It’s been said that the best way to keep a boat in top condition is to keep using it.
As strange as that may sound, there’s a solid logic behind it. That’s because a boat that no longer gets regular use often no longer receives regular maintenance. Prolonged inactivity therefore allows problems that were previously kept at bay to potentially creep back in.
If you haven’t been out for a while, now’s the time to give your boat a good looking over. A few extra minutes checking the condition of your rig will ensure trouble-free boating for many years to come. This handy boating checklist should get you started.
Use it or lose it
The busiest time of year for Coast Guard callouts is when boats come out of a long period of idleness.
“October and November is definitely our busy time,” says Deanne Semmens, coast guard volunteer and skipper at Carrum, located at one of Victoria’s busiest boat ramps. This period, of course, coincides with many boaters venturing out for the first time in many months. She says a great many of the callouts can be attributed to flat batteries and stale fuel, both of which can usually be prevented through maintenance. Although the seasonal spike in callouts occurs at the start of the summer boating season, the lesson is the same for other peak holiday periods: maintain your boat, even when it’s not being used.
Petrol and fuel vapour can be fatal. Indeed, says Deanne, recently two people in Gippsland were injured after their boat caught fire on Lake Narracan.
Always check for leaks and fuel smells before starting the engine or operating anything with a switch. Check fuel lines as they can become loose or brittle and check fuel filters, even if they’ve been inspected at the start of the season, then clean or replace if required.
“If you get an explosion on the water, you don’t get a second chance,” says Deanne. “Wherever you have a spark and fuel vapour… it could end up in a pretty nasty situation,” she says. “Fibreglass burns very very quickly and all we’ll be able to do is hopefully find you in the water.”