· Damp is the enemy of every electrical and electronic system, ensure the boat is well ventilated or installed with a dehumidifier.
· Equipment left unused for extended periods of time can become erratic in operation due to damp affecting switch contacts, internal circuit boards, signal processors or even computer chips, so regular power up checks and operation during extended idle periods can help maintain correct operation. Part of the spring check is to operate every switch and circuit breaker onboard to ensure they operate as designed.
· Switch contacts can accumulate Verdigris/ Corrosion over extended idle periods and this can create high resistance connections or even complete isolation of switch contacts. Repeatedly operate all switches and check the device being controlled to ensure it is receiving the full undiminished supply voltage and current
· Carefully check all cables and Junction boxes to ensure the cable insulation is not damaged, cables are secured to bulkheads and not showing any signs of chafing, ensure all junction boxes are securely mounted and correctly sealed and no cables or junction boxes are mounted such that they remain submerged for extended periods of time. Replace any cables or junction boxes that show any signs of damp, wear, damage or overload.
· Carefully check all electrical connections to ensure they are tight and secure against vibration, check fuses and fuseholders to ensure fuses are secure and making good contact with the cables and fuseholders and no corrosion has occurred over the winter. Add spare fuses to the boat’s spares inventory in case a fuse burns out at sea.
· If additional equipment has been added over the winter, this may now overload the original fuse or cable. If in doubt, get the local qualified engineer to check and either redistribute load or install correct cabling and fusing to safely support and protect the electrical load.
· If the mast has been un-stepped over the Winter, carefully check the cables in the mast for damage or chafing, check the masthead electrical/ electronic equipment and replace if in doubt – BEFORE the mast is re-stepped. Mast cables can stretch and fatigue over a period of time, causing random faults, replace if unsure of the condition or history of the boat.
· Check the VHF antenna and cable/plugs/connections. If poor remake. If the antenna is 7-10 years old, then consider replacing. It’s easier to pull the new cable thru the mast and fit the antenna when the mast is in the mast rack. If in doubt, ask a dealer to check VSWR reading. (Ideally before the mast is stepped).
· Check all electronic/electrical items that may need service and don’t leave it to the day you relaunch your vessel to contact your local dealer or supplier for service.
· Consider electronic chart card updates for the new season. Contact your supplier or manufacturer and do not leave to the last minute.
· Go online and check for manufacturers software updates. There could be enhancements or new features at no extra costs.
· Check normal operation of all electronic and electrical equipment onboard, a cold damp winter will highlight weaknesses in products and the first few power cycles can throw up a wide range of issues not seen before.
· Browse the handbooks prior to when the boat is being launched. Saves time calling your dealer or manufacturer on ‘how to enter a route in my chart plotter’ or ‘my instruments keep alarming and how do I stop it’.
· Plan ahead for any service work required and notify your local dealer asap so they can help book it into their busy schedule.If you need any help or advice regarding your boat, please contact a local BMEEA Member.