Select Page

Keeping a boat maintenance log is an ideal way of reminding owners what needs to be done to a boat and when. Read on for some tips, advice and a sample maintenance log.

However keen you may be to work on your boat, organising yourself can be challenging on occasions. Planning routine boat maintenance in advance can really help you in the long term.

Getting organised

If you are thinking of doing the bulk of the work yourself then it is advisable to be realistic about how much work needs to be done and approximately how long it is going to take. The winter weather can often put a spanner in the works so you may need to build in some flexibility. For those fortunate enough to have friends or family who are happy to give you a hand, the sooner you can firm up dates in diaries for doing this work the better. Remember to give them plenty of advance warning, preferably when the sun is still shining.

Even if you are not going to do the routine maintenance work yourself due to the pressure of work, physical impediment, or because you can afford not to, then you still need to do some planning well ahead of time. This means speaking to your boatyard early on and explaining what tasks need to be done and when. It is a little foolhardy just to take the boat ashore at the end of the season and then three months later ask the yard to do all the maintenance just before you plan to go afloat in the spring. Not a good plan.

Doing the work yourself

Begin by checking through the boat’s maintenance history, noting when work was done in previous years, how much it cost and estimating how long each task took.

Make a list of the materials and tools you will need for each task coming up and remember to keep a note of what you spent on materials and where you bought them. With boating, it always pays to shop around to get the best price for parts.

While your local chandlery might be your favourite shop in the world to browse in, if you are after non-specialist products, such as sponges, brushes, paint rollers, thinners, solvents and tape, you will most likely find similar items in large hardware stores at a fraction of the price. Also, if you are really organised, then buy enough materials to last for a whole season and you will save yourself both time and money in the long run.

Maintenance log spreadsheets

There are some excellent downloadable boat maintenance log spreadsheets available and one in particular I would recommend is produced by Viki Moore of Astrolabe Sailing see www.astrolabesailing.com. Viki’s spreadsheet collates all kinds of information which is boating related including maintenance, boat details, spare parts, annual budget, personal inventory, passage log and more.

Viki’s boat maintenance worksheet is designed to work as a reminder of work to be done as well as a record of what has been done in the past. There are columns to add the parts required, their part number, measurements and other details to make life easier when you need to place orders and plan the work.

Below are some extracts taken from Viki’s maintenance log that gives an overview plan of the routine maintenance that needs to be carried out annually on a typical mid-size cruising yacht.

BOATYARD

MAINTENANCE

LOG

 

 

Item

Checks

Notes

Engine

Oil level

 

 

Coolant level

 

 

Battery fluid

 

 

Drive belt tension

 

 

Check raw water inlet strainer is clear

 

 

Stern gland lubrication

 

 

Fuel water separator – drain water

 

 

Change engine lubricating oil

 

 

Change lubricating oil filter

 

 

Transmission oil level

 

 

Air cleaner element

 

 

Raw water pump impeller

 

 

Wasting anode, replace when necessary

 

 

Remove heat exchanger tube stack, clean . Replace rubber O rings

 

 

Lubricate key switch with WD40

 

 

Check all external nuts, bolts and fastenings are tight

 

 

Check ball joint nyloc nuts for tightness on gearbox and speed control levers

 

 

Grease control cable joints and end fittings

 

 

Grease exposed parts of gear shift mechanism

 

 

Check for leaks in fuel system

 

 

Drain water off fuel filter

 

 

Check engine mounts

 

 

Change engine oil and oil filter at end of season

 

 

Top up fuel tanks to prevent condensation

 

 

Protect the sealed cooling circuit with anti-freeze

 

 

Protect the raw water cooling circuit with anti-freeze

 

 

Disconnect the batteries and take ashore

 

 

Ensure cockpit engine instrument panel is protected

 

 

Spray engine instrument panel key switch with WD40 or equivalent

 

 

Clean engine space

 

 

 

 

Stern gear

Stern tube

 

 

Stern gland – requires annual maintenance

 

 

Propeller – grease moving parts as required

 

 

Prop anode

 

 

 

 

Hull and keel

Pressure wash immediately after lift out

 

 

Check hull-deck joint

 

 

Inspect for chips and dings in the gelcoat

 

 

Check for signs of osmosis – mark any blisters

 

