it will last. So, how do you enhance the relationship? First up, think of the accommodations—a damp, salt-rich, often warm environment, just the kind of thing to encourage corrosion. What can be done? ...read more

DSC_7522

Boat Review: Beneteau Oceanis 46.1

The Beneteau sailboat line has long represented a kind of continuum, both in terms of the many models the company is offering at any given moment and over time. This does not, however, in any way diminish the quality of its individual boats. Just the opposite. Case in point: the ...read more