Home' Afloat : AFLOAT October 2014 Contents Take monthly with water October 2014 53
corrosion, inspect fuel lines,
manual priming bulb and
connections for leaks, and
clean out or replace fuel filter.
Make sure you have
enough fuel for the trip,
leaving one third to get
out, one third to get home,
and a third in reserve. The
bottom line with boat fuels
is: use your engines often and
turnover a fresh supply. With
diesel, invest in an additive
to prevent water and algae
Battery Check: The good news here is that any Joe Blow
can maintain batteries and run load tests using a multimeter.
You’re looking for at least 12.4 volts at idle and 9.6 volts under
You should top up battery cells with distilled water and check
each cell with a hydrometer. Battery terminals, cables and casing
should be kept clean; grease terminals regularly; and test all your
onboard electrical equipment.
Navigation lights need to be fully functional, you need
fresh batteries in your emergency torch, and your EPIRB has a
battery check function and use-by date. Same goes for flares and
everything else in your safety kit, including inflatable lifejackets
that require servicing.
Hull and Deck Check: It’s good practice to clean your boat
regularly, inspect the hull and fittings for corrosion and cracks,
ensure all bungs are suitable and in good condition, and to
check for water and fuel leaks. Ensure bilges are clean and dry
and test steering for stiffness, oiling your cables with the correct
lubricant if necessary.
Your tool kit should include your engine manual, a spare
flywheel pull rope, ‘O’ rings for fuel connector, new spark-plugs,
spark-plug spanner (or diesel injector spanner), ratchet with
extender and shifting spanner, spare fuses, bung and shackle,
and a spare propeller nut, washer, split pins and socket for
You should also carry a sharp knife, pliers and screwdrivers,
steel wool to clean battery terminals, de-watering spray (RP7 or
similar), spare oil and funnel, and a spare key and stop harness
(kill switch lanyard). Cable ties and emergency tape are handy. As
are online resources including w ww.bom.gov.au apps for weather
forecasts that you can add to your smartphone.
Safe boating! h
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And so the boating
season begins ...
October is officially the start of the boating season. Club
Commodores iron their whites, yachties shake out of the
wrinkles of their best sails, as anglers cast the lines and those
into watersports pull on the neoprene. This leaves the paddle
brigade to strike out in an effort to be fit for summer.
Ergo, the need to get your boat shipshape takes on a sense
of urgency this month. There’s the spring clean and everything
that entails from water-blasting the mould and bird calling cards
on the non-skid decks to getting a slip and antifoul.
But it’s small-boat breakdowns that top the list of marine
incidents. There’s a common thread running through most
rescues. Besides poor judgement, ill-maintained equipment is the
cause. Here’s some timely advice so that the only thing needing
a tow this spring are your pesky tin lids on the tubes out yonder.
The maintenance checklist centres on four key areas: your
engine, fuel, batteries and the boat structure. Yachties should
add sails. Oh, and get a rig check by a pro.
Engine Check: The generally accepted practice is to get
your engine(s) serviced annually, even if you have been out
infrequently. For skippers on the go, manufacturers recommend
changing gearbox oil every three months or 100 hours.
Champion fishing guide Craig McGill from Fishabout Tours
on Sydney Harbour, who clocks 1,200 outboard-engine hours
in a couple of years, saves a packet by performing the basic
maintenance himself. In summer, this includes monthly: engine
oil changes, gearbox changes, fuel filter replacement, and greasing
of prop shafts and all lubrications points.
“But I like to keep my mechanic in the loop and get him to
overhaul the waterpumps and perform the general tune ups,”
McGill says, adding that he saves by buying his oil in bulk and
You should also replace your pull cord if it is fraying, check
all wiring, clean spark-plugs, check gaps and replace if required,
clean cooling system passages, check the propeller and nut, and
check and replace the sacrificial anode if required. Get the experts
to run a compression test and tune your engine.
Fuel Check: The lead cause of engine failure is less-than-
optimal fuel. Steer clear of ethanol blends altogether. It separates
in no time. Use ‘premium’ even for your rough-and-ready portable
outboard. You’ll notice the difference.
Replace your old fuel and never go out with fuel which is
more than six-months old. Clean your fuel tank at least once a
year with a suitable solvent. Inspect the fuel tank for cracks or
keeps his boat
Time for a spring clean or get the
detailers to do it.
ON THE WATER
with David Lockwood
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