Spring Commissioning

Spring Commissioning by Michael Dunn …


You can make two assumptions when getting your boat ready for launch:

  1. Your To-do list will end up approximately three times longer than you expected.
  2. It’ll all take twice as long as you planned.

Both are especially likely to come true if you were not able to do a thorough de-commissioning last fall. Most boaters have a good To-do list of routine tasks before launch; for those who may not, there is a general check list for both power and sail below the signature line of this article. If you have questions, suggestions or corrections, or need help on a specific problem/situation while getting your boat ready, please e-mail your Editor and we’ll try to see if any of your fellow members have had similar situations in their experience.


Happy uncovering, cleaning, fixing and tinkering !

Michael Dunn,

E-SHALLOWS Editor Membership and Communications Officer

Shediac Squadron

CPS Squadron web site: http://www.cps-ecp.ca/shediac/




Much of this work may have been either completed or substantially advanced last fall, really the best time to do certain items.


Check for ice damage if boat/rig/gear stored uncovered (particularly mast & furling gear)

Check for rodent/bird nests in openings (mast, exhausts etc.)

Do a general cleaning of hull, deck and topsides using a mild detergent

Inspect deck for excess crazing, soft spots etc.

Make sure drains and scuppers are clear

Clean and polish all exterior metal items with a good metal polish (such as Autosol)

Clean teak and treat (oil, Cetol etc., as you find best)

Clean windows and hatches (toothpaste gets rid of minor scratches on plastic)

Clean canvas, bimini and dodger

Clean interior including bilges

While it is likely you will meet a few nuts on the water this summer, now’s the time to find out where the loose bolts, nuts and screws came from on your boat!

Check spare parts and tools and replace as necessary.

Lubricate the tools to prevent rust (WD-40)

Check and replace wiper blades if necessary

Ensure applicable registrations/licenses etc. are current and on-board

Has your insurance has been renewed?

Book a launch date with your Yacht Club/Marina Arrange for friends to help at launch

At the Yacht Club/Marina, check you have everything ready for launch, put all the pieces in a safe yet readily accessible location on the boat/in your vehicle

Before launch, install hull plugs if needed

For sailboats, have clevis pins ready to save crane time

Install long bow and stern lines to control boat when lifting

Before launch, launder and press your CPS & Shediac Squadron pennants

Pay your CPS dues!!


Check for hull abrasions, scratches, gouges, etc. and repair

Check and replace zincs

Check for blisters and repair if necessary

Check rub rails

Check swim platform and/or ladder

Inspect and test trim tabs

Check shaft, cutlass bearing, strut and prop

Check rudder and fittings (watch for rudder cracks from frozen water over the winter)

Touch up or prepare/fair bottom and replace antifouling paint

After cleaning hull apply a coat of good wax (don’t leave it too long before buffing)


Check stanchion, pulpits and lifelines for integrity, ensure base pins are installed

Check ground tackle, lines, fenders, etc.

Inspect anchor windlass and lubricate

Check cleats, bitts and chocks

Check hull/deck joint and chain plates, watch for rust indicating leaks

Check deck, windows, and port lights for leaks

Clean and lubricate winches as needed

Check and lubricate blocks, pad eyes, etc.

Check dinghy and life raft


Check, test and lubricate sea cocks (white waterproof grease)

Check condition of hoses and clamps

Make sure below waterline hoses are double clamped

Check bilge pumps for automatic and manual operation

Check for oil in bilges, where did it come from?

Check limber holes and make sure they are clear of debris

Check fire extinguishers


Check battery fluid level

Recharge batteries

Check terminals for corrosion, clean and lubricate

Check bonding system

Inspect all wiring for corrosion, wear and chafe

Test all gauges for operability

Check shore power and charger

If fused, have spares aboard

Check shore power cables

Check all lighting fixtures (including navigation lights) and ensure you have spare bulbs

Check all electronics for proper operation

Inspect antennas


As required for your boat type/size by the Canadian Coast Guard.

See CCG’s “Safe Boating Guide”.

If you don’t have the Guide it’s online at:
You can go to the address above to get it in a different language.

OR: You can download a copy “Safe Boating Guide” here (do a right click “save target as”)


Replace spark plugs if required

Change oil & filters – have spares on-board

Check and change fuel filters – have spares on-board

Empty water separator filters

Check and change engine zincs

Check cooling system, flush antifreeze, and change coolant as necessary – have extra on-board

Update engine maintenance log, especially date & hours of last oil changes

Check belts for tension & wear

Check transmission fluid

Check and clean backfire flame arrestor

Check water pump impeller

Check and clean water strainer

Check bilge blower

Check I/O bellows if applicable


Check for smooth operation – lubricate and clean as necessary

Flush out antifreeze

If equipped with treatment system, have chemicals on hand

Check Y-valve operation, label valve & secure


Flush water tank (Shock the drinking water tank using swimming pool shock, not bleach – Pool shock breaks down in a few days and then can be flushed out)

Check water system and pump for leaks and proper operation

Check that hot water tank working on both AC and engines

Check for tank cap keys on board

Check and clean shower sump pump screens


Fill propane tank, check solenoid & manual valves, check storage box vent to make sure it is clear, same for overboard drain.

Check gas detectors

Check refrigerator, clean and freshen, operate on AC and DC Clean stove, check that all burners and oven are working

Check microwave, if fitted


Replace spark plugs

Check plug wires for wear

Check prop for nicks and bends

Change/fill gear case lube (should be done in fall)

Inspect fuel lines, primer bulb and tank for leaks

Lubricate moving parts and spray interior with water repellent (though not an exceptional lubricant, WD40 is an excellent water repellent)


Ensure registration is current and available

Check that your insurance is paid

Check rollers and pads

Check and lubricate wheel bearings as required

Clean and lubricate winch Lubricate tongue jack and wheel

Test lights and electrical connections

Check tire pressure and condition

Check brakes (if equipped)

Check safety chains

Check tongue lock

Got the right size ball on your vehicle?


Check general condition

Look for wear and chafing, have re-stitched as needed

Check battens and batten pockets

Check all sail attachments

Inspect bolt rope or slugs


Check mast and spreaders (especially mast/spreader mounts) for corrosion or damage Inspect spreader boots and shrouds

Inspect rivets and screw connections for corrosion

Check reefing points and reefing gear

Inspect furling systems for damage

Check and lubricate roller furling as per manufacturer

Clean & lubricate sail track

Check rigging, turnbuckles and clevis pins for wear and corrosion

Inspect stays for fraying and “fish hooks”

Check forestay and backstay connections

Check masthead fitting and blocks

Check halyards and consider replacing or swapping end for end

Check chain plates, watch for rust indicating leaks, same for stay/shroud hull fittings

Tape turnbuckles, cotter pins, and spreaders, don’t overdo it on the tape, don’t use duct tape


Before buying a new VHF radio or GPS, learn about GMDSS

Look closely at your electrical, the single major system most neglected on our boats

How old is your rigging?

Consider gradual replacement over next 2-3 years

Consider replacing gate type sea cocks with bronze ball valves

Double up on clamps on thru hull hoses (especially below waterline)

Install high vented loop on head (especially sail boats)

Replacing appliances?

Consider a DC/AC inverter before deciding what to buy

– If your battery (ies) is (are) not secured in covered boxes, install those little boots on the positive terminals, cheap at Romeo’s Marine!

Please have a safe and pleasuable boating summer.

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