Category: Technical
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Following on from a talk and general discussion held at one of the H28 social meetings, I have been asked to outline a typical maintenance schedule for a winter haulout.


This is probably best achieved by breaking it down into the major areas and listing the things to look for and tips to remedy any problems that may have been found.


Note: I realise that we may be seen to be running the risk of trying to teach old hands "how to suck eggs" and that is certainly not the intention. Any additional comments or alternative solutions are welcome and if you forward these to our news letter editor for all to benefit from.


Editor's Note:  Kerry Blaymires, a key figure within the H28 Yacht Owners Association, tragically lost his life in a yachting accident off the Taranaki Coast in May 2004.  Kerry had a great deal of expertise which he freely shared and he is sadly missed by all who knew him.

Accessory Drives

Check all you drive pulleys on the motor and accessories for misalignment. Look for wear on one side of the belt or pulley and a good sign of something being out of line is a lot of fine black dust. Make sure that you have got spare belts of the correct size in "your on board" spares kit.

Bilge Pumps

Look for wear in the diaphragms, valves and hoses and carry a spare pump kit on board. With electric bilge pumps make sure that the float switch is functioning correctly and that the outlet hoses have a non-return valve fitted. Make sure that the pickup base is clear and well fastened down.

Cabin Trunk

Tip: It always is wise to fit a manual override switch to an electrical bilge pump so that it can be operated independently of the float switch.

Have a good look at the deck and check for chips or stress cracks. Repair these with gel coat putty.

Make sure that the windows do not leak and if they do reseal with Sika flex. The fiberglass outer surrounds can crack as they are a hollow molding. If this happens take them off, clean them out, wipe down with acetone and fill them with epoxy resin and chopped strand mat. Re-drill the holes and reattach. I have a complete set of the moulds for the frames if any one needs to replace theirs.

If your Perspex has fine crazing this can be repaired with a special sealing fluid. Ask about this at your perspex or Lexan supplier or replace the window.

Give all your hull, deck and cabin gelcoat surfaces a good cut and polish with a good quality marine fiberglass cleaner / polish. Make sure you use one with good UV protection as this helps to preserve the colour surface of the gelcoat.

Check all your lee cloths and spray dodgers for wear and tear and check that the fasteners are in good working order.

Lastly, fill the water tanks, the fridge with cool refreshments and food, the diesel tanks with fuel, cast off the mooring lines and Join you friends for Labour weekend to celebrate the new sailing season.

Engine Controls

Have a look at your throttle and gear shift cables, their attachments to the motor and gearbox levers as well as the operation of the main lever in the cockpit.

Make sure that the cables move freely and all nuts are tight and clevis pins are secured with a sound cotter pin ( split Pin).

Also check that the cables are properly adjusted to give positive engagement in forward, neutral and reverse, and that the motor idles at the correct speed. This is very important with single lever controls because if the motor rev’s to high in neutral it will make it hard to engage the gearbox into drive and can very well damage the cones and gears.

TIP: If you adjust your cables while on the hard just double check them when you go back into the water as the hull can flex when not fully supported by the sea. This could result in a small change in settings and cause the gearbox not to engage correctly with if not disastrous, then an embarrassing situation!

Fuel tanks

First rule: always keep them full as this helps stop condensation forming in the airspace inside and then contaminating your fuel with water. Water in diesel will help the dreaded diesel bug grow.

To help protect against this consider using one of the diesel treatment additives that are available on the market. Also you can take a small sump pump and drop the pickup tube into the lowest point of the tank and pump out 2-500mls of diesel and water into a clear container. You will then be able to see if any water is present.

Second rule: Filter all diesel through a fine mesh funnel as this will keep most contaminates out of the tank and use silicon grease on the "O" rings of your deck filler as this will help get a good tight seal.

All outlets and inlets to the tank should be checked for leaks, make sure that your breather is not blocked and check that the tank is securely fastened down.

