So What Now? Three Great Fall Projects

Written by Capt. Juan Watson

It is time for the majority of us in the North East to winterize our vessels and hopefully look back fondly on our summer on the water. So, what now…?

If you’re planning to lay your vessel up for the winter, I have three simple items below that no one wants to do in the summer season, but seldom find the time to do in the times of spring preparations. These items often get neglected or folks take them for granted. Fall is a great time to get these done so in the spring one just has to dust off the cobwebs and get on the water!


For many of us this is an often used yet largely neglected part of vessel. So here a few things to help prolong this gear:

• Start by emptying the chain or rode out of the anchor locker, flake it on the ground and give it a good rinse and remove the “muck” and salt. One might consider a thorough clean and even a coat of paint while the chainlocker is empty

• If your chain/rode depth markings are fading or you do not have any it is a good time to do so. Decide on a color or color sequence to represent each measured length and remember what each one is. A laminated card on the underside of the chain locker hatch can be helpful.

• Check that your swivels and shackles are still on good shape and they are “moused” so that you do not lose that expensive new anchor

• Strip down your windlass (see your user manual) to clean off old grease and replace with new fresh grease. Visually inspect, tighten and barrier coat (with a water repellant) your power supply terminals to prevent corrosion


With the boat out the water, what better time than to have a look at your seacocks and associated plumbing. Some brands are maintenance-free and only require to be “exercised” by opening and closing. Certain models can be serviced so first, find out if it can and if not, follow manufacturers’ recommendations for maintenance. A few other parts to examine:

• All hoses attached to the seacocks are best served to be double clamped (2 hose clamps). Check the condition of these clamps and replace if severely corroded and ensure all are tight.

• Check hose for cracking or other signs deterioration. If in doubt change it out.

• Ensure the bonding wire and the terminal used to attach it to the seacock is in good order. Give it a little tug to test it is snug on the seacock and terminal is securely crimped to the wire

• For added safety I strongly recommend having bungs/tapered plugs within a foot of the seacock. These cone shaped wooden bungs/plugs are in case you seacock fails. These wooden bungs are then wedged into the opening of the seacock to stop the ingress of water. As a side note do not leave them in a wet bilge, keep them dry.


Evaluate the condition of your safety gear. Is it expired, damaged or inadequate? Here are a few suggestions to consider:

• Remove lifejackets from the boat. Have a look at them and see if there are any rips or tears and if so, I strongly suggest replacing it. Additionally, if the jacket is wet and shows signs of dirt and grime, give it a light scrub and then put in a spot where it can dry for the winter (preferably not back in the dirty wet locker!)

• Check the dates on your pyrotechnics (flares) if they have expired replace them with newer ones. Please ensure you dispose of old flares (call your local USCG base)

• If you happen to have a life raft check the date for service. If it happens to fall during the summer months rather get it done between now and spring so that it is available when you need it

• Have a look at your portable fire extinguishers to check the charge on them is still good. If the charge is not, replacement is usually more cost effective. If you have a fire suppression system in your engine room, that should be inspected and tested by an approved fire equipment company

These three items are not going to involve a huge amount of time or money, but they are and will be necessary to you and your passengers on board safety. Stay warm and good luck!
Juan Watson is a 14-year mega yacht veteran. Currently, he owns and operates Pelorus Yacht Consulting, LLC in Annapolis, MD. PYC focuses on educating yachtsmen and owners.