Finally, it’s starting to feel like spring here in Guilford; a mild winter gave way to an unseasonably cold spring but it finally feels like it’s time to get the boats back in the water. Many of our customers hire us to provide seasonal service so we’re busy prepping boats and providing re-commissioning services. It’s a very important part of the boating process – a misstep in the re-commissioning process can make for an expensive and inconvenient repair down the road. We know that many boaters ready their vessels on their own so we thought we’d share a bit of our expertise on the subject.
One caveat – this is not an all-encompassing process for every boat out there. There are many types of vessels, many types of engines and many different situations. The first bit of advice: check your specific owners and service manuals. And make sure you (or somebody you know) understands what they are doing. If you are uncomfortable, contact our yard as we have significant experience in this area and will do everything we can to fit you into our schedule.
Spring re-commissioning is directly related to the steps you undertake when winterizing your engine and boat systems. The more you do or have done for winter de-commissioning, the more likely that systems which worked just fine last fall will function properly in the spring. As a reminder and the beginning of your spring pre-launch activities, here is the list of tasks which should have been completed prior to winter storage:
- Engine oil & filter changed
- Fuel filters replaced
- Fuel tank stabilized (filled or empty)
- Outdrive or lower unit oil changed
- Outdrive unit removed for inspection and/or servicing
- Battery serviced, removed and charged for the winter season
- Battery cleaned, fully charged and cables removed, wire tied and marked as positive and negative leads if left in boat
- Lube shifting cables and steering systems
- Shrink wrap or boat cover with large vents, to prevent mold for forming inside the cover.
The first step is to charge all batteries and install them, clean the terminals and cable ends. If you have wingnuts, this is a good time to consider replacing them with stainless steel lock nuts to prevent the cables from loosening up. Coast Guard regulations require that batteries be properly secured and battery posts covered.
Now that the batteries are in place, inspect and check operation of all electrical items and electronics. Test helm and cabin switches and note anything that is not working properly. One key test: turn off the battery switch (if equipped) and ensure the automatic bilge pump float switch is working.
Next, if you have water systems onboard you will have to remove the antifreeze and, if antifreeze was introduced into the fresh water tank, it should be flushed out prior to connecting the pump and flushing the water lines. There are commercial products available to disinfect the water system; follow the directions carefully. Pressurize the system and open each faucet/shower head one at a time until clean water flows. If you have them, don’t forget the transom or anchor wash faucets.
Once you are done with water systems, it’s time to move onto the engine room or compartment. Visually inspect everything to make sure there hasn’t been any hose breaks; cracks or rodent damage (this is common – mice love chewed plastic and rubber for nesting). Check the engine oil level and inspect the bilge area for fluid leaks. Check the coolant level, the power steering fluid and the transmission/lower unit or outdrive oil. A visual inspection of all fuel lines for external cracking and flexibility should be performed. As a rule of thumb, we service engine seawater pumps every other season to ensure they are in good condition. When doing this, be sure to grease the attaching hardware so it will come off two years from now.
Prior to moving to engine start-up, depending upon your familiarity with the engine, it might be a good opportunity to read the operator’s manual to assure you understand the proper start procedure. If you will be running on the hose, install the ear muffs or water hook up. Again make note: there are some engines where you will need to supply water in more than one location and this will be a very expensive mistake.
Check the engine control cables for condition and operation; place the shifter in the neutral position and check the safety/kill switch. Please make note: on any engine with an electric fuel pump, you must prime the fuel system prior to turning the key as dry running an electric fuel pump will severely damage it internally.
You are now ready to start your engine. When it starts, there will probably be some smoke that clears from the exhaust; this is the fogging oil from winterizing and will coat the spark plugs. Check for oil pressure if you have a dash gauge, then go to the engine and look for water running from the exhaust. If you see none, stop the engine immediately and recheck your hose connections. Once water is flowing, run just above an idle speed. Check your dash gauges to confirm proper operation. Back in the engine area, inspect with a flashlight for any for fluid leaks under the engine and listen for any exhaust noise such as loose belts or hoses. Take care when doing this and keep clear of the engine.
