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In December, there is plenty of time to think about what needs to be maintained on your boat before next spring. Preventative checks keep you safe and ready to roll. Different boats need various forms of service, but the following applies to all boat types.


  • Clean the hull, deck, and surfaces with mild soap and water
  • Clear all drains and scuppers
  • Put on a good coat of wax
  • Use metal polish on metal surfaces
  • Scrub teak and oil
  • Wash windows and hatches
  • Remove dirt and debris from the canvas and bimini
  • Clean the interior including bilges
  • Check spare parts, tools, and wiper blades

The hull:

  • Check for damage, paint or gel coat blisters, and repair
  • Examine and replace zincs
  • Check the swim platform and ladder
  • Inspect trim tabs and rub rails
  • Check the shaft, strut, and propeller
  • Examine the rudder and fittings

Deck and safety equipment:

  • Check the ropes and fenders
  • Examine chains, plates, and cleats
  • Check the deck and window seals for leaks
  • Inspect the anchor
  • Clean and grease winches
  • Lubricate blocks
  • Check the life raft, dinghy, and personal flotations devices

Required and recommended equipment:

  • Test signaling devices and expiration dates
  • Inspect life rings and cushions
  • Replace or recharge fire extinguishers
  • Examine and adjust the compass
  • Check navigation lights
  • Replace charts if necessary
  • Update your boater registration
  • Check the radar reflector
  • Inventory and replace first aid supplies
  • Inspect the bailer and hand pump

Maintaining your boat in the winter will help get it back on the water on the first comfortable spring day. Taking great care of your boat year round will also prevent more costly repairs in the long run and avoid surprises that interrupt your summer fun.


Source: Preparing Your Boat for the Season, Pre-Season Checklist, http://boatsafe.com/nauticalknowhow/spring99.htm

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