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Boat Safety - Pre season checks
  1. Your batteries. They've now sat in a damp enviroment either over charging at the slip or not charging at all in the driveway. Make sure the batteries have plenty of water and acid in them. Use that hydrometer to check specific gravity. If your batteries are over three years old- I'd replace them. If less than three years old and have lost water over the months, inspect the lead plates to make sure they're healthy too. While servicing your electrical supply, wear your safety glasses and protective gear to avoid serious acid burns. Make sure all of your connections are corrossion free and tight.
  2. Your fuel system. Replace those filters, start those engines and warm them up for a half hour or so. Check the filters to make sure there's no water in them from condensation, leaky O-rings on your fuel caps or from the caps being inadvertently left off or loose. While you're at it, inspect all of your fuel hoses which includes the return lines on diesels and fill hoses(the ones no one ever checks). Make sure there's no cracking and that they're plyable. Any crunchy noises indicates immediate replacement.
  3. Your bilge pumps. Make sure they're working, connections are corrossion free and sealed. Check those float switches for operation and cleanliness. Lotsa float switches out there get sticky from residual oil in the bilge or swell from any fuel which may have entered the bilge for whatever reasons.
  4. Exhaust hoses. Same rule applies to rubber exhaust hoses as applies to fuel system hoses. Any crunchy sounds and replace them. Be ready for a wrestle fest, but, if one of these babies goes, well... you may end up with more water on the inside of your hull than is outside of it.
  5. Flash suppressors. Make sure they're secure and the gasket is installed!!!!! Nothing like a backfire in a fuel vapor rich environment!!! You may find yourself at altitude with the sea gulls if this isn't working properly and loose.
  6. Electrical system. Check all fuses, connections and wire runs. Make sure there's no shorts or grounds around tight corners, all wires are their origional colors(no dark brown/black spots-indicates hot spots). Check those main harness plugs. No corroded pins and are greased with an approved electrical grease. Spark plug wires are in good shape as well as those distributor caps(they crack just from sitting after a season of use). Take a spare cap/rotor and coil with you(vacuum packed if possible). Remove all of your spark plugs and inspect their health as well.
  7. Transmissions and outdrives. Check and change that oil. Inspect all tranny hoses for secure fittings and pliable hoses. Make sure those trannies shift smoothly and the neutral safety switches function properly.
  8. Engines. Change that oil! It's been sitting and has collected moisture. Check your belts and put on spares. Look at your power steering fluid, inspect the fittings and hoses as well as all cooling hoses. If freshwater cooled, make sure your coolant is appropriately mixed. Saltwater cooled, check the thermostats and the riser/manifolds for integrity. Alternator fittings, bolts grounds and charging is good.
That's a quick start, but will prevent most conditions at sea which result in a tow. Spending a little time on these items doesn't guarantee a trouble free day on the water, but it sure raises your percentages of success tenfold by doing so.

Remember to use all "marine" approved parts. If you don't, remember you may end up in a catastophic situation at worst. At best it means inferior parts which you'll have to replace more often, which equates to more money out of pocket, than bellying up the first time.


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