Getout BoatingGet your ship in shape

Published on Thu, Apr 20, 2006 by arol Hogan

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Get out Boating
Get your ship in shape

By Carol Hogan

The first day of spring was nearly a month ago but nobody reminded Mother Nature and she’s just catching up this week, which means that if you haven’t already scheduled your boat’s spring maintenance and tune-up now’s the time to do so, especially since opening day of cruising and racing season is two weeks away on May 6.

What exactly is spring maintenance? It can be anything and everything to buff your boat, but if you’re new to the game here are five tips from Dave Rasmussen, owner of Western Yacht Systems in Blaine Harbor, and information from Bob Brooks, president of Blaine Marine Services (Blaine and Semiahmoo) to get your boat ready for summer fun.

“We do a wide range of service for all sizes of boats – power and sail,” Rasmussen said. “We do electrical, mechanical and heating systems. We do fiberglass, as far as bow thrusters, stabilizer systems, hydraulics; almost anything that goes wrong on a boat or needs to be installed or added, and we do a lot of general maintenance.
“We have customers who have us do all their work, including haul outs, and we do a lot of general maintenance and spring tune-ups.” Rasmussen said.

What does Rasmussen consider the most important spring maintenance job?

“Clean the bottom of your boat and your prop before you take it out,” Rasmussen said. After sitting in the slip for a winter “the props get fouled, the hardware underneath gets fouled, even the bottom paint, if not maintained, will get barnacles and mussels on it and the boat just won’t perform. Overloading will actually ruin the engine if you try to make it get up to speed, particularly a gas engine.

If the props have even a handful of barnacles on them, its enough drag where the engine will lose over half its power,” Rasmussen said. “Skippers go out, hit the throttle wide open, the boat coughs and gasps and the engine is overloaded so badly it literally melts down.”
Rasmussen cites four other important considerations for spring maintenance:
• Batteries: Make sure you’ve got good batteries, because over the winter the batteries can deteriorate to the point where they don’t have any capacity left and you want to be sure they’re working when you need them.
• Gasoline. The formulations have changed and gasoline doesn’t hold octane well any more, it drops off in a few weeks. When boaters go out with old gas, the octane is so low the engines are detonating and pinging and with all the other noise around, they don’t notice it. Rasmussen recommends taking it easy at first using half-power only. When the tank is half full, top it off with a good grade of gas. Better yet, add stabilizer to the gas tank when you close up the boat in the fall.
• Safety Equipment. Make sure all your pumps and switches are working. Check your flares, fire extinguishers, and lifejackets, not only for Coast Guard regulations but in case you get caught in an early storm and need to be assured all the systems are working.
• Bilge and lockers. Start the season with a clean bilge so if you have a problem you can spot it. If you’re dripping diesel or oil you’ll able to see it, but if your bilge is black and disgusting from last year, you’ll never notice it. Stay on top of it and if you have a problem you’ll catch it. Clean out lockers and remove and reorganize equipment so you know what you have.

Unanticipated problems make a good case for pulling your boat out of the water and checking it thoroughly, as Blaine Sea Scout skipper Angus Pratt learned firsthand last December. What Pratt thought would be a short stay in the yard at Bellingham’s Colony Wharf has become a four-month odyssey, shepherding his scouts through a major haulout that began with scrubbing the hull of their donated Erickson 26 sailboat Luna Sea in preparation for summer cruising in the San Juan Islands.

“When the boat came out of the water we scraped almost 50-pounds of barnacles, seaweed, and even anemones, off the bottom of the boat,” Pratt said. “It hadn’t been hauled out for about seven years,”
“When it came out it was going to be a quick clean, throw some paint on it and deal with a couple of little issues I knew existed,” Pratt said. “After Matt Harris did a marine survey there were a lot more issues that needed to be dealt with including re-rigging the entire boat. It’s been a bit of a challenge putting it all together and getting it done.”
If you’ve been putting off hauling out you’d better make arrangements right away. Bad winter weather slowed down work at lots of yards including the Blaine Marine Services yard in Semiahmoo.
As the saying goes “the devil is in the details,” and ultimately, it’s up to individual boat owners to pay attention to them, then have the various boat services around town fine tune them. The following businesses provide such services:

Western Yacht Systems: 332-2715 or Blaine Marine Services at 332-3324 in Blaine or 371-5711 in Semiahmoo. Hours are Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and on weekends by appointment.

Blaine Marine Services: In Blaine at 199 Marine Drive and in Semiahmoo at 9540 Semiahmoo Parkway. Hours are Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Blaine. The Semiahmoo office is open Monday through Sunday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Also, the Blaine branch of Blaine Marine Services will be celebrating the re-opening of their newly renovated store with a sale, clearance on small boats and barbecue on Friday and Saturday, April 28 and 29 from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.