Adrian Johnson

Marine Surveyor, West Mystic, CT

Open and close all seacocks and use a flashlight to check them in both positions. ABYC standards require seacocks to withstand a 500-pound lateral load. With the boat out of the water, you’ll feel much better about pressing your foot against a questionable fitting to see if it fails from corrosion. In addition, grease and service all of the boat’s valves. If your boat has a balsa-cored hull and it hasn’t been surveyed recently, then consider hiring a surveyor to moisture-test and percussion-sound it. In sailboats, check the seam between the ballast keel and the stump or hull. Although light cracking and crazing in this area is common, a changing condition may indicate failure or weakness in the bolts or keel stump. Change the anodes on the prop shafts, trim tabs and other underwater metal components.

Bob Petzold

Petzold’s Marine Center, Portland, CT

First, check for bent propellers and worn cutlass bearings. Lift up on the shaft to check for play from wear, and inspect the rubber insert in the bearing for dry rot. If necessary, replace the cutlass bearing. Spin the shafts to make sure they turn freely; if not, check the shaft alignment. Look for electrolysis damage on all the underwater metals. Pod boats should be checked for bent props and corrosion, and the prop shaft seals should be changed every few years to prevent water intrusion. Pod and sterndrive boats should have the gear oil changed and visually checked for water; if water is evident, then the drives should be pressure tested and checked for leaks. Go forward and inspect the bow thruster props for damage, ensure the shear pins have not broken, and clear the thruster tunnels.

Randy Hale III

Hale Propeller, Old Saybrook, CT

Run your fingers over the prop blades; everything should feel smooth. Look for nicks, especially in the leading edges, and corrosion. Also check the blade alignment: Hold a paint stirrer against the rudder so it just touches one blade tip, and then rotate the prop. All the blades should just touch the stick, or be within 1/32 of an inch of it. If you find problems, send the props to the shop; if you don’t have the appropriate puller, then get the yard to remove them. Don’t whack the hub to break it loose. When remounting a prop, use the big nut to push it into place, and then remove that nut. The next step is to screw on and torque the small nut against the prop, and then thread on and tighten the big nut. The outside nut takes most of the strain, and you want the big nut there to hold everything in place.

This article originally appeared in the January 2020 issue.