Select Page

With the boat ashore for the winter it is time to do a hull inspection – the annual checks. Are there any scratches and chips in the gelcoat? What about the rudder and keel? Are there any signs of osmosis? Do you have records and checklists to help ensure no jobs are forgotten?

All vessels and equipment need inspecting on a regular basis.  Hull inspections – the annual checks – need to be at the top of the list. The best time to do this is shortly after the boat comes ashore for the winter. This should leave plenty of time to do any necessary work while the boat is ashore. 

Hull inspection – the annual checks

It is advisable to carry out an annual inspection of the hull below the waterline on any boat to ascertain if deterioration is taking place or not. When the boat is out of the water, do visual inspections of the hull to check for distortion and hull damage.  Different hull materials have their own strengths and weaknesses, with particular things to look out for.  For example, composite hulls need to be checked for scratches and chips in the gelcoat, impact cracks and osmosis.  Aluminium and steel hulls need checking for signs of corrosion and electrolytic pitting in the plating.  Wooden hulls need checking for splits in the timbers, wet and dry rot and that the caulking is in good condition.  Defects in painted hulls can indicate problems underneath, so splits in the paintwork are often the first thing to look out for.

Keel joints

Keel joints and bolts need to be checked especially carefully.  If in any doubt ask a specialist to look at the keel. Keel bands on motor boats need a close check to ensure there is no wear in the fastenings.

Checking the rudder

Check the rudder for wear and damage, particularly the bearings which need to be checked for up and down as well as sideways play.  Transom hung rudders connect to the hull via pintles and these should be checked for wear and corrosion.

Propellers and shaft bearings

Propellers need to be checked for damage to the blades, including pitting and blade tip damage.  The shaft bearings need to be checked for up and down movement plus fore and aft movement and the bracket that supports the prop shaft also needs checking for wear.  Also check if the prop anode needs replacing to help ensure the prop stays in good condition.

Keeping records and making checklists

If in doubt when inspections and servicing should be done for your vessel a good place to start is to read instruction manuals. It is also worth contacting manufacturers and consulting your surveyor.  Then make up a plan to ensure you keep up to date with the work that needs carrying out.  Keep a record of your boat’s history.  If your boat has had several owners, get in contact with them to find out when work might have been done to the boat in the past.  You might also be able to access old surveys if you don’t already have them. While manuals may not be as entertaining as boating magazines or online forums, the information will be specific to your equipment and vessel.  As you get to know your boat you will hopefully end up with a set of rules and standards best suited to it that respect its limitations but won’t hinder your enjoyment.  There is plenty to think about. Many experienced skippers make a number of check lists to suit their vessel, to help ensure no jobs are forgotten when the boat is ashore over the winter.

Essential Knots: Figure of eight

Essential Knots: Figure of eight Use: Stopper knot, prevents a rope from being pulled through a hole e.g. through a block or...

How a propeller works

Have a look around any boatyard and you will notice quite a variety of propellers – some have two blades, some have three and others have four or more. While most propellers are completely rigid some have blades that fold.

Getting a tow for your sail or power boat at sea or on inland waterways

FREE tips from the Safe Skipper App for iPhone/iPad/Android: Getting a tow for your sail or power boat Plan how to secure a...

Boating Rules of the Road – International ColRegs

    International ColRegs Rule 7: Risk of Collision Anyone who is responsible for a vessel at sea, from the...

Boat surveys

A full boat survey assesses the condition of the hull, mechanical gear and means of propulsion. The survey is carried out with the boat...

Fire prevention on boats

  Fire prevention on boats - common causes of fire: • Smoking below decks • Galley cookers • Build-up of butane or...

Boat engine cooling systems

Some boat engine breakdowns are unavoidable but those caused by lack of maintenance or regular checks can be avoided. Failure to maintain an engine’s cooling system is a well known example of this, so it is well worth spending time checking over the cooling system both when the boat is ashore and afloat.

Tacking a sailing boat

Tacking is the sailing manoeuvre used to change a boat's direction through an oncoming wind. Tacking a sailing boat calls...

Boat maintenance log

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,...

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.

Sail care and maintenance – Part 2

At the end of the sailing season sails should be washed and inspected carefully for damage, including small tears, stitching failure, ultraviolet damage, stains and mildew.

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.

Boat ownership

Owning a boat is a big commitment that should bring no end of satisfaction for the owner as well as the owner's family and friends. In...

Boat Engine Safety Checks

  Boat Engine Safety Checks Every skipper needs to make regular essential boat engine safety checks. Below you will...

Safety Equipment Checklist for Boats

Safety Equipment Checklist for Boats   Liferaft line attached The liferaft will not work unless the trigger line is...

Sail boat rig checks – Part 1

Sailing boat rigs need to be checked regularly to reduce the risk of rig failure at sea. In part one of Sail boat rig checks we run through a series of useful checks that owners and skippers can carry out.

Understanding your boat’s compass

Article submitted by Mike Rossiter, Certificated Compass Adjuster. Since the magnetic compass was first used by the Chinese...

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.

How to cope with an emergency at sea

A safe skipper will be mentally prepared for all kinds of potential emergencies happening at sea, including medical emergencies, engine failure, fire, a holed hull, capsize and dismasting.

Wooden Hulls – Part 1

Traditional wooden boats have a plank on frame construction, a centuries old boat building method that is still in use today. Variations of the traditional method include carvel, clinker and strip planking, which all relate to the way the planking is attached to the frame.

Feeling anxious at sea

  Some people feel anxious at sea. Will they be seasick? What if they get caught in a violent storm? Could the boat...

Boat Handling – anchoring

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

Pleasure craft safety equipment recommendations

Safety equipment is an important part of boat preparation and it is advisable for all pleasure craft skippers to check their vessel is...

Distress flares – which flare, how & when to use?

How to use distress flares at sea Flares should be kept in a waterproof container in an easily accessible location such as a...

Antifouling for leisure boats – Part 3

Antifouling is one of the least pleasant boat maintenance jobs to do, but it has to be done. The very worst job of all is removing the old antifouling as this can get seriously messy and is very hard work.