Other checks to make at this point include the steering system for tightness or looseness, ensure the propeller is clear and shift into forward, neutral and reverse; listen and feel for anything abnormal. Shut down the engine using the safety stop lanyard (if equipped) to ensure it is working and then turn off the ignition key. Remove it and do one final inspection of the engine area. Raise the engine or drive and listen for any strange sounds from the trim – tilt system. Ideally, a complete servicing of the ignition system should be performed to ensure the engine is running at its best.
Now that you are done with the vessel interior, inspect the exterior of your boat and the boat trailer. Replace any plugs you may have removed. Wash (or power-wash if you are in a place where it’s appropriate) then add a new coat of bottom paint and a couple of coats of wax and you should be ready for the season.
As a reminder, we here at Brown’s Boatyard have going through this procedure hundreds (if not thousands) of times and we know exactly what we’re doing. If you are uncomfortable with the re-commissioning process it might make sense to hire us to do it. As the old adage goes, you can pay us now or you can pay us later. And paying us later is usually a lot more expensive. Happy boating!
Here at Brown’s Boatyard, we are proud to be a provider of ValvTect marine-grade diesel and gasoline. When you consider your options in marine fuel, think about this: your boat’s engine operates at higher RMPs and loads than your car or truck engine. Also, your marine engine can consume up to ten times more fuel per hour of operation than an automotive engine. Finally, marine engines are also more susceptible to phase separation, corrosion and fuel stability problems caused by ethanol-blended gasoline.
So the question is, why would you consider anything other than marine-grade fuel for your boat? And, when considering marine-grade fuel, why would you consider an average fuel? This is why we are so pleased to be a supplier of ValvTect marine fuel.
ValvTect marine gasoline is specially formulated for marine engines and is designed to prevent the problems of ethanol gasoline, such as phase separation, moisture, poor stability and the formation of power-robbing carbon deposits. It requires no additional fuel additives to protect your engine, which eliminates any risk of improper additive use. In addition, it saves time and money.
Some additional features and benefits in using ValvTect Marine Fuel:
Fuel Dock Hours
Our fuel dock is open Monday through Friday from 8:00 am to 4:30 pm. During the off-season, the fuel dock is closed on Saturday and Sundays. Inclement weather may stop us from being there so please call in advance to assure we can fuel you up in the off-season: 1 (203) 453-6283.
If you haven’t been to Brown’s Boatyard via land lately, you are in for a surprise. As many know, our boatyard was inaccessible during fuller high tides. The state has rectified that and are putting the finishing touches on a project to raise Chaffinch Island Road by about four feet.
Read more about the project here
Hello there. Well, the West River is no longer frozen, the Ospreys are back and it’s got all of us here at Brown’s Boat Yard very excited and working hard to get the marina and your boats ready for the upcoming boating season.
It also feels like a good time to ask, “How are we doing”? What has your experience been like with our boat yard? Are there any services we could provide that might provide value to you, our customers? We’re happy to hear any ideas or suggestions you might have and would kindly request that you submit them in the comments area at upper right.
Something else that might help us with our marketing is to hear what we are doing well. You know that old expression, “If you don’t like what we’re doing, tell us. If you like what we’re doing, tell somebody else”? Well, we’d like to make that a bit easier for you so if you have a few kind words you’d like to share about your experience with Brown’s Boat Yard, please submit them via our email address.
OK – time to get back to work. We’ll see you very soon.
Dave and Hank
Length Over-All Policy
Vessels are measured “Length Over-All.” LOA measures the Over All Length to include bow pulpits, davits, dinks, swim platforms and engines.
Haul & Launch Policy
All hauls require 24-hour notice. Hauls done on shorter notice are subject to additional fees as outlined on our current rate sheet. No hauls are done on weekends or holidays unless done as an emergency.
Any boat not scheduled to be launched by June 10th will be charged $12.00 per foot per month.
General Yard Policy
All bills will be due and payable upon receipt. A service charge of 1.5% per month, 18% annually, will be added to all past due accounts.
