It’s a good idea to stay on top of your boat’s service schedule, just like you would with a car.  Keeping your boat up-to-date is much more crucial on your boat because there’s a lot more equipment to maintain! Since it’s easy to forget what needs a service, and when, here’s a handy checklist.

Safety gear – Inflatable lifejacket

Check every time you wear, and self-service annually. An inflatable lifejacket is comfortable and Keeping up-to-date on your boat is more important than it is on a car – because the boat has a lot more gear!

Give your lifejacket the once over every time you wear it, for any obvious damage. You can self service your lifejacket (at least annually), paying attention to the following:

Check the CO2 cylinder is screwed in properly, and has no corrosion check for any bladder punctures (inflate your lifejacket overnight, and see if it’s still fully inflated in the morning) check you can access the inflation pull cord, look for any sun damage or tears.

Flares Of Ship

By the expiration date, the product should be replaced. It is estimated that flares last between 3-5 years on average. You risk your expired flare not firing at all when you need it after the propellant starts to degrade.

The expiry date should be printed on each flare. If you can’t read the expiry date or the flare shows signs of age (eg. rust around any metal parts, worn labels) replace them anyway. Read more about flares.

PLB -Personal Locator Beacon

Battery needs to be replaced by the expiry date. The long-life, non-rechargeable battery on your EPIRB or PLB is usually guaranteed to last at least five years, and often as much as ten. Check the expiry date listed on the side of the beacon, to ensure the batteries are still within their use dates. Give it a test every so often – there should be a test button which won’t transmit a signal, so you know the beacon is still working correctly.

PLB – Personal Locator Beacon Or EPLB Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon. With some emergency beacons the battery can be replaced, but you’ll probably find the cost isn’t vastly different from buying a brand new beacon. It’s worth noting that beacon technology has advanced hugely in the last decade – many beacons include GPS as standard now – so it’s worth investing in a new emergency beacon to ensure you’ve got the latest and greatest.

Also make sure that your beacon transmits on the 406MHz frequency. Older beacons (especially those over a decade old) may only transmit on 121.5MHz, which has been phased out as an emergency frequency and is now used mostly by aircraft. Using an older beacon in an emergency may mean a confirmed satellite detection is significantly delayed, sometimes as much as five hours – so update your old one today. Find out more about beacons.

Fire extinguisher

Check the gauge monthly, service it annually. Most fire extinguishers are designed to last anywhere from 5 to 15 years. Each extinguisher should have a maintenance sticker or yellow tag attached to it; check the service date listed on that.

However, it’s important to check the pressure gauge every month to make sure it’s still green – you don’t want a “in-date” to fail simply because it lost pressure between visits! Aside from regularly inverting the extinguisher, you should also remove the powder inside to prevent it from settling at the bottom.

It goes without saying you should recharge the extinguisher at an authorised dealer, or replace it, if you’ve had to use it. But you should also get it checked if you notice the hose or nozzle is damaged or cracked. The locking pin is missing – it might mean the extinguisher has been fired, or means it could do if not stowed properly inspection tag is missing – you won’t know when it was last inspected.

Your Boat  trailer

It is necessary to renew the warrant of fitness every six months. Keep in mind that you need to do a trailer WOF every six months (or annually if your trailer was manufactured in 2012 or later). There is a range of prices between $25 and $50. 

Boat insurance

While it can seem like just another bill in a long line of them, and can be easy to overlook, you’d be kicking yourself if you weren’t covered for any accident on the water.

Make sure your insurance is up-to-date, and that it covers your boat fully (and includes your fishing and personal gear aboard). Tower is our preferred Boat insurer, check out their Boat Policy details or get a quick quote.

Your Callsign

Once you’ve purchased a callsign, it’s yours for life – it never expires. But you do need to keep it updated especially if you’ve upgraded the boat or changed your contact details. It’s simple to do – just update your details on the Boating Education website.

Your Coastguard Membership

You can never be prepared for everything, whether it’s a flat battery or something more serious, so make sure you’ve got your Coastguard Membership sorted before you hit the water. If you run into trouble, Coastguard will have your back with free assistance!