How To

Avoid 10 Common Boating Mistakes

Get out of the warehouse, cover the trolley or foil, wait for the engine, spring cleaning, maybe a few fresh lacquer coatings on the wood, some wax, and polish for the dull gel coat – ready for the first exit after the winter. But was not there anything else? Should not one deeply breathe deeply again and make a few neuralgic points, which are easily overlooked or forgotten during the entrance and the emigration, but which concerns the security of their swimming Untersatz?

1) Insulted bilge pump

Even if your boat has landed well over the winter, or even in a hall, this is by no means a guarantee for a dry bilge. A hidden, small leak or condensation is all it takes. And if this water still freezes, damaging the pump or the float switches, there is an unwanted voltage. In 99 percent of cases, this is perhaps harmless, but the one percent is then fatal. So: Before installing, check the function of the pump and switch on the dashboard as well as the emergency switches in the bilge. Magnetic switches or those with water sensors are somewhat more difficult to test. But this is how it goes: Fill a large plastic bag with water, the upper edge of which you push over the switch. Then lift the bag until the switch is completely in the water. They may be a bit wet, but you will also find out if everything works as desired. This could be life insurance in case of an emergency. You can read our article on how to install a bilge pump in a boat.

2) Weak sea valves and hoses

Again, ice can have problematic effects, especially when it was fogged and old hoses were replaced by wrong types. Especially under the water line, this is highly risky. A visual inspection of the hoses and sea valves is not sufficient, but you should pull the hose and also twist the hose while checking the connection to the sea valve and the hose clamp for a tight fit. It shows whether the hose material has become brittle and whether there is damage from ice. Also, note the anti-siphon loops in the drain hoses that go above the level of the water line to prevent water from moving back into the bilge. In these loops, residual water can freeze over winter and damage the hose.

3) Irregular FM radio

Defects Microphones, wobbly contacts, and other faulty devices can haul the FM radio over winter, even if it has been stored well protected. However, if you take the check only at the first exit, you will not be able to detect any defects until you are out on the water. Therefore, check the radio before you place it for the first time. If it is still cold (below 10 degrees C), pay attention to the antenna holder. If it is made of plastic, it is brittle in cold weather and can break by violent whipping movements. Better still: Replace plastic brackets with stainless steel brackets. And do not forget your hand. Also, the will be tested, be it also only on the charge state of the batteries.
Modern FM radios are equipped with Digital Selective Calling (DSC), but often they are not either connected to a GPS or are not properly registered with an MMSI number. Pressing the red emergency call button causes exactly: nothing at all. So make sure to request an MMSI number and network the radio with a GPS so that an emergency call also contains the vital position data.

4) Welded gearbox

There is hardly anything stupid to be left with engine damage at the beginning of the season, for example, when water was damaged by the transmission of your outboard in the winter, and it was not detected or repaired before the water was drained. Even small amounts of water can cause frost damage, for example, due to cracks in the metal and damaged seals. Therefore: Prevention is better than repairing – and above all cheaper. The lower part of the shaft should be checked for clean fat. It is also advisable to examine the soil under the fin for fluid leaks. If there are fresh stains, look for the mechanic immediately. If on the other hand, you are habitually replacing the lubrication already in the autumn before the winter, you can see at an early stage whether water is in the grease.

5) Water in the tank

Recommend to overpower with a full tank to prevent condensation and associated problems due to water in the fuel and the painful phase separation of ethanol. Even the treatment of the fuel with a stabilizer is not a guarantee against condensation. Therefore, empty the fuel-water separator to ensure that there is no water in the tank. Check the separator during and after the first exit again and empty it if necessary. Get used to making this at least once during the season. Unscrew the container completely and completely, because these things like to rust.
If your boat runs with diesel, remove a small amount from the tank as far as possible, fill the fuel into a clear plastic bottle and leave it for a few hours. The diesel should be clear. If it is not, it contains water and algae. In this case, you must take care of the multiple filtrations of the fuel, which removes the impurities from the tank. This also works with gasoline, but once the phase separation with ethanol has been used, the octane number decreases, which increases the risk that its canoe outboard motor is damaged.

6) Brittle bellows

The bellows of a Z-drive is notorious for leaks, and this has good reasons because rubber becomes brittle due to sun and aging. This process can also take place over the winter, meaning a bellow, which was still okay in autumn, can be brittle in the spring, especially if it had to remain in the same position all winter. Therefore they examine the folds before, during and after the lowering of the drive for visible breaks. Keep an eye out for mussels and other marine growth, the sharp shells of which can cut the delicate rubber. When you’re at it, take a look at the exhaust and the bend protection of the cables. Avoid the treatment of the bladder with aggressive cleaning agents, which promote the aging, because they attack the rubber and lead to increased UV sensitivity. No matter what you do or do, at the first water, take a close look at the engine cover to make sure there is no water in the engine room.

7) Drainage without river

Leaves, branches, and other soiling can cause blockages, but you also forget to mention insects like wasps, which build their nests in dark tubes. When this happens, a clogging is almost guaranteed and can have far-reaching, even fatal consequences, when it affects tailpipes in the cockpit and deck drains. A visual inspection is not enough. Pimp it with a curved hanger, or blow it with a high-pressure cleaner to make sure that water can drain as intended. The same also applies to the bait fishing tank, so it gives on board, and all drains from the storage rooms.

8) Off-line ammunition

It is quite obvious, but one is fond of forgetting to check the expiration date of the ammunition and the level of the fire extinguisher. For this, the police are happy to distribute tickets, which is only the lesser evil, compared to an emergency situation, which is exposed without functioning signaling or extinguishing agents. The expiration date for a signal munition is 42 months after manufacture, not after purchase. Therefore pay attention to it at the time of purchase, and at the same time program an alarm into the telephone when it is time to wait or replace this vital part of the safety equipment on board.

9) Opaque plastic windows

Milky-blunt windows are often due to their fault. This is not only avoidable but also a safety question, if the windshield does not provide a clarification for the rudder. In the spring, windows, hatches, and windows made of acrylic, polycarbonate and other plastics require thorough cleaning. But leave the fingers of sharp, saline-containing glass cleaners, which are completely unsuitable, because of plastic windows of it yellow and become milky. Poor visibility at the helm itself will not sink the boat, but in harsh circumstances, hitting a hard obstacle such as driftwood, semi-sunken containers, or steel buoys can lead to collisions, which in turn can holler the fuselage. 

10) Slippery cleanliness

Good, the even glossy appearance of the boat after the spring cleaning is for many the experience of the first exit. It is often overlooked that wax, cleaning and polishing agents, which revive gel coat to a new luster, can almost turn the deck into a sliding party. It cannot be treated with such means, in order not to jeopardize the safe footing of the crew and guests onboard. There are special products that clean and seal surfaces without making them slippery. Metal surfaces should be rubbed with lemon juice, which is dripped on a sponge or cloth, then treated with a normal boat soap. This shines everything, and you can safely move on the deck. You should know how to clean your boat properly.

These ten tips are, of course, not the end of the story, but just a good start of all the smaller and larger things that can go wrong or overlook during spring cleaning, with possible unwanted side effects later. Batteries charge cable connections check, engine service etc. are indeed standard points on the to-do list of each skipper. Experienced boat enthusiasts have, of course, their checklist for commissioning in the spring and the season closing in autumn. But it never hurts to refresh this list from time to time. 
Now go, the sun is gaining strength, the days are getting longer and the new season is approaching with giant steps.

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