Check and Double Check

Posted: August 1, 2012

Don’t let 9 potential failures with easy fixes catch you by surprise.

By: John Beatty

You’ve been cruising hard for a couple of months now, and like it or not, the season is past the halfway point for most boaters. But that doesn’t mean you can’t get another month (or two) of on-water action. As you extend your boating time, don’t forget these nine items that should be checked and double-checked, because you don’t want to find out they’re faulty in the middle of your remote vacation cruise.

1. The zincs didn’t really need to be changed at spring haulout. Now you’re anchored at a remote location where the water is crystal clear and the sun angle is just right, and you see the prop-shaft zinc is gone. Finding a diver in a medium-sized marina is always possible, but a trip back to civilization was not on the itinerary. Check the security as well as the wear when inspecting zincs.

2. You never open the sliding window in the salon until it gets really hot. Now it seems to be stuck. Applying muscle to glass is a tricky operation. It may be so bad you need help from a yacht glass guy, and they are few and far between. Add this to next spring’s checklist.

3. The water in the tank tasted fine until you filled it at that rustic little marina (in a land far away). Some marinas have good water, some don’t. Cruisers with prior experience in the area will know. Plan to stay overnight or make a fuel stop in a marina with good water — and fill the tanks before you run low.

4. You never use the second head unless you have guests. Well, you have guests now, and the head doesn’t work. Fun times in the holding-tank bilge are best had in your homeport with no one else on board. If you carry spare parts for the head ... you may never have to use them. If you do not use something often, check it regularly.

5. You forgot to recheck the water level in the house batteries, and they have been getting a workout. The plates are almost uncovered, which reduces the battery’s capacity. If the plate surface dries enough to harden, that area is no longer part of the battery’s capacity. Adding distilled water after plates have dried will not bring the capacity back.

6. The Coast Guard has boarded your boat. The zipper on the emergency four pack of PFDs (which you never open) is corroded and frozen. If the PFDs are deemed inaccessible, you will not pass this inspection. Another preseason check to add to the list.

7. Why won’t the anchor go down? After your first bumpy passage, all that pitching rolled the anchor chain into a ball. Stuffing extra fenders in the chain locker might help avoid this issue. One boater I know fills the empty space above his chain by inflating a large innertube in the locker.

8. The genset was turning over slowly when you last started it. Now its battery is flat. This is going to cost you. If you could find a set of jumper cables, you could use the main engine start battery to start the genset and get everything recharged.

9. You reached the top of Vancouver Island under clear skies, but now it’s raining and the port-side wiper is not working. It could be a loose nut or something harder to fix. You might want to check the wipers before each trip. Rain-X anyone?

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