Did you know that you can save hundreds of dollars on your cruising sailboat by doing seven things once a year? Would you like to have more money for the cruising kitty or for the repair coffers? If you choose cruising, these once-a-year tips are for you.
Seven annual inspections to save money
1. Inspect Boat Sails and Repair.
Remove all sails and canvas, such as Biminis and dodgers from the boat. Inspect both for chafe or tears. Have the local sail loft do a 'head to toe' inspection. Ask your sailmaker to beef up worn areas with additional chafe patches to prevent problems in the future.
2. Service Your Small Diesel Engine.
All cruising sailboats abuse their diesel engines. We sailors just don't run them long or hard enough to make a diesel happy. Hire a mechanic once a year for one hour (or more). Have them conduct a 'physical' on the beast. Ask lots of questions. You'll learn a ton of stuff and save lots of money in the future.
3. Make a Bottom Dive or Haulout.
Do you sail in fresh water or salt? If you sail in salt, your bottom gets fouled after a few months dockside, at anchor of at a mooring. If you don't haulout, hire a diver to check the bottom, propeller condition and rudder. Keep them clean and barnacle free for peak performance.
4. Test Every Seacock.
If you haul the boat, you need to break down every seacock, inspect the internal parts, and grease the fitting. Use only a silicone waterproof grease to prevent damage to rubber parts. Keep them serviced so that they serve you for years to come.
5. Unstep the Sailboat Mast - Check Sailing Rigging.
If you haul the boat, unstep the mast. Otherwise, you or a rigger must go aloft to check mast tangs, spreaders, spreader boots and halyard blocks. Check all running rigging and replace if worn. Keep your mast in place and your sailing rig strong to prevent failure.
6. Repair Spongy or Crazed Sailboat Decks.
Moisture finds its way into cored decks after a decade or two. Check around every fitting, like lifeline stanchion bases, cleats and mast step for crazing. Before you fill them, use a moisture gauge to check for water intrusion. You must dry the core before filling with sealant. Keep cracks from crunching your cruising plans by taking action once a year.
7. Conduct an Anchor Rode Inspection.
Pull it out--pull it all out. Empty your anchor rode from the anchor locker and onto the deck or dock. Inspect every inch of the line, give it a fresh water washdown and dry it out. Salt acts like sandpaper on nylon line and wet nylon loses 15% of its strength. Dry out the anchor locker to prevent mildew.
Follow these steps for stress free cruising sailing. Spend a small amount of money now, to avoid mega buck expenditures down the road!
John Jamieson (Captain John) with 25+ years of experience shows you the no-nonsense cruising skills you need for safer sailing worldwide. Visit his website to sign up for the highly popular weekly newsletter 'Captain John's Sailing Tips'. Discover how you can gain instant access to hundreds of sailing articles, videos, e-Books and more!