Boating season has begun! With travel restrictions in place due to Covid-19, 2020 saw a 12% increase in boat sales over the previous year.(1) After a year in lock-down, boaters are excited for Springs arrival and the start of boating season in Massachusetts. Many boaters are looking forward to relaxing cruises to picturesque Massachusetts locations such as the Boston Harbor Islands, Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket and Newburyport. Whether your pleasure boat, yacht or sailboat was in lay-up ashore or afloat, there are important steps to take to ensure your vessel is prepared for a successful boating season.
Along with our partners at Chubb Insurance (2), we offer the suggestions below to help prepare your watercraft, yacht or pleasure boat for boating this Spring and Summer.
Perform Necessary Safety Checks
Getting your boat out of lay-up provides a perfect opportunity to perform a thorough inspection of the inside and outside of your vessel. Whether a marina employee performs your inspection or you do it yourself, a comprehensive check will ensure the safety of all passengers as well as optimum performance.
- Inventory lifejackets, flares and first aid kit.
- Check to make sure the horn, anchor light, running lights, and searchlight are operating properly.
- Check fire extinguishers for expiration date and replace all batteries in smoke and CO detectors.
- Check to make sure your boat registration is current. Keep a copy of your boat insurance policy with claims department contact information on board. Your McSweeney & Ricci Private Client Risk Manager can provide you with a copy of your boat insurance policy if you cannot locate one.
- Keep an inventory of all equipment, outfitting, and personal items kept on board your vessel. A thorough inventory is vital in the unfortunate event of a loss.
Inside the Boat
- Inner Hull Fittings & Steering- Inspect strainers and make sure all seacocks operate smoothly. Operate the steering gear and inspect any hydraulic and mechanical components.
- Clamps & Hoses- Inspect all hoses and replace any that are cracked, bulging or damaged. Make sure hose clamps are free from rust and in good condition.
- Bilge Pumps & High Water Alarms- While inspecting the bilges, lift the float switches to ensure your bilge pumps and high water alarm function properly.
- Engine & Batteries- Check and replace zincs and impellers in engine and generator cooling systems. Clean battery terminals and make sure batteries are fully charged.
- Check for Leaks & Unwanted Guests- Check all deck hardware for degraded sealant and use a garden hose to check for leaks. Check the bilge, soft goods and wiring for evidence of insects or rodents and replace as needed.
Outside the Boat
- Inspect the Bottom of the Boat-Remember while working on the hull to always let yard employees move any stands and blocking. Perform a thorough inspection of all the through-hull fittings above and below the waterline and be sure all through-hulls are clear.
- Painting Prep-Remove any sacrificial zinc anodes and underwater metal parts prior to painting. Clean the metal surfaces to which they attach, then replace the zincs.
- Transducers and Running Gear-Inspect underwater transducers, check propellers and shafts for damage, inspect swim step supports, trim tabs, thruster gates and boarding ladders.
- Rudders & Steering-Check the rudders, inspect the struts that support the prop shafts, and check shaft bearings for wear.
- Outdrive Tips- Did you know that failed bellows are a major cause of sinking for outdrive-powered boats? Inspect the flexible rubber bellows between the drive and the transom carefully. Check the lower unit for oil leaks and change the oil.
- Remember the Plug- If exhaust ports in the hull were plugged prior to lay-up, remember to remove the plugs. If the hull has a drain plug, be sure it’s in place and tightly secured prior to launch.
- Launch Properly- During Spring boat yards can get very busy and are often launching several boats every hour. Make sure that you or someone who knows your boat attends the launch to check for leaks after the boat goes into the water.
- Engine & Bilge- As soon as the boat is in the water, go below deck and make sure there are no leaks. Ensure the engine seawater intake seacock is open. With engine running, check for exhaust water flow. Check the temperature gauge to make sure the engine’s cooling systems is operating.
- For Sailboats- If your mast was removed for winter storage, the yard will usually step it while the boat is in the water. Make sure all turnbuckles are secured once the rig has been tuned.
Before First Voyage
- Ship Shape- With the boat on her mooring or in her slip, carefully check everything before heading out on the water. Begin on the foredeck and work your way aft before going below.
- Change Engine Oil– Change the oil and filters even if it was done in the Fall.
- Anchors & Mooring Lines-Make sure the anchor and rode are secure properly and look over mooring lines and fenders and the mooring bridle if the boat is kept on a mooring.
- Water Tanks & Water Heater- If the domestic water and waste systems were winterized, be sure to drain and flush them. Secure any fittings that were disconnected.
- Mechanical & Electrical- Start engines and generators to warm them up. Inspect cooling, fuel and exhaust system for leaks and check battery voltage.
- Deck Safety- Be sure stanchions, wire lifelines, pulpits and ladders are secure. Make sure running and anchor lights work.
- Check Weather & Sea Conditions- Be prepared for inclement weather and varying sea conditions by checking the local forecast on com
- Be Informed of Covid-19 Restrictions-Check for any restrictions on recreational boating and fishing in Massachusetts, as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic. Depending upon which re-opening phase the state has entered at the time of your outing, you may need to practice social distancing, wear masks in public places, and there may be restrictions on passenger capacity. Visit mass.gov and be informed of any Massachusetts boating restrictions prior to your journey.
Premium Boat Insurance to Safeguard Your Adventures
Whether your vessel is a sailboat, 35’ pleasure boat, a yacht, or a mega-yacht, McSweeney & Ricci’s Private Client Group, gives you access to the best boat and watercraft insurance protection available. We’ve partnered with select insurers, (Chubb, PURE, Cincinnati, Hanover Prestige, Berkley One, and Vault) to offer broad coverage and flexible limits to protect your boat from a wide range of perils.
Our Private Client Risk Advisors work with you to customize your insurance plan to your specific needs and watercraft. Your specialized watercraft insurance plan can include:
Precautionary Measures Coverage- Covers the expense of moving your boat or yacht to safety if it’s endangered by an impending covered peril such as a hurricane.
Uninsured Boater Protection- Protects you and your guests while aboard your vessel, from an injury caused by an uninsured or underinsured boater.
Marina as Additional Insured- If you keep your watercraft at a marina, yacht club or shipyard, that facility is automatically included as an additional insured on your policy.
Our Private Client Group professionals offer expert guidance to help you avoid loss and provide you with white glove claims service, if you do experience a loss. Premium watercraft coverage ensures you, your passengers, and your crew are protected for all your adventures at sea this boating season. In Addition to watercraft insurance, allow McSweeney & Ricci’s Private Client Group to customize a complete insurance plan to include high value homeowners insurance, auto insurance, personal excess liability and cyber fraud insurance.
- 2021 National Marine Manufacturers Association, Info-Link Technologies
- Coming Out of Lay-Up Guide for Boaters | Chubb