Before leaving on any delivery, OceanTrax skippers carry out a thorough inspection of every vessel to familiarise themselves with the boat and to make sure the boat is seaworthy. An example of our checklist can be found here
But the checks do not stop there. When underway our skippers carry out daily maintenance checks to ensure the smooth running of all our deliveries.
daily maintenance engine checks
Daily engine checks should include the following;
- Fluid levels, oil and coolant levels. Oil levels should always be checked with the engine stopped. If the engine has been running, ensure you wait for the oil level to settle to get an accurate reading.
- Check gearbox fluid level
- Check Belt tension and check for any black rubber deposits which indicate wear
- Check the bilge under the engine for any fluid leaks
- Check sea strainer for weed and plastic
- Check engine mount bolts
It is a good idea to cast an eye over the engine while it is running, as leaks are more likely to show.
Walk the deck
Check deck fittings with a quick walk around the deck, if weather permits!
These areas should be included in your checks:
- Blocks at the base of the mast
- Damage to sheaves
- Loose shackle pins, worn or deformed shackles
- Excessive movement in jib cars which could indicate worn bearings
- Check near the toe rail for any split rings or pins which may have fallen out from somewhere
- Check your anchor is still secure, especially if you have been through bad weather. We always tie an anchor instead of purely relying on the pin
- Check the gooseneck and boom end fittings for wear and for corrosion/cracking near the points where different metals are in contact
Keep your bilges and lockers dry
By keeping your bilges clean and dry, leaks and problems will be easier to see and trace faster.
It will also make your living space more comfortable and keep the damp down in the vessel.
Also ensure the area under the engine is clean, as this will show problems early before they become a bigger issue.
Daily maintenance battery checks
Check your voltage levels. A falling level can indicate an alternator or battery issue. If your batteries are the older style wet batteries, then these levels should be regularly checked, although if managed well, once a week should be adequate. If a sulphuicr smell is present onboard when the engine is running, this could be an indication of wet batteries running dry.
Rotate your food
With deep large top-loading fridges it is easy to lose track of food use by dates, so check food stocks on a daily basis, bringing the items which need eating to the top of the pile. This will ensure you are minimising waste and the chances of food rotting onboard causing unpleasant smells.
As you move to warmer or colder climates, check the temperature in both your fridge and freezer as the thermostat may need adjusting.
Manage water and fuel carefully
Monitor fresh water and fuel consumption daily. A sudden change in either can be an indication of a problem.
Ensure you have enough of both for your passage. If not start rationing early as it will have less impact. If the vessel has a water-maker, run it regularly to keep the tanks full.
Daily maintenance standing and running rigging checks
Be on the lookout for chafe on running rigging, especially where clutches frequently grip lines. If chafing occurs, try to change to point they grip, or if it is badly worn, change the line before it breaks at a time when it may be needed.
Check standing rigging for broken strands by running your fingers up the shroud or stay, any strand sitting proud of the rest is an indication of a broken wire. Check the bottle screws and shackles for cracks and wear. More information on checking your rigging can be found here.
Look up the rig
From the base of the mast look up the rig. Check the backstays are pulling the head of the mast back and the mid-section of the mast is not excessively pumping.
Look up the front of the mast to check lateral alignment and look up the back for any issues with batten cars, or damage to the luff of the mainsail.
If the sea is stable enough to allow, with a pair of binoculars check the wind instruments, VHF antenna and radar (if fitted) brackets for any movement.
Visually inspect the sail at points which take stress such as reefing points, outhaul, halyard attachment and at the tack. Check for any chaffing or fraying which may get worse without attention.
Article by Dieter Peschkes director and owner of OceanTrax yacht deliveries