Sometimes the most daunting thing about launching your boat in the spring is slogging through the checklist designed to "help" you do it. And no wonder: commissioning efforts for Canadian boaters run the gamut from paying a full-service yard to re-commission every system on board to putting away the one lonely space heater that's been wheezing away on the salon floor since Thanksgiving.
So the boating season has finally arrived and since you have been a diligent owner, all your spring outfitting has been carefully attended to. Everything on that spring check list has been duly checked off and your guests are on their way. The coolers are filled with drinks and snacks and you’re looking forward to great day on the water. However, as experience has taught us, we are at our most vulnerable when our guard is down. Routine can lull us into a false sense of security. Now is the time to make sure you have a proper procedure for departure, one that can make the difference between fun on the water and a day of frustration, or worse.
There is no end of discussion and debate about the fuel filtration needs of diesel engines. Myths and half-truths abound. So let’s set the record straight. Diesel engines are the most reliable of all internal combustion engines; they are robust and they need only two simple inputs, air and fuel. Properly maintained they will perform well for upwards of 15,000 hours before needing a re-build. By contrast, that is about three times the life of a well-maintained gasoline engine.
Even if you are on salt water and your boat can safely stay in the water year-round, are you using it regularly? Metal fittings are corroding all the time, the sun beats down on fibreglass and woodwork, and the rain and damp air all contribute to the slow but inexorable process of deterioration. When engines are used, oil and other lubricants are warmed up, spread around and parts are kept running freely. Air circulates through the interior when you are out and moving. Boats just like to be used more than they like being stored.
It was always a bit sad when we “put to bed” our power-boat at the end of the cruising season. Then, one year, our favourite mechanic suggested creating a service program at the end of this season, rather than the beginning of the next one. Price savings could be had, he explained. From then on we regarded the winterizing phase for our boat as a start of the next cruising season, not the end of the current one. What follows are some ideas to make this as easy as possible — and perhaps even less expensive.
Putting your boat away with a clean engine room and bilge at the end of the season is extremely important.
A coating of oil, or a mixture of oil and fuel, will dry out over the winter and cake onto all of the bilge systems, fasteners and mechanical equipment that it touches. Then, over the winter, the storage wrap traps the oil fumes giving it months to permeate every part of your boat. It also makes the bilge a lot harder to clean out in the spring, but spring is a time when a clean bilge has particular value.
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