 

Check bulkheads and internal hull members for signs of movement

 

 

Check keel bolts

 

 

Check keel for rust spots

 

 

Check for signs of grounding damage

 

 

 

 

Rudder

Check rudder is in line with keel

 

 

Check rudder bearings for excessive play

 

 

Check rudder mountings and pintles are in good condition

 

 

Check tiller and tiller head for condition

 

 

 

 

Steering

Check steering cables

 

 

Lubricate steering cables

 

 

Check adjustment nuts are tight

 

 

Check sheave supports are firmly mounted

 

 

Ensure area is free from gear and tangles

 

 

Examine rudder shaft

 

 

Test emergency steering

 

 

 

 

Deck

Check for signs of delamination or damage

 

 

Check hatches for signs of leaks

 

 

Check windows for signs of leaks

 

 

Check star crazing in the gelcoat

 

 

Check the toerail is  properly fixed and in good condition

 

 

Check stanchions, pushpit, pulpit and guardrails are all well fixed and serviceable

 

 

Check all deck gear is in a serviceable condition

 

 

Check the mast base is sound and well fixed

 

 

 

 

Electrical

Clean battery tops and terminals

 

 

Lubricate terminals with petroleum jelly

 

 

Check electrolyte levels in wet cell batteries

 

 

Check all electrical connections are clean and secure

 

 

Check fuses

 

 

Check light bulbs

 

 

Check shore power connections

 

 

Check for any loose connections

 

 

Check wiring for signs of chafe

 

 

Use cable ties to tidy loose wires

 

 

 

 

Gas system

Check gas lines and pipes

 

 

Check hose clips

 

 

Check CO2 alarm is working

 

 

 

 

Plumbing

Clean bilges

 

 

Check sea cocks

 

 

Ensure all through hulls are in sound condition and have wooden plugs

 

 

Check bilge pumps are working

 

 

Check and clean water tanks

 

 

Check water pumps are working

 

 

Check sea toilets are working. Service where necessary

 

 

Check all taps are working correctly

 

 

Check shower sump and drain

 

 

Inspect all hoses for leaks and kinks

 

 

Ensure all hose clamps are tight

 

 

 

 

Anchoring

Lubricate bow roller

 

 

Clean and inspect anchor chain

 

 

Check anchor shackles

 

 

Clean and inspect anchor

 

 

Check mooring lines

 

 

Check and clean fenders

 

 

Check line and buoy for emergency ditching

 

 

 

 

Navigation and communications

Check GPS is working

 

 

Check chart plotter is working

 

 

Do VHF radio check

 

 

Swing compass

 

 

Check compass light

 

 

Check handheld VHF

 

 

 

 

Deck gear

Look for signs of water ingress or corrosion

 

 

Replace any bent or corroded fastenings

 

 

Check lifelines

 

 

Ensure stanchions are secure

 

 

Service winches

 

 

Check cleats – ensure back plates and nuts are secure

 

 

Check jammers

 

 

Check sheets

 

 

Check grab rails are secure

 

 

Check all blocks and shackles are in good condition

 

 

Wash blocks with detergent to remove salt and dirt

 

 

Polish stainless

 

 

Wash traveller cars with detergent

 

 

 

 

Sails

Remove sails for storage ashore

 

 

Wash and dry sails in fresh water / send to be laundered

 

 

Wash sheets and halyards

 

 

Check for any tears and shafing

 

 

Check seam stitching

 

 

Check condition of eyes and cringles

 

 

Lubricate sail track

 

 

Check battens and pockets

 

 

Inspect head, tack and reef points

 

 

Replace tell tales if required

 

 

Examine all halyards

 

 

 

 

Galley

Clean cupboards

 

 

Check gimbals on stove works

 

 

Clean stove

 

 

Check and clean fridge

 

 

 

 

Rig

Safety first

 

 

•         Check halyards used for rig inspection are not damaged

•         Check the bosun’s chair is in good condition

•         Attach two halyards to the chair using knots

•         Attach tools by a lanyard

•         Have two capable people operating the winches

 

 

Deck check

 

 

Split pins are not broken or missing

 

 

No broken strands of wire

 

 

No visible signs of cracking along swage

 

 

No visible signs of rust streaking indicating broken strands or cracks

 

