Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Make Your Boat Watertight

Here are some tips that will ensure your boat does not take on water when you launch it.
Inspect all through hull fittings for any signs of corrosion or cracks. Make sure your shut-off valves work.
Inspect all water hoses on the engine and pump. Make sure they are attached and flexible. Replace any hoses that are cracked or stiff.
Re-tighten all hose clamps, if you see any that are rusted or corroded, replace them.
Note: You should have 2 hose clamps, on all hose connections, this is very important.

Check the packing gland around the rudderpost, in the bilge, for signs of leaking or corrosion.
On the underside of the hull, pull on the rudder itself. If there is any wiggle in the rudder shaft, the gland needs to be repacked. If you've never done this before, have someone show you how.
If you have a propeller shaft that goes through the bottom of your boat, the shaft log and stuffing box need to be checked for signs of corrosion or wear.

If you do repack the stuffing box, don't over-tighten the packing nut. This is because the fitting and the shaft are cooled by seawater and a couple of drops of water leakage per minute is perfect.
Remove the bilge pump from its mounting. Clean the strainer and make sure the pump is clean of any debris, then reinstall.
Make sure your bilge pump is connected to your battery. Turn your pump on just to make sure that it runs.
If you have any other through hull fittings or hoses for things such as heads, sinks, air etc., make sure that these hoses are in good shape.
Check your entire bilge and make sure that it's clean and free of debris, grease and oil.
If you have a drain plug make sure it is in. I have seen people forget this on more than one occasion.

If you have bronze hull fittings, take a small knife and scrape the fitting. If it's the color of gold, it's in good shape. If it's a red, copper color, replace the fitting.
Some hose clamps are not 100% stainless steel, they will corrode and rust quickly.