Invariably, our clients haul or launch their yachts or otherwise prep them for use or layup. A significant percentage ask us for tips, and we have accumulated some ideas over the years to pass along.
SPLASHING YOUR YACHT
Before the Launch
Inspect the Bottom – Rule number one: Whilst working on the hull, always have yard employees move stands and chains, straps, and blocking. Do a thorough inspection of all the through-hull fittings above and below the waterline and ensure all through-hulls are clear. Make sure you exercise them regularly, so they operate smoothly throughout their full range. Make sure soft wood plugs are tied to the fitting for emergency use.
Zincs – Sacrificial zinc anodes attached to the hull and underwater parts should be removed prior to painting. Prepare metal surfaces or attachment points until clean and bright before you replace the zincs.
Transducers and Running Gear – Underwater transducers for depth sounders, fish finders and knot meters should be carefully inspected. The same for propellers and shafts. Spin the shaft and check for damage and straightness. Inspect swim step supports, trim tabs, thruster grates and boarding ladders.
Rudders and Steering – Check the rudders for smooth operation from stop to stop. Inspect support struts. Check shaft and rudder bearings for wear. Check outdrive/Saildrive flexible bellows mounted between the drive unit and the transom for age-related or other deterioration. Inspect them carefully! Failed bellows are a major cause of sinking. Inspect lower units for oil leaks and change the oil. Don’t forget the plug! If the exhaust ports were plugged to keep critters out, remove the plugs. If the hull has a garboard or other drain plug, be sure it’s in place and tightened securely before launch.
Inside the Boat
Hull Fittings and Steering – Ensure all seacocks operate smoothly. Inspect every strainer. Pull the removeable knot meter paddle and give it a spin while watching the gauge to ensure it works. Operate the steering gear from stop to stop. Inspect all hydraulic and/or mechanical components.
Clamps and Hoses – Inspect hoses attached to all pumps, seacocks, and through-hulls. Replace soft, bulging, hardened, cracked, or damaged hoses. Enure hose clamps are in good shape and free of rust. Double clamps on all hoses are encouraged.
Bilge Pumps and High-water Alarms – When inspecting the bilges from stem to stern, lift every float switch to confirm your bilge pumps and high-water alarms operate properly.
Engine systems and Batteries – Check and replace zincs and impellers in engine and generator cooling systems. Check every drive belts. Mufflers and exhaust systems should be inspected for leaks or deterioration and corrosion-free condition of double hose clamps. Clean battery terminals, install terminal post covers. Ensure batteries are fully charged and are securely fixed in place, preferably in a covered battery box.
During the Launch
Monitor your boat – Boatyards are busy places. Yard staff may not check for leaks after the splash. You, or someone who knows your boat, should immediately board her after she is launched.
Engine and Bilge – As soon as the boat is in the water, go below and check for leaks. Ensure the engine seawater intake seacock is fully opened. With the engine running, check for exhaust water flow. Watch the temperature gauge to make sure the engine’s cooling system is working.
For Sailboats – If your sailboat’s mast was un-stepped, most yards will step it when the boat is in the water. Be sure all turnbuckles are secured with cotter pins after the rig has been tuned.
When your boat is on her mooring or in her slip, spend some time checking everything before you depart on your first cruise. Start on the foredeck and work your way aft before going below.
Anchors and Mooring Lines – Ensure the anchor and rode are secured properly and ready to use. If there’s a windlass, make sure it works properly. Look over mooring lines and fenders, and the mooring bridle if the boat is kept on a mooring.
Deck Chores – Ensure pulpits, wire lifelines, stanchions and ladders are secure and in good repair. Ensure the running and anchor lights work. Set up deck canvas and check for leaks. Secure windows, portlights and hatches and give the boat a thorough washing. As soon as you’re done, go below and look for leaks.
Check Your Shore Power – Before you plug into shore power, inspect both ends of the cord and the onboard connection point for signs of heat damage.
Electrical and Mechanical – Start engines and generators and warm them up thoroughly. Check battery voltage; a 12-volt system charges at about 14 volts. Inspect fuel, cooling and exhaust systems for leaks.
Water Tanks and Water Heater – If the domestic water and waste systems were winterized, drain and flush. Reconnect disconnected fittings. Check the LPG/CNG system. Turn on the gas and light the burners on the appliance. Then close and close to test the various supply and burner valves to ensure they function properly. Check for leaks.
Check your owners’ manual for other maintenance items.
The content herein is provided as general information and is not intended to act as, amend, replace, alter or modify advice given by a marine surveyor or loss control specialist. As a prudent insurance buyer, you should consult your agent, broker, or other insurance professional with questions about your insurance needs