good condition you will see a bright yellow colour, however, a pinkish hue indicates damage due to de- zincification. If the fittings are in good order, prime the exposed area with an appropriate primer before applying antifouling.

wear or other damage. It is also prudent to check and grease the engine controls at the same time The keel should be inspected for

any obvious grounding damage – and for any evidence of movement between the keel and hull. Any indication of problems here should then be investigated by a surveyor and repaired in accordance with his or her recommendations. Through-hull fittings are all too

often neglected. Each one should operate smoothly – if not it needs to be dismantled, freed up and greased. It’s also important to check for evidence of the de-zincification that would seriously compromise the strength of the fitting. An easy check is to scrape back a small area of antifouling on each one and sand away the very top layer of oxidised metal with a thumb-sized piece of emery paper. If the metalwork is in

ENGINE While the stern gear or sail-drive must be attended to with the boat out of the water, engine servicing can take place either ashore or afloat. Diligent owners will have already done this in the autumn, to give the engine the benefit of new oil over the off-season, as well as winterising the unit to prevent frost damage over the winter. As a minimum an annual service is likely to include replacing fuel filters, the raw water pump impeller, drive belts, plus the engine oil and filter. However, it’s important to always consult the documentation for the unit in your boat to ascertain whether any additional checks or procedures are required. Read Top 10 diesel engine tips for trouble-free power.

DECK GEAR It’s all too easy to neglect these areas until something breaks or fails to work. Start by assessing the condition of all the lines, looking in particular for signs of chafe, check the condition of splices and look for cracks in the casting of snap shackles next to the hinge. It’s also important to service winches and the windlass and it’s worth checking for wear on the jaws of clutches. Teak decks on fibreglass or metal

boats have a limited lifespan, any signs of loose caulking, split planks or leaky deck fittings should be attended to immediately to prevent water getting under the deck. Much of the damage to such decks is the result of scrubbing with a stiff brush, which can wear up to 1mm per year from the timber. A soft brush, used gently across the grain when washing decks will avoid this wear. If your decks are fibreglass and leaks have developed it will most likely be a badly fitted or worn fitting, you could try creeping crack cure but if this fails reseat the unit using a poly- sulphide sealant.

MAST, SPARS, STANDING RIGGING AND SAILS While a visual check won’t tell you everything about the rig, a thorough inspection can still reveal broken strands of wire, cracks in the mast wall around shroud terminals and damage near the spreader roots. In addition to a comprehensive

check at deck level, it’s worth going aloft at least once a year to check that all is well. Pay close attention to the area around fittings, swages, spreader roots, and rigging terminals. Spreader ends should be checked to ensure they are smooth and won’t damage genoas or spinnakers. Examine sails for damage to

stitching, as well as chafe or tears in the fabric. Pay particular attention to the areas around the head, tack and clew, as well as the leech, batten pockets and spreader patches.

SAFETY EQUIPMENT Almost every item of marine safety equipment has a limited service life or needs periodic maintenance. This includes distress flares, EPRIBs and PLBs, jackstays, lifebuoy lights, lifejackets and more. In addition to giving this gear a full annual service, as per the manufacturer’s recommendations, the start of the season is a good time for a comprehensive audit of the equipment carried, including documenting further tasks that will need to be carried out during the season, including periodic lifejacket

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