Sunset Marina // Photo ©Elfen/Flickr.

Getting Ready for the End (of the season)

Chris Couch How-tos and Tips

Sunset Marina // Photo ©Elfen/Flickr.How far did you make it this summer? The Broughtons? Desolation Sound? Perhaps up to the San Juans, or just out to Lake Union to watch the fireworks? Seafair and the Blue Angels? As we look back on this year’s boating season and our adventures, we also need to start looking ahead to the end of the season. No matter how far or for how long, our boats got used and there are a few things we can do to properly bring the season to a close. Make a list of discrepancies and repair items that will need attention during the off-season. The following is what I recommend:

Clean out the refrigerator, freezer and pantry. Anything that has been opened and will not keep, like leftovers, must go. When they go bad, I call them science experiments.

Go through all of the drawers, cabinets, storage spaces and closets. Remove or re-organize clothes, toiletries, equipment, tools, books, papers, etc., that accumulated over the season that don’t need to be onboard or need to be properly re-stowed. There is a tendency to accumulate stuff (e.g. your garage), but you need to stay on top of that. Don’t let your boat become overloaded with things that you don’t really need. Don’t forget outside cabinets, storage areas, lazarette, and the flybridge.

Flush the head system and tank several times. Head system hoses will permeate smell over time, so the more you keep these lines flushed with freshwater the less this will happen. Thoroughly pump out and flush the holding tank to help prevent material buildup, which could cause problems later. If you get a holding-tank smell every time you flush, your tank vent filter needs to be changed.

Clean the shower sumps. Your grey water/shower sumps are probably one of the most neglected pieces of equipment on your boat. Open them up and clean them out. It will keep the smell down and will extend the life of your float switch and pump.

Clean out the bilges. Check each bilge stem to stern to ensure they are clean and dry. Again, this will help with smell and will help you diagnose system leaks, especially in the engine room and lazarette.

Check the tender. Clean out the inside and run the gas out of the engine. Drain any water from the bilge. Ensure the battery switch is turned off. Make sure the cover is on properly to keep water from accumulating inside. Remove the plug.

Do the Laundry. Gather up all dirty towels, sheets, linens, place mats, cloth napkins, etc. You do not want to leave all that stuff aboard in the off-season.

Last, but not least, take out all of the garbage and trash and give her a good vacuum and wipe down. Performing these simple end-of- the-season chores not only gets your boat cleaned up after the boating season, but it prepares her for next year or the next time you wish to use her. Think about having the annual engine, genset, systems check and any repairs done sometime during the winter in order to avoid the spring rush.

Schedule a wash at least once per month and plan to go down at least once every two weeks or so to start everything up. The best off-season maintenance you can do is to run and exercise everything every couple of weeks or so. Trust me, you’ll be glad you did!

Chris Couch

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Captain Chris Couch is a successful Pacific Northwest-based delivery captain who has been widely used by companies like Alexander Marine for the last 26 years. Couch enjoyed a 14-year career in the U.S. Coast Guard that took him around the country to the East Coast, Gulf, and West Coast on all kinds of vessels. He has been at the helm through the Panama Canal five times and for four transpacific crossings. His book, The Checklist, is enjoyed by and distributed to yachts owners and is a fantastic resource that covers just about everything relevant to a PNW Boater. You can buy The Checklist, check out his other publications, or contact him at compassheadings.com.

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