Getting out of the water

PLANNING: First thing to do is get hold of a lined student notebook, you know the hard cover one about the size of a folded A4 sheet of paper. I like the hard cover as it makes it easier to write in, and anything that makes my writing more legible is definitely a bonus! At the top of each left hand page write in bold a heading and underline it. eg: The Hull: under this you can write sub headings such as; Skin fittings, Anti-fouling, Boot topping, Repairs, etc. some of these can be done while you are sitting in front of the fire at night but others will need to be added as you carry out your various inspections.

The right hand page is to list the things that you need to have at hand or buy in preparation for carrying out the work. Yes, I know, we have all got fantastic memories and I guess that this is reflected in the number of trips home or to the chandlery, that we all make, to get those items we have "suddenly found" that we need!

"Bits of paper" get lost! and your note book will not blow way in the wind so keep it in the car and you will always be able to find it when you need it.

The Hull

Prior to the lift out or haul, mark out with coloured insulation tape where you want the cradle arms or lifting strops to be placed. Do this port and starboard. This tape can be put around the lifelines providing the outer plastic sleeve does not move fore or aft.

Book a water blaster to clean off all the growth prior to the boat being placed in its yard position. This can save hours of work. Make sure this includes the bottom of the keel.

Make sure the boat and cradle are secure and that all cradle bolts are tightened up. Some yards use "Acrow Props" instead of a cradle. I personally do not trust these as I have seen the result of a boat falling over when one slipped. Luckily no one was injured but the resulting damage did not impress the owner of the boat next door or for that matter the owner of the boat that fell over or their respective insurance companies. It is your boat so insist on a proper cradle, if that is you wish.

Carry out a detailed inspection of the hull from keel to gunwale and bow to stern. Look for scratches in the topsides and circle them with a pencil, note in your book their position and if they are through the gel coat or not. Minor scratches can be polished out with cutting compound and wax. Deeper ones will need to be cleaned down with acetone to remove any traces of wax and filled with a gel-coat putty. This can be coloured with tinting compound available from resin manufacturers. Leave the putty proud of the surface and after it has cured smooth out by hand with 600-800 grit wet and dry paper. Finally cut & polish.

Next check from the boot topping down to the bottom of the keel. It is a good idea to have a tungsten scrapper to hand when you do this as you can investigate any potential bubbles or blisters that you may find. Please be aware that these could well be just between the anti-fouling and the undercoat. Some anti-fouling and epoxy undercoat systems are incompatible or the first coat of anti-fouling needs to go on green undercoat within a certain time period. Check with your paint system manufacturer.

If you do find any osmosis, the first thing to do is establish how bad it is and if it looks a job outside your ability consult with one of the excellent specialists who undertake this type of repair work. Small blisters can be carefully ground out, thoroughly washed out with fresh water and then allowed to dry. Prior to filling with a good epoxy filler, clean the effected areas out with acetone and allow it to flash off. After the filler has cured sand smooth and apply 2 coats of epoxy undercoat prior to your antifouling system.

Two excellent books: to read on this subject are: "This old boat" by Don Casey ISBN: 0-87742-262-1, and "The Fibreglass Boat repair Manual" by Allan Vaitses. ISBN:0-229-11855-0. Remember Steel & ferro boats rust, wooden ones get rot, alloy corrode, and fibreglass ones get blisters. Fibreglass is very very easy to repair.

Anti fouling preparation and application is very well covered by all the paint manufactures. Follow their instruction leaflets and always wear breathing and skin protection. Your body needs copper, but not in toxic quantities.

Hull Fittings

These include skinfittings, seacocks, cockpit drains, and instrument fittings.

All skinfittings should be checked, no matter what material they are made from.

Bronze can corrode and be effected by stray electrical currents which may originate from your boat, underwater cables, a marina berth or the boat next to you. Look for signs of pitting or verdegrease, ( green corrosion). If found, be suspicious and take them out check them over and replace if necessary.

Check for cracks or damage on composite plastic fittings and replace if necessary. Do not over tighten these just make them nice and snug.

Re-bed them with a good marine sealant (Not Plumbers silicon leave this stuff for the plumbers to "play with")

When re- bedding any fitting it always pays to mask off and clean around the area of the fitting and be generous with the sealer.

Always lightly tighten the fitting so that sealer squeezes out evenly and leave for 2 days to allow the sealer to cure. Then give a final tighten to snug the fitting home. This will give you a much better seal as you have allowed a thin gasket to form.

