Your trouble free sail boat cruise starts here! and first safe and successful boat cruise starts here! Read Part 3 on electronics equipment and deck equipment. Your trouble free boat cruise starts here!


The characteristic misting up of instrument displays is a typical sight after winter.

The best remedy is to switch on the display lighting and leave it on for several hours. It is not a lot of heat but it all helps. Your trouble free sail boat cruise starts here!

1. Check that all the aerial connections are secure. In particular check VHF connectors at the mast base, or where they are made up the mast at the aerial. If they are in poor condition visit West Marine and order new ones

2. Check that any exposed copper conductors have not deteriorated, and that crimp connections are sound. Again if they need replacing West Marine has it all.

3. Check all whip aerials (VHF, Navtex etc) for damage. I have bought my replacement aerials from West Marine, they have all the leading brands

4. Check that the GPS aerial is undamaged, and vertical if on a pushpit type support.

5. Check the autopilot socket outlets for moisture. If caps or protective covers have not been properly screwed on then corrosion may have occurred around the small pins. Clean and dry them out before use. Your trouble free sail boat cruise starts here!

6. Check gas detector operation. Sensor heads can be degraded by moisture and be ineffective. Turn on the detector and test after an hour. Ideally sensor heads should be wrapped up for the winter.

7. Operate all electronics equipment for several hours, with lights on. The heating effect of the equipment power supplies and lamps should dry out any internal condensation that can cause malfunction on circuit boards

8. Check all electronics grounds are tight and are in good condition. Your trouble free sail boat cruise starts here!

Sail Boat Cruise Windlass, Winch, Thruster and Toilet Checks

1. Check, clean and tighten the windlass, powered winch and thruster motor terminal connections, using a ring spanner.

2. Apply a light coating of Vaseline to the terminals for protection

3. Drop the anchor and operate motor on load for two complete anchor retrievals, and warm up motor (subject to the duty cycle capability of the motor).

4. Open and check the footswitch for water ingress. This is a very common failure mode. It has been known to cause uncontrolled operation when shorted out with water. Check that contacts are in good condition, it may save you the task of hauling it in by hand in a failure.

5. Operate the thruster under load for 3 minutes. That’s the typical rating in most cases. This will dry out moisture. Where possible also check brushgear, and that the brushes are moving freely. This is important as subsequent arcing may cause motor commutator damage, as well as poor operation.

6. Operate electric toilets several times to heat up the pump motor windings. Spares for toilets are available from west-marine

7. Check connections are in good condition and not corroded.

Sail Boat Cruise Electrical Checks

1. Check all connections and re-terminate and seal if required. In particular the bilge pump connections should be carefully inspected. If the pump is faulty order a replacement from west-marine . Your trouble free sail boat cruise starts here!

2. Mast lighting junctions. This may be a junction box or terminal strip. Or it may be a plug and socket arrangement. The typical fault is the screws are corroded in, and the contact resistance in many cases deteriorates with increases in voltage drop, and failure of the connection. Your trouble free sail boat cruise starts here!

3. Check spotlight socket outlets for moisture. Clean and dry if moisture is found. If they are corroded then buy some new ones from your local supplier.

4. Inspect all bonding and lightning system connections. Where any degradation has occurred the connection should be redone. Look for signs of copper blackening. For the systems to operate properly they must have a low resistance.

5. Operate all circuit breakers and switches several times. If you have faulty breakers then buy replacements and reinstall

6. Remove any fuses where installed and inspect the end caps etc for deterioration. Replace the fuses if not in perfect condition. While you are shopping at west-marine for all your other consumable gear add some spare fuses. Your trouble-free sail boat cruise starts here!

7. Where any bonding system is installed, check all the connections for corrosion or deterioration, and re-terminate as required.

Your trouble-free sail boat cruise starts here!