Getting Your Boat Ready for Spring

A Brewer Cowesett technician servicing an inboard water pump. By: Kindra ClineffPhotography
A Brewer Cowesett technician servicing an inboard water pump. By: Kindra ClineffPhotography

With the beginning of the spring season right around the corner, now is the time to take advantage of your boat being out of the water, and tackle your winter punch list. We are all familiar with the annual painting and waxing that comes along with boat ownership, however there are extra steps to take to ensure your boat is ready for a trouble free season of fishing and boating. Below is a list compiled by the Brewer Cowesett Marina service department of 5 important, but often overlooked items to make sure you are ready for the spring run.

1. Replace all fuel filters: With more biological additives being introduced to our fuels, and fuel injected marine engines having stricter tolerances, clean fuel is imperative to trouble free operation of your boat. This applies to all marine engines, both gas and diesel, inboard as well as outboard.

Most boats feature both a “primary” filter as well as a “secondary” filter. The primary filter is usually a larger canister style spin-on filter mounted to a housing attached to the boat. This is also often referred to as your “fuel water separator”. This is your first line of defense against fuel contamination, and these should be changed at least annually, with spares kept on board. Secondary fuel filters, typically mounted to the engine, should also be changed. These vary greatly among engines, and may require
engine-specific tools to remove. When working with fuel, particularly in confined spaces such as bilges, extreme caution must be taken. If you are unsure of how to perform this procedure make sure to contact a qualified technician.

2. Test/Replace Batteries: There is nothing worse than being stuck at the end of a fun day of fishing with a dead battery. Due to the use marine batteries receive (extensive electronics, livewell pumps running, washdowns, etc), they tend to have a shorter lifespan than batteries used in cars. If your batteries are more than 2 seasons old, we recommend having them tested, and beyond 4 years it is time to consider having them replaced.

3. Check/Replace Navigation Lights: In New England some of the best striper fishing occurs after dark, but operating your vessel after sunset requires special precautions to be safe. Navigation lights are a crucial safety item, and are often ignored. Check their operation, remove covers and look for corrosion around bulbs, and finally replace all bulbs. Converting to an LED navigation light system will both extended the life and reliability of the system, and reduce maintenance. For more information on LED lighting systems contact your local Brewer Yacht Yard.

4. Cutlass Bearings (inboards):
It is a common misconception that boats with a straight inboard propulsion system do not require any maintenance. One of the most often overlooked maintenance item is proper alignment. In a typical inboard boat there is one, or more, “cutlass bearings”. Cutlass bearings are a rubber, wearable, part that holds the shaft. Over time as these naturally wear, the shaft may begin to come out of alignment. This can cause vibration, decreased fuel efficiency, and may lead to the need to replace the shaft or eventually a transmission. Having your cutlass bearing and alignment checked, and aligned or replaced, is a necessary and very inexpensive way to increase the life of your shaft and transmission.

A Brewer Cowesett Technician installing a new cutlass bearing. Photo By: Kindra Clineff Photography
A Brewer Cowesett Technician installing a new cutlass bearing. Photo By: Kindra Clineff Photography

5. Service Waterpumps/ Impellers: Similar to a cutlass bearing, your waterpump impeller is a wearable rubber part that requires periodic replacement. Most manufacturers recommend replacing the impeller at least every other season, with more frequent changes with increased boat use. Neglecting to have your waterpump serviced could result in being stranded waiting for a tow, or worse an expensive repair bill for an overheated engine. Replacing your impeller and checking/servicing the housing are inexpensive ways to avoid costly repairs.

While engines and systems vary greatly between boats, making sure you have tackled the above 5 items is a great start to having a fun and trouble-free 2015. If you are unfamiliar with any of the above procedures, or need to order parts, your local Brewer Yacht Yard would be happy to help get you ready for the season.