After 2 days you can also trim off any excess sealer with a stanley knife. To protect the thread while doing this and allow you to carry out the final tighten up put a little petroleum jelly or silicon grease on the area where the nut will be.

All through hull fittings should have a ply backing plate on the inside and under the nut.

Check for leaks between the thread and the seacock,(Valve) and the hose tailpiece.(if fitted). This is a good place to use PTFE tape (thread seal tape). This gives a good seal and makes it easy to remove valves and tailpieces.

Check that all valves are operating properly. My personal motto is to disassemble and lubricate with silicon grease every 3-4 years. Yep OK, the Toilet outlet valve I just replace when it stiffens up!

Under no circumstances should BRASS gate valves be used anywhere there is salt water, always use bronze, reinforced plastic (RC marine type) or 316 stainless.

All hoses and hose clips should be checked and fit double hose clamps on all underwater through hull fittings.

Oh and of course you will all have a softwood tapered plug of the right size tied to each through hull with light nylon cord "just in case a valve or skin fitting breaks off and in does cometh the sea".

What do you mean you haven’t yet, well now lets get that done too because there is no way you can hold your hand over a hole under, lets say the sink, and at the same time reach over and find the softwood plugs which are kept in the lazzeratte!

These plugs can be purchased from any good chandlery and are not expensive.

The Mast and Balance of the Topsides

At the mast have a close look at the limber hole in the base of the mast and make sure that it is clear, you would be amazed how much salt water gets inside the mast!

Check all exit blocks and lubricate then slowly work your way up the mast checking the gooseneck, paying particular attention to the pin, the boom and all lines and fittings on it.

Next the spinnaker pole ring, spreader bases, lower shroud tangs, pins, and through mast bolt.

At this point you will most likely find yourself at the spreader lights. Check they are working and that the lenses are clean and well sealed. Look closely at the wiring checking for chafe especially where it enters the mast.

At the masthead check all lights and fittings not forgetting the attachment of the stays.

Also clean and check your VHF aerial and clean the connections. CRC electrical contact cleaner and lubricator is good here. As mentioned before check all wiring, lubricate the sheave boxes and blocks including the roller furler swivel.

On the way down give the mast a polish with a good quality cleaner polish such as "Mothers or 3m". This helps protect the alloy, the anodising, and helps stop black marks from the mast going on the headsails.

Lastly give the sail slides a spray of silicon as this will help the main go up the track without jamming and include you jib hank pins as well.

The Motor

Your manual will set out the maintenance requirements here. Do not forget to check your motor anode and the impeller in the waterpump. I think it is a good idea to replace your impeller each year and keep the old one as a backup.

Also a simple filter on your water intake line between the gate valve and the pump will save a lot of hassles with potential blockages. Wingate" make a simple clear inline tube one and these are available from farm stores, marine shops and garden centres.

All hoses should be double hose clamped for safety and checked for wall softening or damage. Replace as necessary.

A tip, get your hoses from your local "Hose Doctor" usually a lot more cost effective.

Limber Holes

These are the holes that drain any water to the bilge sump area. Make sure that they are clear so that the water flow is not impeded. A good trick is to thread one piece of cord through with a knot just forward of each hole. Join the forward end to a short piece of shock cord and attach this to the hull. On the other end tie a loop and when you need to clear the holes one or two pulls on the loop end will clear all at once. This can be left in place permanently

The propeller, shaft, stern tube and stuffing box.

Look for wear in the stern tube bush by trying to move the shaft sideways. If you need to replace this you might need to remove the shaft depending on what type of bush you have. For a cutless bearing usually after removing the propeller with a proper prop puller, you can loosen the grub screw or clamp bolt on the side of the bronze housing and grip the cutless bearing with a pair of vice grips, and twist it out.

Most others require that the shaft be removed.

Don’t forget to replace your zinc anode.

