To ensure a safe voyage and prevent problems before they arise it’s paramount that you check your sailboat or motorboat marine engine before leaving your mooring. This marine engine pre start checks checklist covers the minimum checks required and has been created for diesel engines.
Marine Engine Pre Start Checks
- Water: remove cap on water tank and feel inside for water/coolant. Top up with distilled water and antifreeze if necessary.
- Oil in sump: remove oil dip-stick and wipe clean. Re-insert and pull out to ensure that oil is at the correct level. Smell the oil – if there’s any hint of fuel in the oil, alter the captain immediately.
- Oil in gearbox: note that this might need to be done after the engine has been run for a few minutes and then shut down. Check your manual.
- Fuel supply control (if fitted): make sure that it’s in the open position
- Belt: check that the belt(s) around the engine are firm. Don’t twist! Should bounce the width of your thumb along the longest side (25 – 30mm)
- Battery: look at the batteries and ensure the connections are solid and there’s no serious corrosion. Check the charge level.
- Leaks: look around the area below the engine. Ensure there are no liquids such as water, oil or fuel in the bilge. Always keep the engine basin very clean so leaks show up easily.
- Electricity: make sure all the wires are secure and there are no lose ends.
- Strainers: check the sea strainer or strainers. Ensure they’re free from debris. Use gloves as some sea creatures are hard to see and can sting if you touch them.
- Seacocks: make sure that your engine seacocks are open.
- Fuel: check that you have adequate fuel for your travels.
- Log: enter your engine hours and review maintenance logs.
- Sniff: to ensure that no fuel fumes are detectable in the engine bay or bilge before firing up the engine.
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