While a boat is ashore, the most critical interior checks to carry out are those that concern the safety of the boat. This entails the integrity of all through-hull fittings and seacocks, the gas system and the electrical system.
- Check all the through-hull fittings and seacocks are sound and that there are no signs of leakage such as salt crystals around the fitting. They should all be free of corrosion. If they are in good order and the seacocks open and close without problem then a routine service is all that is required. Make a note of any that are seized or in poor condition as they will require extra work and may need replacing.
- Check the raw water intakes are not clogged with debris.
- Check hose connections fit well and jubilee clips are in good condition. Remember that poorly fitting hose can easily come lose and potentially sink a boat.
- Check the condition of the hoses leading to and from the seacocks. If these show signs of cracking, distortion or general deterioration, then they will need to be replaced.
- Check the transducer and log skin fittings are in good condition and there are no stains around the fittings which could be caused by a leaking seal.
- Check the gas system for leaks, following all the hoses carefully from the gas bottles to the appliances. Turn the gas on and brush the pipes and valves with soapy water – any bubbles will indicate there is a leak. Remember that gas is heavier than air and even a small gas leak can build up in the bilges and lead to a catastrophic explosion – all boats should be fitted with gas detectors for this reason.
- Check the gas detector is working.
- Check the condition of the gas regulator and replace if it shows signs of corrosion.
- Check that flexible gas hose is in date and replace if it is out of date.
- Always ensure two jubilee clips are used to connect any seacock to its corresponding pipe.
- Check the four mounting bolts on older Blake seacocks. If these are showing signs of corrosion, it may be worth re-mounting the seacock.
- Through-hull depth and speed fittings normally have a rubber seal. These can dry out and perish if the vessel is out of the water for a long period of time. Its always worth checking these fittings as soon as the vessel is lifted back into the water for leaks.
- Flexible orange gas hose should not be used behind a gas cooker. Marine gas engineers will recommend a braided hose instead, as this is better protected from chafing and damage.
Other interior checks
Other problems that are less critical but nonetheless important to sort out are any issues with bilge pumps, plumbing, heads, leaks and more cosmetic things like paintwork, varnishing and furnishing.
- Check for leaks in the water system before draining down the system for the winter. Water leaks can be difficult to detect and may be due to a badly joined fitting or pipe.
- Check the condition of both electric and manual bilge pumps. Check float switches are working correctly and that the outlet hoses are clear of debris that could cause a blockage. An outlet hose can be cleaned by back-flushing – you cannot always rely on the strainer preventing debris getting into the outlet hose and causing a blockage. Also check manually operated bilge pumps are working and that their bellows are in good condition and don’t need replacing.
- Check for leaks that may be staining woodwork, upholstery or head linings. These may be coming from poorly sealed fittings, windows, hatches or hull to deck joints. You need to ascertain how serious these leaks are and if you are unable to trace what is causing them, this may be time to ask your surveyor for advice.
- Check the condition of the bulkheads and make sure there is no de-lamination of veneer panels or moulding, which could be early signs of rot beginning beneath. This may not appear too serious at first sight but left unchecked could develop into a nasty problem. Make a note that this will need sorting out in due course. The issue here is that if nothing is done and the problem gets steadily worse then you could be looking at a major interior re-build which will be both time consuming and expensive.