 

Halyards lead correctly to exit slots, chafe guards if fitted are secure and in good condition

 

 

No visible signs of damage to forestay from anchor

 

 

 

 

 

Masthead

 

 

Halyard sheaves rotate freely

 

 

Split pins are not broken or missing

 

 

Sideways movement of sheaves not too excessive

 

 

No sharp edges of sheaves able to cause wear to halyards

 

 

Electrical wires are clamped correctly and no signs of chafing

 

 

Windex and wind instrument gear correctly aligned and operating freely

 

 

 

 

 

Forestay and furler

 

 

Roller furler headstay is not damaged from halyard wrap

 

 

Halyard leads at the correct angle to the swivel car (see furler manual)

 

 

Slacken genoa halyard and inspect wear on sheaves, fairlead and top swivel

 

 

Mast tang pin hole has not elongated

 

 

Split pins are not broken or missing

 

 

No signs of corrosion around mast tangs

 

 

Fastenings are all secure

 

 

No visible signs of cracking along length of swage

 

 

No visible signs of rust streaking, indicating broken strands or cracks

 

 

 

 

 

Inner forestay / cap shrouds

 

 

Mast tang pin hole has not elongated

 

 

No signs of corrosion around mast tangs

 

 

Fastenings are all secure

 

 

No visible signs of cracking along length of swage

 

 

No visible signs of rust streaking, indicating broken strands or cracks

 

 

Split pins are not broken or missing

 

 

 

 

 

Spreader root

 

 

No signs of cracking or movement

 

 

Fastenings are all secure

 

 

 

 

 

Spreader ends

 

 

Remove covers for inspection and replace afterwards

 

 

Wire is securely seized or clamped in spreader end

 

 

No broken strands or wear

 

 

 

 

 

Spinnaker pole ring and car

 

 

Attachment points are secure

 

 

Pole ring is sized correctly for pole end

 

 

 

 

 

Deck collar

 

 

Collar is secure in position

 

 

Watertight shield is secure and not perished

 

 

 

 

 

Mast step

 

 

No evidence of excessive corrosion

 

 

Mast step is secure to hull

 

 

 

 

 

Chain plates

 

 

No sign of elongation in pin holes

 

 

Split pins are not broken or missing

 

 

Chain plates align with stay angles

 

 

No evidence of fracture in chainplate at deck level

 

 

Chain plates are fastened securely below deck to hull integrity

 

 

 

 

 

Gooseneck / vang knuckles

 

 

No signs of corrosion around mast tangs

 

 

Split pins are covered and well protected to avoid damage to sails

 

 

Fastenings are all secure

 

 

No signs of excessive wear on spacers or bushes

 

 

No signs of elongation in fittings

 

 

 

 

Dinghy

Clean

 

 

Check painter

 

 

Check anchor

 

 

Ensure there is a bailer

 

 

 

 

Safety gear

Check fire extinguishers

 

 

Inflate life jackets

 

 

Check life jacket cylinders

 

 

Service life raft

 

 

Check life rings

 

 

Check safety harnesses

 

 

Check life lines

 

 

Replace batteries in grab bag

 

 

Replace batteries in EPIRB

 

 

Check expiry date of PLB

 

 

Test bilge pumps and alarm

 

 

Check first aid kit

 

 

Check grab bag

 

 

Check flares and replace as necessary

 

 

Check jack lines and pad eyes

 

 

Check fog horn

 

 

Check wire cutters

 

 

 

Should you decide not to keep a computer based maintenance log, it would still be a good idea to make a plan of what routine maintenance needs to be done through the year, noting the jobs that can be done only when the boat is hauled out. We hope the checklists above will help you get started.

 

Cleaning & polishing painted topsides

The gelcoat topsides of a GRP boat can be pampered and restored to their former glory relatively easily when it is ashore. Gelcoat is only a very thin outer layer of the hull, often less than 1mm thick, so you should avoid cleaning it with highly abrasive cleaners, or an-ything that could potentially damage its surface.

Safety at sea principles

Safety at sea is not as simple as just spending money adding shiny new emergency equipment such as liferafts, danbuoys, distress flares, EPIRBs and so on.

