Spring Commissioning Checklist

To help boaters have a trouble-free summer boating season, Boat/U.S., the nation's largest recreational boating association, has a spring commissioning checklist.  Whether you have a new or used sailboat, inboard or outboard, following this checklist is an easy way to get ready for the boating season.

Before you launch
____ Inspect and lubricate seacocks. Hoses and hose clamps should be inspected and replaced as necessary.

____ Replace deteriorated zincs.

____ Inspect prop(s) for dings, pitting and distortion. Make sure cotter pins are secure. Grip the prop and try moving the shaft – if it’s loose, the cutlass bearing may need to be replaced.

____ Check to make sure the rudderstock hasn’t been bent.

____ Inspect the hull for blisters, distortions and stress cracks.

____ Make sure your engine intake sea strainer is free of corrosion and properly secured.

____ Check the engine shaft and rudder stuffing boxes for looseness. After the boat is launched, be sure to check these as well as through-hulls for leaks.

____ Use a hose to check for deck leaks at ports and hatches. Renew caulk or gaskets as necessary.

____ If equipped, ensure that stern drain plug is installed .

Outboard Engines
____ Inspect rubber outdrive bellows for cracked, dried and/or deteriorated spots (look especially in the folds), and replace if suspect.

____ Check steering and lower unit oil levels. Replace worn-out zincs.

____ Inspect outer jacket of control cables. Cracks or swelling indicate corrosion and mean that the cable has to be replaced.

____ Inspect fuel lines, including fill and vent hoses, for softness, brittleness or cracking. Check all joints for leaks and make sure all lines are well supported with non-combustible clips or straps with smooth edges.

Engines and fuel systems
____ Inspect fuel tanks, fuel pumps and filters for leaks. Clamps should be snug and free of rust. Clean fuel filters.

____ Inspect cooling hoses and fittings for stiffness, rot, leaks and/or cracking. Make sure they fit snugly and are double-clamped.

____ Every few years, remove and inspect exhaust manifold for corrosion.

____ Clean and tighten electrical connections, especially both ends of battery cables. Wire-brush battery terminals and fill cells with distilled water.

____ Inspect bilge blower hose for leaks.

Sailboat rigging
____ Inspect fittings for cracks and rust. Inspect wire halyards and running backstays for “fishhooks” and rust.

____ Remove tape on turnbuckles and lubricate threads, preferably with Teflon. Replace old tape with fresh tape.

____ Re-caulk through-deck chainplates as necessary (generally, once a decade).

____ Inspect tire treads and sidewalls for cracks or lack of tread and replace as necessary. Check air pressure. Don’t forget the spare!

____ Inspect bearings and repack as necessary.

____ Test tail and back-up lights. Test winch to make sure it’s working properly.

____ Inspect trailer frame for rust. Sand and paint to prevent further deterioration.

____ Check expiration dates on flares and fire extinguishers.

____ Check stove and remote tanks for loose fittings and leaking hoses.

____ Inspect bilge pump and float switch to make sure it’s working properly.

____ Inspect dock and anchor lines for chafing.

____ Update or replace old charts, waterway guides.

____ Check shore power cable connections for burns, which indicates the cable needs to be replaced.

____ Make sure your boating license and/or registration is up to date. Don’t forget your trailer tags.

____ Review your boat insurance policy and update coverage if needed. Be sure you have fuel spill insurance coverage.

____ Make sure you have a properly sized and wearable life jacket in good condition for each passenger, including kids and pets.

This checklist and others are available online at Boat/U.S. Freebies.