Dock Lines

Winter maintenance projects

SAN DIEGO — Now that the holidays are over and cooler temperatures have arrived, it’s the perfect time to prepare for the coming boating season and attend to needed maintenance projects.

Recently I chatted with San Diego and Newport Beach-based South Coast Yachts’ service director, Greg Coleman, and was so impressed with his approach towards winterizing I wanted to share his maintenance recommendations with readers.

Coleman, who came to SoCal from Rhode Island, where winterizing boats is essential for surviving harsh winters, also oversees the firm’s yacht maintenance services for both sail and powerboats.

“Build into your winterizing an automatic review of all your systems,” he suggested. Whether you do your own maintenance or hire professionals, be sure to use a comprehensive checklist so that none of your systems are missed. You can develop your own from checklists available online or ask your yacht maintenance service.

Specific to sailboats, he advises having a complete rigging inspection, sending someone up the mast in a bosun’s chair to inspect and lubricate all moving parts and replace any parts showing wear, as well as check the anchor light and wind instruments.

If you use little fuel and don’t run your engine much, your fuel may be old and cause problems with the engine. Coleman recommends adding a fuel stabilizer to your tank. Use the manufacturer’s recommended additive ratio.

“Run the engine once the stabilizer is in there to get it into the lines, engine and fuel pump. Engines like to be used,” he explained. Start and run them regularly, even if you’re not taking your boat out.

To prevent future problems, he recommended replacing the raw water impeller annually, an easy and inexpensive fix.

Don’t forget to check and exercise all your seacocks and thru-hulls.

“If they’re starting to show signs of green from corrosion, clean them and spray them with a corrosion inhibitor,” he added.

With the lower temperatures boaters often want to use the heating cycle on their air conditioning systems. But, since the temperate SoCal weather usually doesn’t require use of air conditioning, air filters and raw water strainers can get clogged without owners’ noticing, causing the system to malfunction. Coleman advises removing filters and strainers and cleaning them under running water, which can prevent expensive repairs.

Did you know most boat fires are electrical in origin? Winter is a great time to have a professional marine electrician go over your electrical system to make sure your wiring is still supple and not brittle, your connectors are fully functional and your electrical system meets your needs. Before adding more electronics, including flat-panel displays, telecommunications, entertainment and computerized systems, make sure you’re not overloading your circuits.

My favorite of Coleman’s recommendations: Take advantage of the slower winter months to read the manuals for your boat’s many systems and make sure you understand what they can do and how to use and maintain them. Most boat owners don’t understand the full complexity and capability of all their boat’s systems and advanced equipment or how to repair or reset their operations if they fail.

Take the time, Coleman recommended, to download the manuals for every system and individual component on your boat. Because you may not have internet access when you need to use the manual, save your manuals to a thumb drive or other external memory or even, in case of lost electrical power, print them so you have access to a hard copy in case of emergency.

With attention to essential maintenance projects over the winter, you can rest easy knowing you’ve prepared your boat for a successful and happy 2018 boating year.

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