Boating emergency – how to broadcast a MAYDAY emergency call

How to broadcast a MAYDAY emergency call   How to broadcast a MAYDAY emergency call if a vessel or person is in grave...

Propeller care and maintenance

Propellers are complicated and repairs should be done by specialists but owners can carry out checks and some routine maintenance themselves when the boat is in the boatyard. A propeller is critical to a boat’s performance, fuel consumption and ride, so it makes sense to keep a propeller in good working order.

Boat Handling – anchoring

Anchoring your yacht or motorboat Anchoring is one of the most important boat handling skills. If you can set an anchor...

Sailboat rig checks – Part 2

In part two of Sail boat rig checks we run through some useful rig maintenance tips and then finish with a brief look at what a professional rig check involves.

Sailing & Motoring in Fog

Sailing & Motoring in Fog You can only measure the visibility accurately if sailing & motoring in fog when you have...

Common marine electrical problems

Most problems with marine electrical systems arise from four possible sources, a lack of maintenance, a poor standard of initial installation, insufficient battery capacity, or ineffective charging systems.
Water ingress is a frequent issue – salt water can corrode contacts very quickly. If connections are not scrupulously clean – or are loose – resistance will be increased, resulting in progressively reduced power.

Navigation safety: a quick-reference mobile app to learn the ColRegs NavLights and Shapes

 Safety at SeaSafety at sea will always remains a topical and important subject that will no doubt dominate the syllabuses of nautical...

Fixing position at sea using traditional methods

This post looks at some traditional methods used for fixing a vessel’s position at sea, within sight of land. Electronic fixes using chart plotters are very straightforward to record, but if for some reason a vessel’s electronics are faulty it is essential that a skipper knows how to use traditional methods.

Stress cracks on GRP boats

It is quite common to find cracks in the gelcoat when inspecting the deck and superstructure of a GRP boat. It is important to differentiate between a gelcoat crack and a scratch.

Essential Knots: Bowline

Essential Knots: Bowline Use: Making a secure eye or loop in the end of a rope. Bowlines have many uses on a boat, for example to make a...

Rudders and steering systems – Part 3

In the third of our three blog articles on rudders and steering systems, we look at how to replace rudder bearings and repair a water-saturated core.

Medical Emergency at Sea

How to deal with a medical emergency afloat   If you are planning a boating trip, it is important to have at least one...

Boat Engine Failure – what to check

Engine failure If your engine fails or is overheating there are a number of things to check immediately: • Air filter...

Antifouling for leisure boats – Part 4

Applying antifouling. Antifouling is best applied on a dry, calm day. It is best to apply the antifouling in the middle of the day to ensure the hull is dry and as warm as possible.

How to tackle osmosis

Many owners of old GRP boats live in fear of osmosis, but what exactly is osmosis and what can be done about it? Osmosis comes about...

Essential Knots: Sheet bend

Essential Knots: Sheet bend Use: Joining two ropes together. A sheet bend is particularly useful for joining two ropes of different...

Sector lights, directional lights, leading lights – how do they differ?

Sector lights, directional lights and leading lights guide vessels safely through hazardous waters or narrow channels at...

Steel hull maintenance

A steel boat owner’s biggest enemy is corrosion. You don’t have to worry about osmosis or rotting timbers, instead rust is the number one issue that will keep you awake at night.

Passage planning and pilotage

Passage planning and pilotage help skippers navigate safely from one port to another. A passage plan takes into account all...

Boat plumbing maintenance & troubleshooting

A boat’s fresh water system needs annual maintenance to keep it in good condition. Some boats have far more complex systems than others, with pressurised hot and cold water, associated pumps, an accumulator, calorifier and pressure valves, all to keep a boat owner busy.

Keel maintenance and repair – Part 1

Keels are designed to act as underwater foils that generate lift as the boat moves through the water, counteracting the leeward force of the wind and enabling the boat to sail closer to the wind. Keel maintenance and repair is essential for the performance of your boat.

Pre-start engine checks

According to the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) almost one third of emergency call outs at sea are caused by mechanical failure. Many engine breakdowns are avoidable. The best way to avoid a breakdown is to carry out pre-start checks before heading out to sea.

Peer to Peer yacht charter – How can you monetize your boat?

There is a growing trend in peer to peer yacht charter. How does it work? People already rent rooms, cars and bikes from one...