Are you ready for Spring? Electrics and Electronics

Lighter evenings are back and the sun has returned, albeit infrequently which means it’s time to get ready for Spring. Here are some tips to get you started:

  • Check the Shore power connections, inspect the cable and sockets, look for frayed cable, damaged insulation, corroded/ burnt pins and sockets, damaged external fittings and replace as required.
  • Test shore power functionality, use your local qualified marine Electrical engineer to test the AC installation to ensure the reverse polarity protection and earth leakage protection functions correctly.
  • Test all lighting fixtures, cabin lights, decklights, instrument lights etc. replace burned out bulbs and damaged fittings. Store spare bulbs onboard.
  • Make sure that vhf and GPS antennae are secure, in good condition and antenna cable is undamaged.
  • Bilge pumps should be inspected for proper automatic and manual operation. Check float switches, cables, connections and filters to ensure correct operation.
  • Check all drive belts for tension, fraying, and wear, also check that all belts are aligned properly and that no belts are slipping. These may include an engine water pump, alternator drive, fresh water pump and possibly any autopilot drives.
  • Check that the bilge ventilation blower is correctly operating and ventilating gasses from bilge areas and engine room.
  • Check and replace zinc anodes if necessary, they guard against galvanic corrosion that can quickly destroy underwater metals like your rudder or outboard.
  • Check lubber line alignment and deviation of both the main steering compass and electronic compasses (eg heading references for autopilot) so they give accurate bearings and headings.  Ensure that equipment installed over the winter period is not located where it can affect the safe and correct operation of the compass sensors.
  • Ensure that the radar reflector is functioning correctly, if you do not have one, consider having one fitted, this ensures that your boat is more visible on other radars.
  • Check the batteries, if removed for safe keeping over the winter, fully charge them and refit back onboard – if you are unable to do this, ask your local approved and qualified marine electrician to do this. For a list of BMEEA members able to assist please visit the BMEEA dealer locator.  Batteries left uncharged for long periods will need to be replaced completely.
  • Inspect battery terminals for corrosion. If they appear corroded, clean them and protect with an inert protectant like Vaseline/ petroleum Jelly
  • Check the water level of the boat’s batteries (to include bow thruster battery if separate). If water levels are low, add distilled water to maintain battery’s performance – NOT TAP WATER that will diminish battery performance.
  • Ensure battery storage is clean, is not corroded, is well ventilated, and that batteries are secured firmly in place with metal or fabric straps that are strong enough to prevent the batteries becoming dislodged in rough weather.