The Captain Rob Cozen
Master Marine Surveyor NewsLetter
March 2000 Archive



So Spring is just around the corner. You find your mind wondering while sitting at your desk. Every new warm breeze transports you to the helm of your boat. You experience an uncontrollable facial twitch every time you pass the marine store. There's still snow on the ground, but you ask your wife if she remembers where she put your shorts. You start singing Jimmy Buffett songs in the shower. You contemplate joining the tanning salon so your white legs won't blind the other boaters on your dock again. You buy your first nautical baseball cap of the year. You start planning your July cruise to the Chesapeake Bay or Catalina Island. Yes, it sure sounds like your ready for 1999 boating season.

Well, there might just be several other minor things to think about before setting out on that first shakedown cruise. So I have again brought back the annual Spring Maintenance Checklist. Download and/or print it, put it on a clipboard and use it as a guideline for getting your vessel ready to rumble. Remember, the most effective (and cheapest) maintenance is preventative maintenance. A comprehensive spring maintenance program could prevent time consuming and expensive repairs in the summer.


Spring Preventative Maintenance Checklist

The following checklist should be used prior to putting your boat into service each year.
Check off each item and use list as maintenance log.

Engine compartment:

_____ 1. Check oil (start season with fresh oil)

_____ 2. Check coolant (verify proper mixture of water-to-coolant)

_____ 3. Check transmission fluid (change as necessary)

_____ 4. Check spark plug wires, distributor caps, water pump impellers, etc.

_____ 5. Check condition of all hoses and hose clamps (replace as soon as any wear appears)

_____ 6. Check all seacocks (lubricate) - replace any gate valves with levered ball valves

_____ 7. Test bilge pumps and float switches - verify pumps are wired directly to batteries and not to switch panel

_____ 8. Have automatic fire extinguisher inspected, serviced and tagged

_____ 9. Check all electric wires and connections (no wire nuts or tape)

_____ 10. Install mounted/covered acid-proof battery boxes

_____ 11. Inspect all tanks (fuel, water, hot water, holding tanks) check for leaks and secure mounting

_____ 12. Test gas vapor detector and/or high water alarms (if installed; if not, consider installation

_____ 13. Run engines and check for vapor and/or water leaks from exhaust manifolds or hoses

_____ 14. Closely inspect rudder posts for leaks

_____ 15. Activate and inspect trim tab pumps for hydraulic fluid leaks

_____ 16. Check engine mounts for signs of movement or cracks around mounting bolts

_____ 17. Verify flame arrestor is clean and properly mounted (gas engine)

_____ 18. Check mufflers for cracks and/or leaks

_____ 19. Replace any open AC outlets with proper hinged weathertight units

_____ 20. Inspect and test hydraulic steering system for leaks and proper fluid pressure

_____ 21. Have certified mechanic inspect/service engines (as necessary)



_____ 1. Clean all surfaces - only wax "no-walk" areas

_____ 2. Examine and repair any spider cracks around stanchion bases, hatches, portholes, companionways and decks

_____ 3. Test all steaming, navigation and anchor lights - replace as necessary

_____ 4. Test horn

_____ 5. Test V.H.F. radio and all navigational electronics

_____ 6. Check date on flares - replace if outdated

_____ 7. Check throttles and gear shifters - lubricate as necessary

_____ 8. Check life jackets - if in bag, check zipper is intact and lubricated

_____ 9. Check condition of throwable life-ring or horseshoe - replace if cracked

_____ 10. Check bridge/helm seats for secure mounting



_____ 1. pressurize all fresh water systems and check for leaks

_____ 2. Inspect all hoses for condition and kinks - check hose clamps

_____ 3. Check bilge and sump pumps/float switches

_____ 4. Check all galley appliances - propane stoves should have electric solenoid control switch

_____ 5. Test all AC/DC lights - replace any burned light bulbs

_____ 6. Test flashlights - install new batteries

_____ 7. Test air conditioning system - check circulating pumps for leaks

_____ 8. Check all seacocks - lubricate as necessary

_____ 9. Check any salon V.H.F. radios or backup electronics

_____ 10. Check portable fire extinguishers - verify all units are properly mounted in safe and accessible locations



_____ 1. Have certified technician inspect bottom for blisters, delamination or spider cracks

_____ 2. Inspect propellers - recondition if necessary

_____ 3. Inspect zincs, shafts, cutlass bearings and throughulls

_____ 4. Apply new bottom paint - remove/rejuvenate every five years



_____ 1. Check for current-dated registration and documentation papers

_____ 2. Verify that all necessary manuals and resource books are on board

_____ 3. Verify that maintenance logs are current

_____ 4. Check inventory of spare parts for engines, pumps, etc.

_____ 5. Check all charts and navigational tools


First Aid/Emergency Gear:

_____ 1. Check first aid kit - replenish as necessary

_____ 2. Refresh all first aid techniques - renew C.P.R. certification

_____ 3. Verify that placards are posted designating location of fire extinguishers, first aid kit and emergency (radio) procedures

_____ 4. Check battery in EPIRB and flashlights

_____ 5. Verify that liferaft inspection tag is current

_____ 6. Verify that entire crew is familiar with use of flares, V.H.F. radio procedures, man-overboard retrieval techniques and all emergency response systems - PRACTICE OFTEN (UNDER REALISTIC CONDITIONS)!!!!


Sailboats (in addition to above points):

_____ 1. Check all halyards and sheets

_____ 2. Have sailmaker inspect and service sails (as necessary)

_____ 3. Lubricate all winches

_____ 4. Inspect cable-to-quadrant steering

_____ 5. Have standing rigging professionally inspected and tuned

_____ 6. Inspect and lubricate mast and boom tracks

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Captain Rob Cozen
Master Marine Surveyor
P.O. Box 220
Somers Point, NJ 08244
Office: (609) 926-4949 - Cell: (609) 335-1500
(Outside South Jersey) (800) 64SURVEY - Toll Free!

copyright 1998, Captain Rob Cozen, all rights reserved.