Return to the boat: what problems might be on board and how to solve them


Give or treat yourself to a subscription to Boats in Motion print + digital and for only 39 euros a year you get the magazine at home plus read it on your PC, smartphone and tablet. With a sea of advantages.

Bavaria S30 navigation

The warm weather and the desire to sail are back. But what condition will our boat be in after a stationary winter? As we know these means need a lot of care and attention. Here is a list of problems you may face and how to solve them.


Problem No. 1: The water coming out of the taps smells bad.

Solution: If the fresh water smells bad, it is best to clean the tanks from the inspection cap with a specific detergent and a short-handled brush. Otherwise, it will be sufficient to add a sterilizing product (chlorine ones are strictly forbidden if you have the desalinator because this element damages filters and membranes). Then open a faucet and circulate the mixture in the pipes for a long time, followed by a thorough rinse. Check the condition and tightness of the clamps and check for leaks from the connections.

Problem No. 2: I turn on the autoclave, open the on-board faucets, the water does not come out or comes out late.

Solution: After checking the condition of the freshwater tank filters, and making sure that there are no obstructions in the distribution circuit, all that remains is to check the autoclave presenter (the presenter is a device that opens and closes an electrical contact in the presence of a previously defined pressure). Sometimes spraying a little anti-corrosive spray such as CRC or Svitol on the contacts will suffice, but if the problem persists it is best to replace it. An autoclave pressure switch costs 10 euros and up (just check the psi of your autoclave to get a suitable one).

Problem No. 3: Given the long absence, you have concerns that there is water in the bilge.

Solution: Remove the dunnage and taste any water you find to find out if it is sweet or salty. You will then be able to more easily detect any seepage. Then proceed to cleaning. Clean bilges result in drier interiors, since salt is hygroscopic and therefore attracts moisture, but also in lower risks of clogging bilge pumps. Cleaning should be done using a bucket with water diluted with detergent that does not foam. When doing so, check the bulb studs and the reinforcing framework, which should not have any cracks or disconnections from the underlying shell.

Problem No. 4: There is water and dirt in the mooring winch

Solution: Equip yourself with a basin of gasoline or diesel fuel and proceed to disassemble the bell and gears. Clean the pieces thoroughly with a small brush, then reassemble them following the cutaway provided by the manufacturer. Don’t get carried away with grease, which should be applied in very small doses (and never on clothespins and pawls). Remember to lay in the area around the winch a cloth so that some gear does not roll into the water.

Problem No. 5: The candlesticks and edge metals are dirty or have traces of rust.

Solution: the first solution is to use a specific metal cleaning product (such as Mafra, Iosso, etc.), or you can make your own cleaner. “Grandma’s remedies” have worked since the dawn of time. For cleaning metal parts and chrome plating, try apple cider vinegar and polish with baby oil. As for aluminum, use cream of tartar dissolved in ¼ hot water. Do you have brass parts? Don’t panic: Worcestershire sauce, or a mixture of equal parts vinegar, water and salt (dried after treatment) will suffice. You can also sprinkle a mixture of lemon juice and salt. Wait a few minutes and then dry. To remove rust, mix equal parts salt and lemon juice and scrub, then make a second pass with vinegar and salt.

Problem No. 6: The woods on board are dirty.

Solution: Interior woods should first be cleaned with a damp cloth, then treated and nourished with a specific furniture product. This treatment should not be reserved for the dunnage, which should instead be cleaned with alcohol so as not to make them slippery should you walk on them with wet feet. Any chafing or flaking caused by the sun can be touched up with mordanted cupial (be careful to choose the glossy or matte one, based on the paint used by the site) after sanding with 120-grit sandpaper. Washing teak should be done with soft water and a brush with not too hard bristles that should be used in the direction perpendicular to the fiber, otherwise it will strip the wood. If you want to restore the teak to its original color, a bleaching product can be applied. After that you can spread a specific oil, keeping in mind that initially the deck will be a bit slippery.

Problem No. 7: The cushioning “tastes rotten.”

Solution: Removed the liners, which should be machine washed with warm water (beware of fabric shrinkage), the foam should be vacuumed (preferable to a beater, which can crumble the material) and placed to dry in the sun. If the mattress has previously gotten wet with salt water-a very common situation on a cruise when going below deck after a bath and not paying attention-you need to rinse it out, otherwise you will always have condensation on board. Finally, spray non-oily lubricant (such as Sailkote and Teflub) on the zipper hinges.

