I never know what to expect when I drop by North Atlantic Marine Services in Wareham, Massachusetts. This time around, co-owner John Bernier was stripping down a 30-foot center console, providing a great opportunity to review some important points of inspection that many boaters overlook. Here are the items covered in the accompanying video:
As John was replacing the boat’s through-hull fittings and valves, he discovered a nasty, soggy mouse nest between the liner and the hullside. Rodents can cause a lot of expensive damage to a boat, especially the wiring, as they like to nibble on the plastic insulation. While there’s no foolproof way to keep these critters from invading your boat, a tight shrinkwrap job can help. You might also consider placing mouse poison or traps inside the boat during winter layup. Just remember to remove them come spring.
The fuel vent is another overlooked problem spot on many boats. A damaged vent can allow water to enter the fuel system, either by wave action or rain being driven into the vent opening. An exposed vent hole can also be an inviting place for hornets and wasps to build their home, creating refueling issues.
Fuel Cap Gasket:
The rubber O-ring or gasket surrounding the fuel cap should be inspected at least once a year. The rubber can break down over time, preventing a tight seal and allowing water to enter the fuel system through rain, wave action or the atmosphere. When inspecting the O-ring, look for signs of cracking or brittleness, and replace if necessary.
Fuel Fittings & Hoses:
The fuel tank, particularly the fittings and hoses, should also be inspected for signs of wear or damage. If you purchased a used boat, make sure that the valves between the fuel tank and the hose are anti-siphon valves, which will prevent fuel from flowing out of the tank if the hose accidentally becomes dislodged or breaks. Also, inspect the fuel hoses for signs of cracks and brittleness, which can lead to dangerous fuel leaks.
The gasket around the sending unit is another area of concern. This gasket can deteriorate over time, allowing fuel to weep around the seal and creating a dangerous situation. John points out that the screws holding the sending unit in place are specially designed for fuel tanks, and feature built-in sealing washers. Make sure to use these special screws if the sending unit gasket needs to be replaced.
According to ABYC standards, any valves below the waterline should be ball-valves made of bronze or Marelon. In the case of the boat in the video, the ball valves were standard plastic plumbing valves, which are susceptible to failure, and should be replaced.
- North Atlantic Marine Services