When pulling the shaft out from the coupling at the back of the gearbox, if it is tight, place a slightly smaller diameter spacer between the end of the shaft and the gearbox coupling, insert some longer coupling bolts through the two halves of the coupling and evenly tighten them up to press the shaft out. Do not use a hammer as this could burr the end of the shaft and when putting the shaft back into the coupling Do not be tempted to hit the propeller end of the shaft to drive it home, while using the gearbox and engine as a dolly. This will result in the rear gearbox bearing being damaged. While the shaft is out check for wear and straightness. To check the latter lay it across two pieces of 100x 50mm (4 x 2") on edge on a flat surface. Roll it back and forth and watch to see if the ends wobble. If it does, or it is badly worn at the gland end or stern bearing end, get a new shaft made.

Check the stern tube. This connects the outer bearing housing with the inner stuffing box or shaft seal. This is usually a threaded length of copper or bronze tube. Several boats have had a hard to find leak from this area and have found that the stern tube had developed a hole or broken. To remove this assembly you need to unscrew the two outer lag screws, which hold the outer housing to the hull and then unscrew the outer housing and stern tube. Get your local marine engineering shop to turn you up a new one. Reinstall bedding it down in plenty of high quality marine sealant. ie: Sika flex or M5200.

Don’t forget to check your shaft to motor alignment. This should be done each year as the motor mounts do slowly compress. The easiest way is to make sure that the shaft and gearbox couplings are in line and that an equal gap exists between the coupling faces when they are in close proximity. Use a feeler gauge or a set space for this.


Check for cracks in the blade and repair, and for any wear in the pintles and gudgeons. If you find a loose pintle pin this can be fixed by taking it to a machine shop and having a new one made with an oversize thread. All you then need to do is tap a new thread to match in the bronze body and screw it in with a suitable thread lock liquid. Any wear between the pin and the gudgeon can be corrrected by the simple addition of a teflontm or plastic thinwall bush. These are a standard engineering supply item and are marketed under several trade names. One that comes to mind is "Dufor". Of course you will need to re bore the hole in the gudgeon to match the outer diameter of the bush. Check the rudder cheeks for any stress cracks and repair accordingly.

Sail Care

Correct sail maintenance can make a large difference to the life and performance of your sails. Regardless of the sail material, a little care can help a lot.

Avoid flogging: Flogging and leech flutter are the worst causes of cloth deterioration. To maintain the shape and strength of your sails, minimize the amount of time they are flapping in the breeze. When hoisting a sail while motoring, don't go too fast and, if motor sailing, keep the main trimmed. Always keep the leech lines tight enough so that the leeches don't flutter.

Stretch; Using a sail in a higher wind range than what it was designed for is one of the quickest ways to destroy it. It is better to reduce sail before the wind does it for you.

Chafe: Any part of the boat or mast that a sail rubs against should be protected, and don't drag a sail over anything rough. Tape up spreader ends especially with leather etc.

Sunlight: While direct sunlight is one of the worst enemies of sails, you cannot keep your sails out of the sun unless you only sail when it is cloudy. You should, how- ever, keep your sails covered any time they are not being used, even if only for an hour or two.

Storage: Sails should only be stored dry, free of salt and folded or rolled into sailbags. Don't fold sails in the same place each time as you will finish up with permanent creases. If you have a damp sail at the end of a cruise, take it home to dry or, if unable to, stow it loosely in the boat as long as it is a well ventilated craft.

Cleaning: To get rid of most of the salt from a sail, a gentle hosing down regularly. To clean a sail of dirt, use a diluted solution of a mild cleaner and warm water. Contact your sailmaker to advise a good cleaner suitable for your sails.

Folding: A folded or flaked sail will take up less room than one which is randomly stuffed into a bag, and it is much better for the life of the sail itself.

Headsails: To fold a genoa, start at the foot and fold in panels wide enough to fit in your stowage area. When the sail is entirely folded from foot to head, then fold both ends toward the middle leaving the tack on the outside of the last fold. It is preferable to have a large flat area to fold a sail - but rarely available - so you can fold on the cabin top using the boom as a feeder or fold on a marina using the boat as a feeder.

Mainsails: Can be easily stored on the boom by flaking it on to the boom and pulling the bottom fold out and wrapping it over the rest of the sail, then put a tie around the sail and boom or use shock- cord.

When the main is taken off the boom and mast it is folded from the foot the same as for a headsail.

