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"GET YOUR BOAT READY" - Checklist

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As the season shifts from blustery, cold mode and you find yourself peeling back the layers of fleece to soak in the midday sun, it may well be time, to get ‘BOAT READY’ and break out of winter hibernation.

To get you thinking of the prep needed for fun boating days ahead, here are a few items that may make the job a little easier.

"GET YOUR BOAT READY" Checklist (applicable to most boats).

Safety Equipment

State laws require that boats carry specific items of safety equipment, which varies depending on the size and type of craft. Be sure to know the requirements for your own boat and keep upbeats any changes to regulations, on your local maritime safety authority website. Equipment can include PFDs or lifejackets, flares, Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacons (EPIRBs) and fire extinguishers. You need to look for any signs of deterioration or corrosion and check expiry dates on the flares and extinguisher, as well as the EPIRB battery. NOTE: If you have a Dry Chemical Powder extinguisher (red with a white stripe), give it a good shake to free any powder that may have settled over the winter.

Check you have the mandatory equipment according your states Maritime Authority regulations.

A guide for each state authority available here AUSTRALIAN BOATING GUIDES.

Check these boating essentials

  • fire extinguishers and emergency flares: use-by dates
  • batteries: check condition and readiness
  • fuel filters and other components need to be monitored. It is a good policy to replace fuel filters prior to commencing a new boating season. With prolonged times out of action, moisture can build up in the fuel tank, contaminating the fuel. 
  • Life jackets/PFDs: Check to ensure you have enough life jackets or personal flotation devices for the capacity of your boat and that all are in good condition. Make sure that mildew or mould has not taken hold during the lay- off period.

Note: Inflatable jackets should be serviced every year to make sure the gas system will function when you need it. Also, you can check the inflation bladder by blowing it up with the mouthpiece and looking for bubbles while immersed in a sink or tub.

Other Mandatory Equipment

  • Torch on board, with batteries in good condition
  • First aid kit to make sure itʼs complete, well-sealed and that its contents comply with their use-by dates.
  • Whistle / Bell / Airhorn
  • Paddles or oars and rowlocks
  • Bailer bucket with lanyard 

Tenders, Canoes and Kayaks

  • Any leaks or suspicious seepage run lines in aluminium tenders?  Be vigilant and attend to repairs to polyethylene and ABS canoes and kayaks, wooden boats, and household and sporting equipment.

Outboard engines

  • If you have, a less than ideal, storage situation, it would pay to check for small nests and unwanted debris. Make sure the wiring, breather valves and vents havenʼt been compromised.
  • Connections: ensure they are firm and that there are no signs of corrosion or leakage.
  • Trim controls: check all working smoothly
  • Start her up: set the engine up in a suitable water filled bin/container and run briefly to ensure fuel and electrical systems are working properly and that your batteries are fully charged. While your engine is running, check for a steady stream from the water pump tell-tale. You might find the flow interrupted from debris clogging the outlet or from impeller blades that may have seized during storage. You can clean the inlet with a fine piece of wire or a paper clip to unclog any blockage. Replace the impeller, if necessary. Generally speaking, many outboard engine service centres offer winter specials, so it is worthwhile calling around to see whatʼs on offer. Inboards or sterndrive engine compartments
  • Compartment checks: Any puddles of fuel or oil in the bilge or lower compartments? Look for any sign of fuel leakage. If there is any evidence of fuel leakage, do not attempt to start the engine and consult your local marine service experts immediately.
  • Hose fittings/connections/drive belts: visually check for any signs of deterioration or corrosion, especially on electrical fittings and connections.
  • Oil levels: check and look for signs of contamination, such as milky-white discolouration.
  • Sea strainer: check for any signs of debris.
  • Coolant level: if you have a freshwater-cooled engine
  • If your boat is fitted with a ‘gensetʼ, you should apply all the above checks to it, too. 

Through-the-hull fittings

  • Lift up floorboards and hatches that allow you to go below deck lines and check for signs of corrosion or seepage. Shut-off valves should be worked to ensure proper operation. These fittings are critical and failure can lead to loss of the boat.

Navigation lights

  • Ensure that all navigation and other lights are working. Even if you do not frequent the water before dawn or after sunset, you may be caught out one day. Knowing your line up of switches will be advantageous should other challenges arise.

Boat Canopies and Bimini Covers

  • Do you have sufficient "cover" on you boat?  Boat canopies offer shade and increased comfort to those on board and can also provide some protection from the rain.  Sunburn and dehydration from extended exposure to the Australian sun can ruin your day on the water. Biminis are a valuable addition to your boat, increasing boating enjoyment.  Biminis can also be attached to inflatables and RIBS, with clever mounting solutions by Railblaza. 



 

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