Spring Commissioning Your Yacht

March 21, 2019

Memorial Day is peeking around the corner, and countless yachties are preparing for the new season. Is your vessel prepped and ready to cast off? Whether you’re a do-it-yourselfer, someone who hires marine professionals to work on your yacht, or a little of both, here’s a checklist to assure your Spring Commissioning goes smoothly… 

• Conduct a visual inspection of the engine before starting it.
Are your sea cocks open? Your fuel filters should be clean without water or sediment noted in the bowl. Oil level, transmission fluid, coolant and battery conditions are all prestart checklist items you should do every day. The propulsion engine should start easily and run smoothly. Raw water cooling is confirmed when you see water run out of the exhaust. Also pay attention to your generator system to assure it is carrying a full electrical load.

• Check bilge pump and float switch to make sure it’s working properly.

• Inspect dock and anchor lines.
These may need attention if they are chafed or stiff. It’s important to keep track of how long your lines have been in use, because dock lines wear down after years of contact with the elements. If you have doubts about their strength, it’s time to get news ones. Now is also a good time to brush up on your knot tying skills and line handling in preparation for docking and casting off.

• Look over your propane stove and make sure the delivery hose has not become chafed or kinked. Test the solenoid operation, and light the stove to be sure all burners are working properly.

• Inspect all life jackets.
An inflatable life vest won’t be very effective if the cartridge is missing or the straps are worn and frayed. Check inventory as well, making sure you have the proper sizes for each passenger—including children and pets.

• Check expiration dates on flares and fire extinguishers. Replace if outdated, corroded or showing low pressure. 

• Inspect, upgrade and restock your First Aid kit.

• Make sure your boating/dinghy and fishing licenses are all up to date. 

• Conduct a sea trial.
Make your first run short, sweet and close to shore, paying close attention to the operation of your yacht. Pick a day when the boatyard is open, and the weather forecast is promising. There’s still a chance there’s something that needs service or attention—before casting off for longer voyages—and if any questions or problems arise, you can radio or use a cell phone to call for advice or assistance in trouble shooting an issue you may discover. 

• Observe how all equipment is running once underway.
This includes the shaft seals, which should not be leaking any more than they are designed to. Also, while steering, your wheel should turn easily from hard starboard to hard port and leave no trace of fluid leaks.

• Replace old charts and waterway guides.
Also, make sure the GPS chart plotter vessel icon will follow along on your course line. And if you have RADAR, don’t wait for bad weather to be certain you understand what you see on the screen.

What are your navigational needs for the upcoming boating season, and does your current policy accommodate your plans? If not, contact us at 914-381-2066 or email us at inquiries@pantaenius.com


Wishing you a memorable and safe boating season!

Information provided by Captains Chris and Alyse Caldwell, owners of Captain Chris Yacht Services, LLC, 772-205-1859; www.captainchrisyachtservices.com Both are USCG licensed 100 Ton Masters and Cruising Coaches who offer Personal Boat Training online or onboard your boat anywhere. The Caldwells also offer training videos. You can email them at chris@captainchrisyachtservices.com.