Spinnakers: As long as they are dry, spinnakers or other nylon sails do not need to be folded. As long as the head and clews are gathered and the sail is not twisted, these sails are the only ones that can be stuffed into a bag.


On deck strip and service all your winches including those on the mast and don’t forget to grease them well with ptfe grease.

When you dismantle any winches always check that you block off the scuppers just incase you accidentally drop a pawl, spring or screw.

Check that all the Genoa track bolts are tight and well sealed, as this is a common area for leaks to occur.

An excellent idea here is to slightly countersink each hole in the deck as this enables the sealer to form a "O" ring, which ensures no leaks. This also applies to your stanchion bases, and bolts.

Give all your stainless a treat with a coat of reviver and polish and check the swages on the stanchion wires for corrosion or broken wires.

Have a look at the stays, rigging screws, clevis and cotter pins.

Some ptfe or lanolin grease here helps keep everything free and sealed. Put a little lanolin grease where the wire enters the swages on the bottle screw as this helps seal out water from wicking down the wire strands.

With the rigging wire that is used for the stays it pays to inspect the strands carefully and if you find a broken one replace the whole stay. The recommendation is that you replace all your rigging once every 10 years. Do not throw out the old ones, as these can be kept as an emergency spare.

Also look at the spreader tips and make sure that they are bisecting the angle correctly and that the cap shrouds are wired into the ends and that a boot or insulation tape is wrapped well around the ends to protect your Genoa.

Check all your sheets and halyards and if they are showing slight signs of wear, end for end them. This applies for your anchor warps and chain. This is a good time to re-mark the chain and warp with either fathom, or 10-meter marks. Use paint on the chain and coloured sailcloth or twine on the warp.

Make sure that all shackles and pins are tight, secure and seized.

The bitter end of the warp should be attached to an eye in the anchor well with some medium lashing to prevent the whole lot going over the side!

Do Not shackle this to the eye, as one day you might need to let the whole lot go in an emergency and you won’t have time to fiddle with a spanner undoing a pin! Just cut the lashing with a knife! While checking all this out remember to check your spare anchors stored below the floor and the dinghies tackle.

Water Tanks and Hoses

All water tanks should be flushed clean every year or two and especially if you can "taste" the water. This taste is caused by black algae in the tank or in the clear plastic hoses that runs to your pumps at the sink or the hand basin

Good potable water always contains some solids in suspension and over a period of time these settle out in the bottom of your water tanks.

The best way to drain the tanks is to use a spare piece of hose and connect one end to the tank outlet and the other to the inlet for the motor cooling water. Start your motor, make sure that it is out of gear so the propeller will not turn, and drain tanks and flush motor at the same time! If you don’t have inspection ports in the top of the tank to allow you to agitate the water then remove your deck filler plug and run a hose from the fresh water tap, turn on and stir up the sediment that way.

NOTE: do not let the motor run out of water so keep a good eye on it during this operation.

This procedure can be carried out either on the hard or in the water. ( No you most likely won’t have a mains water faucet handy out on a mooring!)

If you have clear plastic water carrying pipes I suggest that you change them for black food grade neoprene ones as this will stop any light getting to the water and inducing algae to grow. Enough light does get into the areas where these run for this problem to occur.

Finally you can obtain from you chemist "Milton" solution or water treatment tablets. These can help sweeten the tanks and it is well worth while to consider fitting a small inline activated charcoal filter and make sure that all tanks are well fastened to the hull. Remember that 1-gallon of water weighs 4.5kg so a full 40-gallon tank has 200kgs of potential kinetic energy.

Check also that all hoses are securely attached to tail pieces.

TIP: If you ever suddenly find water over the floor boards taste it first as this will determine whether it is fresh or salt and help you to quickly narrow down the possible source.

We have pretty well covered the toilet area in a previous article however check all the anti-siphon devices, hoses and hose clips. To keep the bowl smelling fresh when you leave the boat after a weekend away rinse it out with a bowl full of fresh water. (Leave the inlet valve off for this operation.)

Before we leave down below take a look at your batteries, gas lines, wiring, switches and lights and your fire extinguishers.