Chesapeake Marine Surveyors
Marine Surveying & Consulting
Chesapeake Marine Surveyors, Silver Spring, Maryland - Richard L. Warren, SAMS® AMS® Silver Spring, Maryland
Office/Mobile: 240 472-5128

Richard L. Warren, SAMS® AMS®
Principal Marine Surveyor

Serving The Chesapeake Bay Area &
The East Coast of the USA
Worldwide Service Available

Published Articles
The following article was published in Nor'ester and in the Bay Guide.

So, you're all caught up! -
Capt. Richard Warren SAMS® AMS®. Marine Surveyor

Most of us do some of our own maintenance and minor repairs, unless you're among the fortunate few that have the marina do them all. You don't need to be a professional to prevent these small problems from becoming large, expensive, or even dangerous headaches.

You think you've finally fixed and updated that seemingly long list from when your boat was last surveyed. You really jumped on that list too! You know, the usual double clamp this, secure that, and replace the former owner's wire nut, he so naively got you into trouble with. You've had your boat now about two or three years and she's just getting into the shape you had pictured. By golly, she's almost Bristol!

I have had the pleasure of knowing some well, shall I just say, very diligent, able and focused boat owners. Unfortunately, those attributes may not be enough! What I'm talking about here are a few of the ongoing and nagging maintenance issues that may never seem to go away. I guess that's why they call it "maintenance". How many times have you said, "I thought I already took care of that!"? Listed below are some issues that seem to continue over the years, with an annoying venue of never really going away:

So far, it's been a hot summer. For boats that have electrical loads such as air conditioners, here's a must to watch for. Your yellow shore power cord ends really need to be checked. Let's face it; the salt air plays havoc with the marina outlets and your shore power cords. You've all seen the ends of someone's shore power cord that has either burned or has blackened, swollen, smoked or melted plugs where the prongs attach. It's not the power cord's fault. If your power cord or outlets show signs of overheating, pay the money if you need to, and get your marina to install a new outlet and you can put new ends on your power cord if needed. It's cheap insurance. Remember to turn off the breaker at the dock before doing anything to the shore power. Hint: Clean, and sand, if necessary the prongs on both ends, then put some dielectric grease (marine or electrical store) on the prongs and keep up that regimen 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 brownouts too. As voltage goes down, amperage goes up, causing more strain and heat on your shore power cord. Monitor the shore cord to see if it's overheating during heavy loads.

Check your engine hoses too, both fuel and water, carefully for tightness and routing. If the hose is rubbing against anything sharp, reroute it. Fuel lines must be routed so that no chafing occurs, none! If it's impossible to route a water hose to where it won't chafe, wrap it with (keyword) permanent chafe protection. Wrapping it with black tape just won't do. Making sure to secure the chafe protection so that it won't slip off or slide down the hose, I like using nylon electrical tie wraps. Oh, while you're down there, be suspicious of those stainless steel hose clamps that were so bright and shiny when they were new. Go back and check all your clamps. I've seen a lot of stainless clamps where just the screw potion of the clamp was rusting because it was not a marine grade clamp. Replace them. If a hose is not squarely on, or not all the up on the fitting, trim it and fully reinstall it. If it's below the waterline, make sure you use two clamps.

This is a simple one you should do regularly. The "O" ring on the deck fuel filler. First, leave you smoking friends ashore when you check this. Take off the deck fuel filler and turn it over. On most fillers there is a fuel-resistant neoprene rubber "O" ring that seals the cap against the deck fitting. If the "O" ring is cracked or missing it will allow rain water to leak into the fuel tank and that translates to a tow job on a beautiful Sunday afternoon or even worse, a dark cloudy windy Sunday afternoon. Something else beckoning for a tow job are your batteries and battery cables. I assume you regularly check the water in the battery if they are the (lead/acid) flooded cell type. OK, you'll 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 and your battery charger. Disconnect the red (positive) cable first. Check to see if there are 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. You don't want the cables rubbing against anything, especially a sharp engine part. The starter circuit is usually not fused, so be vigilant. If a cable appears bad, replace it! It's much cheaper than a tow to say nothing of a possible fire! Clean the battery and cable terminals with a terminal brush or a wire brush and 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. Make sure the battery is secure so that it won't shift around and possibly short out against something during a rough sea.

These are just some of the easily remedied maintenance issues. With the minimum of effort and time we can avoid that call to our ever vigilant heroic tow boat operators.

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