Spring Commissioning by Michael Dunn ...


You can make two assumptions when getting your boat ready for launch:

  1. Your To-do list will end up approximately three times longer than you expected.
  2. It'll all take twice as long as you planned.

Both are especially likely to come true if you were not able to do a thorough de-commissioning last fall. Most boaters have a good To-do list of routine tasks before launch; for those who may not, there is a general check list for both power and sail below the signature line of this article. If you have questions, suggestions or corrections, or need help on a specific problem/situation while getting your boat ready, please e-mail your Editor and we'll try to see if any of your fellow members have had similar situations in their experience.


Happy uncovering, cleaning, fixing and tinkering !

Michael Dunn,

E-SHALLOWS Editor Membership and Communications Officer

Shediac Squadron

CPS Squadron web site: http://www.shediac-cps.org/




Much of this work may have been either completed or substantially advanced last fall, really the best time to do certain items.


    Check for ice damage if boat/rig/gear stored uncovered (particularly mast & furling gear)
    Check for rodent/bird nests in openings (mast, exhausts etc.)
    Do a general cleaning of hull, deck and topsides using a mild detergent
    Inspect deck for excess crazing, soft spots etc.
    Make sure drains and scuppers are clear
    Clean and polish all exterior metal items with a good metal polish (such as Autosol)
    Clean teak and treat (oil, Cetol etc., as you find best)
    Clean windows and hatches (toothpaste gets rid of minor scratches on plastic)
    Clean canvas, bimini and dodger
    Clean interior including bilges
    While it is likely you will meet a few nuts on the water this summer, now's the time to find out where the loose bolts, nuts and screws came from on your boat!
    Check spare parts and tools and replace as necessary.
    Lubricate the tools to prevent rust (WD-40)
    Check and replace wiper blades if necessary
    Ensure applicable registrations/licenses etc. are current and onboard
    Has your insurance has been renewed?
    Book a launch date with your Yacht Club/Marina Arrange for friends to help at launch
    At the Yacht Club/Marina, check you have everything ready for launch, put all the pieces in a safe yet readily accessible location on the boat/in your vehicle
    Before launch, install hull plugs if needed
    For sailboats, have clevis pins at the ready to save crane time
    Install long bow and stern lines to control boat when lifting
    Before launch, launder and press your CPS & Shediac Squadron pennants
    Pay your CPS dues!!


    Check for hull abrasions, scratches, gouges, etc. and repair
    Check and replace zincs
    Check for blisters and repair if necessary
    Check rub rails
    Check swim platform and/or ladder
    Inspect and test trim tabs
    Check shaft, cutlass bearing, strut and prop
    Check rudder and fittings (watch for rudder cracks from frozen water over the winter)
    Touch up or prepare/fair bottom and replace antifouling paint
    After cleaning hull apply a coat of good wax (don't leave it too long before buffing)


    Check stanchion, pulpits and lifelines for integrity, ensure base pins are installed
    Check ground tackle, lines, fenders, etc.
    Inspect anchor windlass and lubricate
    Check cleats, bitts and chocks
    Check hull/deck joint and chainplates, watch for rust indicating leaks
    Check deck, windows, and port lights for leaks
    Clean and lubricate winches as needed
    Check and lubricate blocks, pad eyes, etc.
    Check dinghy and life raft


    Check, test and lubricate seacocks (white waterproof grease)
    Check condition of hoses and clamps
    Make sure below waterline hoses are double clamped
    Check bilge pumps for automatic and manual operation
    Check for oil in bilges, where did it come from?
    Check limber holes and make sure they are clear of debris
    Check fir extinguishers


    Check battery fluid level
    Recharge batteries
    Check terminals for corrosion, clean and lubricate
    Check bonding system
    Inspect all wiring for corrosion, wear and chafe
    Test all gauges for operability
    Check shore power and charger
    If fused, have spares aboard
    Check shore power cables
    Check all lighting fixtures (including navigation lights) and ensure you have spare bulbs
    Check all electronics for proper operation
    Inspect antennas


As required for your boat type/size by the Canadian Coast Guard.

