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Safe at Sea: Routine maintenance tips

October 10, 2018
By PAT SCHMIDT , Island Reporter, Captiva Current, Sanibel-Captiva Islander

As the "season" reopens here in Southwest Florida, many boats are coming out of storage. Whether your boat has been housed in a multi-level storage facility or on the lift in your canal, there are several routine checks that should be completed before your vessel hits the water.

Most of these checks will seem obvious, and boaters think they check these items regularly. However, an intentional and thorough check probably happens fewer times than you think. Therefore, since your boat is one of your more prized possessions as well as one of your more potentially hazardous possessions - like your vehicle - America's Boating Club urges boaters to complete the following "double-check" of your boat's hull, its riggings and the engine:


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- Are there any visible cracks or crazing?

- Does the hull sound solid?

- Pull on the transom. Is it solid?

- If there is a drain plug, is it in place?

- Bilge: Is there water in the bilge? Are there oily rags (fire hazard) in the area? Are there cracks around any fittings (above and below the waterline)?-


- Are the lines showing signs of wear? Are they fraying?

- Remember to keep lines clean, stored in dry areas out of the sun.


- Follow the manufacturer's maintenance plan.

- Keep your boat clean.

- Check - and then double-check - for leaks or cracks in the engine and its lines.

- Use screw clamps to hold hoses firm. Check that they are tight.

- Check that the backfire arrestor is attached and serviceable.

- Check all belts.

- Examine the battery for corrosion.

Finally, check for anything unusual and if you sense something is amiss, act on it. Do not have any regrets once you are out on the water.

The routine maintenance tips and more are covered in the America's Boating Course. For those interested, America's Boating Club of Sanibel-Captiva will offer the course three times during the upcoming boating season, with the first session scheduled for December. Upon their successful completion of the course, participants will receive their Florida Boaters Certificate.

Pat Schmidt is a member of America's Boating Club of Sanibel-Captiva. For more information, contact 239-985-9472 or or visit online at



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