Some top tips from Simon Oatley, a valuable member of Thornham marina now the Operations Manager at our sisiter site Tragalgar Wharf. Simon recently married Jeanette the manager of Thornham marina. He recommends that while your vessel is ashore for the winter there are several things that should be checked and serviced for a problem free season the following year.
Seacocks - look at them from the outside and check the condition of the through-hull skin fittings. If they are bright and shiny you have a problem with electrolysis, this needs to be dealt with otherwise they will eventually break off. Next go inside and check they all operate correctly and easily. The more modern ball type valves are fairly maintenance free but do sometimes get stiff with marine growth if not opened and shut regularly. They can often be freed up, if stiff, by someone standing outside spraying WD40 (other brands also available) into the fitting while you work the valve back and forth from the inside. Also check the handles on these valves as they are prone to rusting and usually break off at the wrong time. The older Blakes type valves need to be stripped down and serviced correctly each year to avoid them jamming. Also check for signs of weeping from the valves and hose clips as this is a sure sign of trouble to come! Finally, check that each through-hull fitting has a wooden bung of the correct size tied to it, so if something does go wrong you can plug the hole quickly.
Stern glands - as important as the seacocks preventing water coming in around the propeller shaft. Many these days are of the maintenance free rubber type. Check around the area for signs of drips, if in doubt replace these immediately as when they go, they go, and you may not even be on board at the time. Older styles, with gland packing in, are maintenance intensive and should be checked and greased each winter. If the packing is hard replace it.
Yachts with sail drives should check where the drive leg goes through the hull. There is a large seal or doughnut which can perish over time, especially if in contact with rust, so keep the area clean.
Motor boats with outdrives should also be checked around the transom seals and bolts for signs of weeping and drips.
Propellers and shafts should again have a visual inspection. Shiny bits or pitting indicate electrolysis problems which should be dealt with. Most vessels with propeller shafts will have a cutlass bearing to help support the shaft, these should be checked for wear as, if excessive it will cause a lot of vibration and may even damage the shaft.
Finally anodes - if they are more than 50% gone replace them. You probably won’t see them again for a year and if they go during the season you could end up with an expensive bill next winter.