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Spring Fever: PassageMaker's Recommissioning Checklist

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Maybe you don’t live in a year-round cruising paradise like our many bloggers (See our collection on cruiser blog here), but sunny days are ahead and it’s time to prep your trawler for 2016’s cruising season. Recommissioning your boat in the spring can seem like a daunting task when viewed all at once. Lucky for you we’ve broken everything down into bot-size chunks with out patented Commissioning Checklist. Just print, grab a pen (and some elbow grease) and get to it.

Spring Commissioning Checklist

Before Launch

  • Circle the hull, checking all of your through-hull fittings. Work each one back and forth until everything moves smoothly. Clean and grease any fittings that feel sticky after a long winter on the hard. Once everything opens feely, leave any seacocks or fittings in the open position before launch your boat.
  • Circle your hull once more and inspect your zincs. Replace anything that seems overly worn or corroded. Replacing your zincs now is far easier easier than after launch.
  • Examine your bottom paint for blistering, scrapes and bruises. BONUS: If you're ready to make the switch to eco-friendly paint, revisit Steve Zimmerman's March 2016 Troubleshooter column This is also an ideal time to scrub your cruiser's bottom without having to employ a diver.
  • Inspect your running gear. This might be the ideal time to scrape any marine life still attached.

After Launch


  • Check any hoses and their clamps for soft spots or signs of corrosion. Give everything a good wiggle to make sure the connections are still solid.
  • Inspect your impellers (namely the impeller fins) and replace as needed.
  • Take a good look into your fuel/water separators. Be sure to drain any water you find present.
  • Give your batteries a full charge and check the state of charge in each cell with a hydrometer. Before charging, check cables, wiring and contacts for corrosion or wear, and replace if necessary. Terminals and connections should be shiny. If not, clean with an emery cloth and coat with a liquid insulating material such as Starbrite’s Liquid Electrical Tape.


  • If you didn't before pulling your trawler for the winter, drain and flush your engine's coolant and replace with a fresh batch.
  • Check your engine's belts by applying tension using your hand. There should be a small (1/2 inch or so) amount of play. Anything more indicates a stretched belt and should be replaced. Also inspect for any fraying, splits or cracks. Replace the belts with any imperfections.
  • Change lube and transmission/lower unit oil and fuel filters if you didn’t do it while winterizing. Note: Avoid priming your fuel filters with unfiltered fuel. Use your engine’s priming pump if you have one. If not, filter enough fuel to fill the canister by pouring it through a spare.
  • As a last step, fire-up your engines. Head below and ensure you haven't spring and leaks. Keep an eye out for any smoke of suspicious smells. Follow the same steps for your generator.

Living Spaces:

  • Give your living spaces a good scrub and a vacuum. Be sure to remove and clean beneath the carpets for any mold or growths. Nothing makes life worse than a smelly living space.
  • Give your bilges and any stale compartments a good hosedown.
  • Refresh any blistered or faded vanished areas if need.
  • Pro tip: If your stored any gear aboard for the winter bring it out and give everything a good dose of sunshine.

Of course, cap everything off with a thorough cleaning and you’ll be ready for your home dock and distant harbors in style. Here’s to 2016 - happy cruising!