Many of you have been enjoying your warmer weather up North, but as fall quickly approaches you will be heading to your Southwest Florida vacation home! There are many things to take into consideration before you just hop in the boat and take off. The boat has been sitting for quite a while and we'll need several systems check reviewed to ensure you are ready for season.
100-Hour or Annual Service of the Motors
This can be done at a dealership or also a certified mobile mechanic. When using anyone please be sure OEM parts are used to be compliant with your manufacturer warranty. Be sure to inquire about any open service bulletins or recalls for your serial numbers. Do not assume those are being looked at automatically.
I come from up North and always thought that the cold was hard on the batteries. Come to find out, the heat takes its toll on your boat's battery much worse. I generally see them lasting about 3 years in the Florida heat and that is when they're properly maintained with fluid level, charged, and conditioning when not being used. It's not to say they can last longer than 3 years but if you're putting a lot of faith, it will help maintain the lifespan of your battery. Offshore guys, I suggest you change them out for how cheap they are to prevent any kind of issue. If you plan on keeping the battery please ensure they are fully charged and then have a load test performed to confirm proper functionality.
Be Sure all the Required Safety Equipment is on Board and Up-to-Date
I can't stress this enough. If you notice from previous blog posts, safety equipment is mentioned every time. Regulations change, things expire, equipment is borrowed or loaned out, etc. Go to your FWC and USCG websites to confirm you're compliant with the most recent requirements based on the length of your vessel. Please note that 26 ft is a big cut-off for different requirements of local boats in our normal size range.
There are many other things to include here, however, a proper Shakedown Cruise is absolutely in order before any service appointment. Touch every single switch, hatch, light, pump, and electronic feature. Take a screwdriver and tighten every screw that you can find. This also includes every electrical terminal and busbar, following up with a corrosion guard. This Shakedown Cruise is important as it will help you build your punch list to have things diagnosed and repaired before your service appointment.
Let a Professional Captain Help You
One of the biggest tips I can offer up is to have all of the above performed before you arrive. A captain can perform the above and help you build your list, take it to the service appointment, confirm repairs were completed properly, and deliver it back home before you even make it back to Southwest Florida. This allows you to maximize your boating time while down here versus jockeying back and forth with trying to tackle all of these items with the boat as there may be just as many with the house and car. Allow a professional to take over this task so you can play and enjoy the Waters of Southwest Florida!