Boat Maintenance

Checks to keep your boat operating smoothly

Much like a car engine your boat engine needs general maintenance to make sure that everything is in working order. Below you will find some checks that are recommended by our engineers.

General checks

Monthly checks

Annual checks

Checking for Frost Damage – Checking your cooling system before cruising

The freezing temperatures in December and January may be gone, but should not be forgotten as they can result in split or fractured pipes. Whist seeming basic, the effects of a split or fractured pipe can be catastrophic on a boat leading to complete or partial flooding over a gradual period. If the pipe in question relates to a cold or hot water system on the boat the consequences will not be as severe as a raw freshwater cooling system with metal pies. A split and flooding here will almost certainly lead to sinking if not spotted and may not be covered by insurers as not all cover frost damage, or gradual incursion of water. If covered insurance polices normally insist that machinery is winterised according to manufacturers recommendations if not available then the advice of a qualified engineer should be sought, but to take no precautions is just asking for trouble.

Just like cars any closed loop cooling system needs to have antifreeze added and replaced (per manufacturers guidelines) Not only will this minimise the risk of splits or fractures associated with freezing water, but it will also improve the cooling efficiency of the engine and minimise corrosion risk to the engine.

Where raw water (drawn from the river) cooling systems are in place these should be properly drained down by briefly running the engine when out of the water to ensure the system is empty what do you do if left afloat? RCR recommends that the quickest and simplest solution is to shut off the inlet valve (seacock) and then drain as much water from the system as possible, where there is not a drain plug available, disconnect a hose drain the water from the system and leave disconnected, although this will not empty the system completely it will allow for expansion should the water freeze and therefore reduce the risk of ruptured pipes. If there are any tight bends which are accessible it is also worth insulating as this is where fluid will collect even after draining. you will need to reconnect any pipes and refill the system and open the seacock once you are ready to start cruising again).

For heating systems and fresh water tanks these should be drained and where possible taps left in an open position to allow for expansion if any water is still in the system.

Ensure that the engine and its controls are clearly marked if the engine is winterised or seacock’s closed.

If such precautions have not already been taken then they should be implemented ASAP to reduce the risk of expensive repair costs and possible sinking. Prior to cruising, or if you want to check system owners should run their engines up to running temperature if a gauge is available onboard or run for approx 1/2 hr to get the system up to running temperature and then check every inch of the cooling system for leaks or escaping steam and have a qualified engineer attend immediately should one be found.

If you would like information on anything mentioned above or would like the advice of an RCR engineer please do not hesitate to contact us on 01785 785680.