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Get ready for spring and summer sailing

8th Apr 2024
Beaulieu River > River News > Facilities > Get ready for spring and summer sailing

They do say ‘fail to prepare, prepare to fail’, which is why carrying out pre-season checks are essential to ensure more stress-free time on the water. Harbour Master Wendy Stowe shares her top tips.

Pre-season checks can be broken down into three stages:

Pre-launch: visual check of the boat out of the water, including the hull, keel and rudder

Post-launch: systems check, including the engine, battery and electronics

Shakedown sail: final check to see if anything has been missed and a chance to try every function, including putting the sails up and anchor down


Don’t grind your gears

Before setting out for a day’s sailing, it is important to do some basic engine checks. These include but are not limited to:

Check fuel filters

Check drive belts for tightness

Check impellers for signs of damage

Check rigging for signs of wear and tear

It is a good idea to keep a maintenance log to help you remember which checks you have done when and ensure you cover the essentials.

Lost your spark?

Proper battery checks and maintenance will make sure you get the most out of your season, as well as your batteries.

Check batteries regularly for signs of corrosion/damage

Check the charge and whether it’s holding

Lead-acid batteries of any type should not be discharged below 50% of capacity, or it will die prematurely

Always charge batteries to maximum capacity. Partially charging a battery is one of the most common causes of premature battery failure

Running on fumes

One of the most common causes for propulsion failure on the Solent is boats either running out of fuel, or issues with the fuel system. So it’s important to:

Check your fuel filter regularly

Add biocide to each fuel fill to help stop growth

If possible, drain and check a sample from the bottom of your tank, as water/sediment can settle in fuel during lay-up

Check the fuel shut-off valve, especially if your boat hasn’t been used for a while

Fuel does have a shelf life and old fuel can cause major issues


If you do suffer from propulsion failure, it is important to call for help. There are various methods of getting attention when you need assistance:

VHF Ch 16

Call 999 and ask for the Coastguard

Personal Locator Beacon (PLB)

It is advisable to do a radio check with another station before heading out, to ensure that your set is working. Also, make sure that your mobile phone is fully charged and kept somewhere waterproof.

Bon voyage

Spring sailing at Beaulieu

Following these basic planning tips will help you to enjoy a successful sail, even if you’re just heading out for the day:

Check the weather forecast before setting out, then again at regular intervals

Identify possible safe havens, in case you need them

Check your fuel levels, taking into account the tides and weather

Complete basic engine checks, such as oil levels and drive belts

Then enjoy your sail on the Beaulieu River!


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