The Chesapeake Bay Guide
So, youíre all caught up!
by Capt. Richard Warren S.A . Marine Surveyor
Most of us do at least some of our own maintenance and minor repairs, unless youíre one of the fortunate few that have the marina do them all.  We at least want to help and know about what is happening both below decks and above.

It usually happens to us boaters when we think we have finally fixed or updated that seemingly long list from when your boat was surveyed.  You really jumped on that list!  You know, the usual double clamp this, secure that, replace that non-marine wire nut, which must have fallen right out of the former owners head.  Youíve had your boat now about two or three years and sheís just getting into the shape you had pictured.  Buy golly sheís almost Bristol.

I have had the pleasure of knowing some of; well shall I just say very diligent, able and focused boat owners.  Unfortunately, those attributes may not be enough!  What Iím talking about here is the ongoing and nagging maintenance issues that never seem to go away. I guess thatís why they call it ďmaintenanceĒ.  How many times have you said, ďI just had that checkedĒ!  Listed below are some items that I have found over the years that have an annoying venue of never really going away: 

Check the routing of the engine hoses, both fuel and water, carefully.  If the hose is rubbing against anything sharp reroute it, a required must for fuel lines.  If you canít and itís just impossible to route an engine water hose to where it wonít chafe, wrap it with (keyword) permanent chafe protection, just rapping it in black tape wonít do.  Then secure the chafe protection so that it wonít slip off or slide down the hose.    Oh, while youíre down there be wary of some of those stainless steel hose clamps that were so bright and shiny when they were new.  Go back and check all your clamps. Iíve seen a lot of stainless clamps were just the screw is rusting, replace it.  If the hose is not squarely on, or if itís not run up the fitting all the way, trim it and reinstall it.

So far, itís been a hot summer.  For boats that have electrical loads such as air conditioners hereís something to watch for.  Your yellow shore power cord ends really need to be checked.  Itís not the power cords fault.  Letís face it; the salt air plays havoc with the outlet and power cords.   Youíve all seen the ends of someoneís shore power cord that has gotten all blackened, swollen, smoked or melted where the prongs attach.  If your power cord or outlets show signs of overheating, pay the money if you need to, you can get a new outlet and new ends for your power cord.  Itís cheap insurance.   Remember to turn off the breaker at the dock before doing anything to the shore power.  Hint:  Clean and sand the prongs on both ends then put some dielectric grease (marine or electrical store) on the prongs and keep up that regiment every few months.  The grease protects both the prongs and the metal inside the outlet from the salt air and allows a good connection.  Remember summer brown outs, as the voltage go down the amperage go up, causing more strain and heat on your shore power cord.

This is a simple one you can do regularly.  The ďOĒ ring on the deck fuel filler.  First, make sure there are only non-smokers around.  Take off the deck fuel filler and turn it over.  On most fillers there is a fuel resistant rubber  ďOĒ ring that seals the cap against the deck fitting.  If the ďOĒ ring is cracked or missing it will allow rain water into the fuel tank and that translates to a tow job on a beautiful Sunday afternoon or even worse, a cloudy dark windy Sunday afternoon.  Something else that beckons for a tow job are your batteries and battery cables.  I assume you regularly check the water in the battery. OK, youíll do it this weekend for sure, and now so will I.   The cleaning and inspection of the cables and battery is really quite simple.  Turn off the Main battery switch, disconnect the red (positive) cable first.  Check to see if there is any burned, blackened or melted areas where the cables join the cable terminals at both ends and check the routing of the cable while your there.  We donít want the cables rubbing against anything, especially a sharp engine part.   If the cable appears bad, replace it!  Itís much cheaper than a tow to say nothing of a possible fire.  Clean the battery and cable terminals with that terminal brush or use a wire brush then put some of that dielectric grease I talked about earlier on the battery terminals. Tighten them securely and remember to reinstall the terminal covers or battery box.  Check to make sure the battery is secure so that it wonít move around and possibly short out against something in the area.

These are just some of the ongoing and lets face it, easily remedied issues.  With the minimum of effort and time we can deny that call to our ever vigilant heroic tow boat operators.

Email Capt. Richard Warren

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