The yard is not responsible for loss due to fire, theft, vandalism, storm or ice and owner agrees to hold the yard and its owners and employees harmless in the event of such loss. Owners shall maintain insurance coverage.
Boats that do not dock at Brown’s Boatyard will have 1 day of dockage without cost after launching. If the boat needs to be hauled, a short haul fee will be assessed. Boats launched after June 1st must arrange for any dockage as available.
If docking at Brown’s Boatyard, the contract is non-transferable. Any owner who sells his/her boat must notify the yard within five days in writing. Notification must include name, address and phone number of the new owner. In the event the yard is not able to secure a contract with the new owner within ten days of notification, arrangements to remove the boat must be made under this contract. This does not mean there will be additional charges.
Outside contractors may be allowed to work in the yard with the approval of the yard manager. They must show proof of insurance (GL $1,000,000). There will be a $95 per day overhead fee or 15% of total job charged for the use of the yard.
Our crew’s skills are impressive. When in doubt, we hire out; meaning we also use very talented senior specialist when our crew is at full workload capacity or when there is a requirement so specific and so narrow that it warrants a specialist.
Estimates may not be free. The fee paid for an estimate will be deducted from your final bill for service work performed associated with the estimate, provided the work is ordered within seven days of the estimate.
Deposits: Work orders over $2,000 may require a deposit. The size of the deposit depends on the complexity of the project, the cost of the work order parts and the project’s duration.
Owners are responsible for the removal and replacement of drain plugs, checking the mast (condition of rigging, lubrication, etc.) providing proper dock lines and fenders prior to launch. Boats not “ready to launch” may be delayed and/or charged for time to make ready.
DIY – “Do It Yourself”
We welcome mariners who possess the requisite skill, knowledge and tools to undertake specific projects. DIY has a very literal translation; it means that a boat owner will undertake certain projects by themselves without any outside labor, consultation or engineering required. Kindly file with the office your work plan.
Strict adherence to our environmental policy is an absolute. Please address how you intend to meet these requirements in your work plan. No burning of paint or operation of stoves is allowed. All bottom sanding must be done with a Dustless Sanding System approved by the yard. Tarps must be placed under all open paint and solvent cans. No paints or solvents may be placed in our dumpster. Areas around boats must be kept clean. Ladders left in the yard must be locked to boats. No covers may be tied to stands or blocking.
The crew at the yard is available on a time and material basis to help you with more difficult tasks. Please schedule your requirements with the office for the week that you think the project will need our help.
Brown’s Boatyard and its crew do not loan tools, or ladders.
For the months of July and August, Brown’s Boatyard offers a mid-summer quick haul special. The special includes a quick-haul, power wash and bottom inspection all for $10/foot. Normally priced at $14/foot ($10 for the haul and $4 for the wash and waste-water disposal), our mid-summer haul out is perfect for power boaters seeking a bit more fuel efficiency or sailors looking for that extra 1/2 knot of hull speed (sail boats are $12 per foot).
Call us at 1 (203) 453-6283 to reserve a spot.
It’s Friday afternoon at 3 and two more projects just landed on your desk with the hope (read demand!) that they be finished before the weekend. Your expected arrival time at the marina has just shifted to 30 minutes before sunset and any hope for a sunset cruise has been dashed by the sudden realization that you’ve got about 90 minutes worth of boat chores before you can leave the marina.
The holding tanks need to be pumped. You need to top off the water tanks. The anchor line has a knot that must be removed. And the topsides need to be washed down. Your hopes for a lovely cruise have quickly given way to more stress.
But fear not, intrepid skipper. Brown’s Boat Butler service is here to save the day. Let us know when you want to leave the marina and we’ll make sure all the prep work is done so you can step on and cast off. The list of tasks we can tackle is tailored to every boat and captain but here are some things we can handle to make sure you’re ready to shove off as soon as you and your crew arrive at the marina:
- Top-off fuel tanks
- Fill water tanks
- Empty holding tanks
- Remove boat covers
- Wash decks and seating
There are many other things we can do to get you off and running easily and conveniently. Contact us today to learn more – 1 (203) 453-6283.
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