Problem #8: The toilet hand pump squeaks and makes strange noises.

Solution: When the pump “squeaks,” pour in one or two teaspoons of oil and after a few minutes give it about ten pumps. This should be enough to solve the problem.

Problem No. 9: The toilet gives off a bad smell.

Solution: If the toilet smells bad you will have to replace the flush pipe: after a while the rubber becomes porous. Then, with the flush outlet open, pour a bucket with fresh water and 50 percent bleach into the bowl, and give it a couple of pumps (or run the circuit if it is an electric toilet) so that the liquid gets into the pump. Let it sit for about half an hour and then discharge.

Problem #10: I’m afraid the moisture on board has also affected the electrical system.

Solution: First we check the operation of all utilities, from the lights to the windlass through the instruments. Then all you have to do is open the electrical panel and spray the connections with a protective antioxidant spray (such as the specific one developed by CRC). Finally, the state of charge of the batteries is checked with a densimeter, the terminals of the cables are cleaned, and they are coated with stringy Vaseline.

Problem #11: I made the mistake of leaving the battery terminals attached before “lockdown.” What to do?

Solution: Under idle conditions, impurities physiologically present within the battery give rise to electrochemical reactions that, over time discharge the battery. The higher the temperature of the environment, the greater the discharge. All you have to do is disconnect the battery, clean the contact terminals, and check the main cables for oxidation. Check with the help of a voltage and temperature tester (lithium batteries have built-in sensors) and make sure they are in line with the manufacturer’s specifications. Indicatively, a healthy 12 V should register 12.5 V and about 14 V when charging. If we are below these figures, it may be time to replace the battery. It should also be mentioned that traditional lead acid batteries allowed a minimum of maintenance and regeneration, whereas the latest generation of sealed batteries (AGM, Gel), once their cycle is over, must be replaced.

Problem #12: The tender’s outboard won’t start. Now what?

Solution: First check that fuel is not missing (and that too much has not been “pumped in,” flooding the carburetor), that oil, filters, impeller, alternator belt, and coolant are okay. For “older” carbureted models, it could be a fueling problem: the air-fuel mixture may be too lean to promote starting. So in this case the problem is in the air not being pulled. Especially in outboards of a few years ago, as soon as the engine shows signs of life, the air must be removed to allow the engine to run with the correct carburetion, or else it will shut down again. If they are electric-start outboards, the batteries may be discharged or partially charged. An obvious sign of this abnormality can be seen by the fact that the starter motor turns at a slower speed, struggles to run, or, even, does not turn at all; in addition, the moment the starter is activated (e.g., by turning the key), there is a decrease in the light intensity of the warning lights on the instrument panel. At this point it is necessary to try recharging (or having the batteries recharged). If, on the other hand, the failure is due to the old age of the batteries, so they would not hold a charge anyway, they need to be replaced.

Problem #13: The windlass is not working at its best.

Solution: Disassemble the barbotin and thoroughly clean the contact surface with the windlass body. Do not apply grease, which reduces friction grip and facilitates slag deposition. Clean the cable contacts on the contactor from oxide and spray with lubricating spray. It is also important to take care of the anchor chain: after unloading the chain ashore, wash the inside of the locker well. Once the chain has been rinsed, apply the new length marks. Finally, check that the anchor attachment system is in good condition.



The journalists of Motor Boats , together with Giornale della VELA and Top Yacht Design strive every day to ensure quality, up-to-date and correct information about the boating world free of charge through their websites. If you appreciate our work, support us by subscribing to the magazine. The annual subscription costs only 29.90 euros!

Also support us on SAIL Newspaper and Top Yacht Design!



Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Are you already a subscriber?

Sign up for our Newsletter

Join the Sailing Newspaper Club

Powerboats, its stories, from small open to motoryachts. Sign up now for our free newsletter and receive the best news selected by the editorial staff each week. Enter your email below, agree to the Privacy Policy and click the “sign me up” button.

Once you click on the button below check your mailbox



You may also be interested in.

Sessa Marine F60

Sessa F60, new flybridge arrives for cruising (17.9 m)

Among the world premieres scheduled for the now approaching Cannes Yachting Festival, scheduled for September 10 to 15, a new 60-foot sporty flybridge by Sessa Marine will also be unveiled for enthusiasts. Sleek in lines, 17.93 meters long and fast