Which got me thinking - there are so many posts about how to decommission a boat for a season (I am working on one, so stay tuned!) but what about if you're just leaving for a week? What then? Here are (our)
Top 10 Things to Do When Leaving Your Boat for a Short Time:
- Clean. By now you all know I am a neat freak. There is nothing worse than coming back from a vacation to a messy place. I always make sure to clean the boat thoroughly inside and out, not only is this good for the boat - but it helps ward against bug infestations. I pour vinegar in the sinks and toilet, dust-bust the floor, clean the counters so that when we return, all we have to do is unpack and relax. I also remove the lid from the icebox to air it out. We also remove all items from deck like our kayak and seat cushions, and stow them down below. Don't forget to take out the trash either!!
- Remove all perishables. If it can spoil, it goes in the garbage. Butter, eggs, fruit, veggies...all of it. The last thing you want to come back to is a rotting mango in a fruit basket - trust me. Not pretty.
- Turn off propane. We have two propane switches in an attempt to keep our boat from going "boom". We have an electric solenoid in the boat to turn on/off our propane at the stove, and we have the gate valve on the propane tank itself. We actually turn off the solenoid inside the boat every time we're not using the stove, but when we leave - as an added precaution - we also shut off the propane at the tank. Better safe than sorry.
- Run any systems that need to be run. We'll run the engine for 15 minutes just to make sure she's in working order and we also flush our watermaker before we leave (our model needs to be flushed bi-weekly when not in use, but we flush it weekly for safe measure).
- Shut off house batteries and shore power. We shut off our house battery bank which, in effect, turns off all our systems on our boat including (but not limited to) our lights, water pump, and fans. We don't ever want to run the risk of leaving a fan or a light on for a week and/or springing a leak in a hose and having our water pump fill our bilge with 60 gallons of water while we're away. We also have a solar panel to trickle charge our batteries while we are away so, just to be safe, we shut off shore power as well. Everything goes off and we don't have to worry about draining our batteries or a power surge while we're gone.
- Set bug traps. Bugs on boats are bad. Very bad. Put a few traps to work while you are gone. This particular trip we are actually fogging our boat when we leave since we had a little run in with a cockroach a couple of weeks ago and want to nip this in the bud right away. Note: we have not seen a cockroach since the last one, so hopefully we got 'em.
- Check bilge pump. Our bilge pump is hard-wired to our battery bank so when we turn off the house bank (as in #5), our bilge pump stays on. Make sure your bilge pump is switched to the "on" position and is in working order. A simple way to check this is to fill a bucket with sea water and pour it in. If it drains, you're good to go. If not - you'd better fix it, stat.
- Close seacocks. We close the seacocks in our boat whenever we leave the boat for an extended period of time. This is increasingly important when you leave a boat in the water. Seacocks are heavy-duty valves that attach to holes under the waterline of the boat. Shutting them off ensures that you're boat doesn't fill with seawater and sink if a hose springs a leak while you are away. Not only is it good practice to exercise these frequently (they have been known to cease up), it's also good to check the hoses around them for any disrepair.
- Re-secure dock lines and halyards. It can get very, very windy here - even in the harbor. I always check dock lines before we leave and double them up where I feel they should be (stern, both bow lines, and after forward spring in particular). I make sure the fenders are in good position and that the boat is snug as a bug in a rug. I also check our halyards to make sure they are bungeed and not going to cause a ruckus while we are away.
- Lock up boat. Make sure all portholes and hatches are dogged down and locked, put the hatch boards in place and lock! You're good to go!
Brittany & Scott