See CCG's "Safe Boating Guide".

If you don't have the Guide it's online at:
You can go to the address above to get it in a different language.

OR: You can download a copy of the 2011 "Safe Boating Guide" here (do a right click "save target as")


    Replace spark plugs if required
    Change oil & filters - have spares onboard
    Check and change fuel filters - have spares onboard
    Empty water separator filters
    Check and change engine zincs
    Check cooling system, flush antifreeze, change coolant as necessary - have extra onboard
    Update engine maintenance log, especially date & hours of last oil changes
    Check belts for tension & wear
    Check transmission fluid
    Check and clean backfire flame arrestor
    Check water pump impeller
    Check and clean water strainer
    Check bilge blower
    Check I/O bellows if applicable


    Check for smooth operation - lubricate and clean as necessary
    Flush out antifreeze
    If equipped with treatment system, have chemicals on hand
    Check Y-valve operation, label valve & secure


    Flush water tank (Shock the drinking water tank using swimming pool shock, not bleach - Pool shock breaks down in a few days and then can be flushed out)
    Check water system and pump for leaks and proper operation
    Check that hot water tank working on both AC and engines
    Check for tank cap keys on board
    Check and clean shower sump pump screens


    Fill propane tank, check solenoid & manual valves, check storage box vent to make sure it is clear, same for overboard drain.
    Check gas detectors
    Check refrigerator, clean and freshen, operate on AC and DC Clean stove, check that all burners and oven are working
    Check microwave, if fitted


    Replace spark plugs
    Check plug wires for wear
    Check prop for nicks and bends
    Change/fill gearcase lube (should be done in fall)
    Inspect fuel lines, primer bulb and tank for leaks
    Lubricate moving parts and spray interior with water repellant (though not an exceptional lubricant, WD40 is an excellent water repellant)


    Ensure registration is current and available
    Check that your insurance is paid
    Check rollers and pads
    Check and lubricate wheel bearings as required
    Clean and lubricate winch Lubricate tongue jack and wheel
    Test lights and electrical connections
    Check tire pressure and condition
    Check brakes (if equipped)
    Check safety chains
    Check tongue lock
    Got the right size ball on your vehicle?


    Check general condition
    Look for wear and chafing, have restitched as needed
    Check battens and batten pockets
    Check all sail attachments
    Inspect bolt rope or slugs


    Check mast and spreaders (especially mast/spreader mounts) for corrosion or damage Inspect spreader boots and shrouds
    Inspect rivets and screw connections for corrosion
    Check reefing points and reefing gear
    Inspect furling systems for damage
    Check and lubricate roller furling as per manufacturer
    Clean & lubricate sail track
    Check rigging, turnbuckles and clevis pins for wear and corrosion
    Inspect stays for fraying and "fish hooks"
    Check forestay and backstay connections
    Check masthead fitting and blocks
    Check halyards and consider replacing or swapping end for end
    Check chainplates, watch for rust indicating leaks, same for stay/shroud hull fittings
    Tape turnbuckles, cotter pins, and spreaders, don't overdo it on the tape, don't use duct tape


    Before buying a new VHF radio or GPS, learn about GMDSS
    Look closely at your electrical, the single major system most neglected on our boats
    How old is your rigging?
    Consider gradual replacement over next 2-3 years
    Consider replacing gate type seacocks with bronze ball valves
    Double up on clamps on thruhull hoses (especially below waterline)
    Install high vented loop on head (especially sail boats)
    Replacing appliances?
    Consider an DC/AC inverter before deciding what to buy
- If your battery (ies) is (are) not secured in covered boxes, install those little boots on the positive terminals, cheap at Romeo’s Marine!

Please have a safe and pleasuable boating summer.

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