The warm weather is finally starting to make an appearance, and so are thousands of professional and amateur boating enthusiasts across the country. Here Richard Call, UK Marine Sales Manager at Xylem, offers some top tips for ensuring your vessel is ship-shape for the summer season.
Boats leaving winter storage, even those that are less than a year old, are not always immediately seaworthy. Damp, mildew, and wear caused by wet or freezing conditions can take their toll on a boat’s water, fuel and electrical systems, all of which must be functioning properly in order for the boat to sail safely.
With this in mind, it is recommended to conduct a thorough check of certain parts of these systems before using the boat. Most of these can be checked with relative ease by even the most inexperienced of boaters. However, you must always consult a professional in situations where insufficient knowledge could cause further damage to the boat, or injury.
Top of the list of things to check, before use, include the toilets, clean water and the filtration system, as well as the bilge and impeller pumps. The advice is to:
Change the rubber valves and seals in the toilet’s pump on an annual basis. Kits are available from the chandlery.
Empty and flush out the water tank, then check that all of the connections are tight and there are no leaks. Finally, run the pumps to re-pressurise the system and test the taps and showers to ensure that water is flowing properly.
Replace the carbon-based water filter every year.
Test the bilge, or submersible, pump by using the test button, or by placing water in the bilge and running the pump.
Replace the rubber impeller in the engine cooling pump.
With regards to the battery, which powers all of these systems, always consult a professional which is the safest course of action for any part of the electrical system.
Commenting on the need for thorough maintenance checks of these systems, Richard said: “Boating is becoming an increasingly popular pastime in the UK, but with no legal requirement for licensing or instruction, it’s tempting to set sail at the first sign of sunshine without first understanding how the boat works, and whether it works properly.
“Repairs are a lot harder to do once out on the water, so owners must ensure that their boat is in a good working condition before taking it out to sea. The water systems and pumps are a good place to start because they are quite straightforward to check, maintain and replace.
Richard continues: “Remember that lifeboats and the coastguard exist to save lives. They will always come if needed, but don’t treat them as a taxi or breakdown service for unseaworthy boats. .”
Familiarising yourself with the general upkeep of your boat and taking professional advice when needed are the best ways to prevent problems from occurring out on the water. Once you have done this, you can make the most of the summer season.