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March 25, 2009

BoatU.S. offers spring commissioning safety checklist

A free Spring Safety Pre-launch Checklist is available online at BoatUS.com/freebies/springlist.htm

Whether you have a power or sailboat, inboard or outboard, this Spring Commissioning Safety Checklist from BoatU.S. is an easy way to get ready for the season:

BEFORE YOU LAUNCH:
· Inspect and lubricate seacocks. Hoses and hose clamps should be inspected and replaced as necessary.
· Replace deteriorated anodes.
· Inspect prop(s) for dings, pitting and distortion. Make sure cotter pins are secure. Grip the prop and try moving the shaft - if it's loose, the cutlass bearing may need to be replaced.
· Check to make sure the rudderstock hasn't been bent.
· Inspect the hull for blisters, distortions and stress cracks.
· Make sure your engine intake sea strainer is free of corrosion, clean and properly secured.
· Check the engine shaft and rudder stuffing boxes for looseness. After the boat is launched, be sure to check all through-hulls for leaks.
· Use a hose to check for deck leaks at ports and hatches. Renew caulk or gaskets as necessary.
· If equipped, ensure that the stern drain plug is installed.

OUTDRIVES and OUTBOARDS:
· Inspect rubber outdrive bellows for cracked, dried and/or deteriorated spots (look especially in the folds), and replace if suspect.
· Check power steering and power trim oil levels.
· Replace anodes that are more than half worn away.
· Inspect outer jacket of control cables. Cracks or swelling indicate corrosion and mean that the cable must be replaced.

ENGINES AND FUEL SYSTEMS:
· Inspect fuel lines, including fill and vent hoses, for softness, brittleness or cracking. Check all joints for leaks and make sure all lines are well supported with non-combustible clips or straps with smooth edges.
· Inspect fuel tanks, fuel pumps and filters for leaks. Clamps should be snug and free of rust. Clean or replace fuel filters. Owners of gasoline-powered boats with fiberglass fuel tanks should consult a marine professional to inspect for any ethanol related issues.
· Inspect cooling hoses for stiffness, rot, leaks and/or cracking. Make sure they fit snugly and are double-clamped.
· Every few years, remove and inspect exhaust manifold for corrosion.
· Clean and tighten electrical connections, especially both ends of battery cables. Wire-brush battery terminals and fill cells with distilled water (if applicable).
· Inspect bilge blower hose for leaks.

SAILBOAT RIGGING:
· Inspect swage fittings for cracks and heavy rust (some discoloration is acceptable). Inspect wire halyards and running backstays for "fishhooks" and rust.
· Remove tape on turnbuckles and lubricate threads, preferably with Teflon. Replace old tape with fresh tape.
· Recaulk through-deck chainplates as necessary (generally, once a decade). If you suspect the core around the chainplate is damp, remove the chainplate to inspect and make repairs.

TRAILERS:
· Inspect tire treads and sidewalls for cracks or lack of tread and replace as necessary. Check air pressure. Don't forget the spare!
· Inspect wheel bearings and repack as necessary.
· Test tail and back-up lights and winch to make sure they're working properly. Inspect hitch chains.
· Inspect trailer frame for rust. Sand and paint to prevent further deterioration.
· Inspect brakes and brake fluid reservoir.

MISCELLANEOUS:
· Check expiration dates on flares and fire extinguishers.
· Check stove and remote tanks for loose fittings and leaking hoses.
· Inspect bilge pump and float switch to make sure they're working properly.
· Inspect dock and anchor lines for chafing.
· Update or replace old charts, waterway guides.
· Check shore power cable connections for burns, which indicates the cable and/or the shore power inlet must be replaced.
· Make sure your boating license and/or registration is up to date. Don't forget your trailer tags.
· Review your boat insurance policy and update coverage if needed. Be sure you have fuel spill insurance coverage.
· Make sure you have a properly sized and wearable life jackets in good condition for each passenger, including kids.
· Test smoke, carbon monoxide, fume and bilge alarms.
· Be sure to get a free vessel safety check from the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary or U.S. Power Squadrons. Find out how at www.SafetySeal.net.

A free Spring Safety Pre-launch Checklist is available at www.BoatUS.com/freebies/springlist.htm.