Compass Headings
Dedicated to raisng the bar


The Checklist:

Weather Planning
& Resources

Spare Parts &
Boat Outfit

& Equipment

Celestial Navigation
Vessel Conduct
Rules of the Road

Safety Equipment &
Vessel Paperwork

Trip Planning
Maneuvering, Anchoring
& Enroute Checks

Bar Entrances, Passes
& Narrows

Distances Reference
Mariner Math
Port Information
Panama Canal

Vessel Delivery
Selecting a Vessel
Selling Your Boat
Service Providers

Purchase Checklist


Basic rules of thumb:
Keep bilges clean and dry.

Understanding how a piece of equipment or system functions is key to troubleshooting its malfunction.

Most electrical problems are caused by bad connections.

Many problems can be solved by turning the unit off and back on. In essence hitting the reset button.

Smell can indicate problems. Coolant, overheated batteries, fuel system, black water all have definite smells.

Basic Electrical:
Cycle on/off switch then check to ensure:
AC/DC power supply
cycle breaker
check power connections

Water in the bilge:
Fresh or Salt: Taste test .Possible sources?
Fresh: Fresh water system, Deck drain system
Salt: Thru hull, Raw water cooling, shaft packing
Coolant: Will have definite color and smell.
Fuel: Typically valves and fittings. Color and smell.
Oil: Clean or Dirty? Trace back to source.</
Clean: Transmission. Hydraulic. Steering.
Dirty: Engine or genset
Hydraulic oil: Trace back to source:
High pressure lines and fittings are typical sources.
Color of oil may also indicate source.
Stabilizers, thrusters, anchor windlass, boat davit,
Steering system may have different color fluid. (Hydraulic)

Hydraulic Systems:
Check power switches
solenoid switches

Battery Systems: House, Start
Check Main DC breaker at Main Panel
Check DC voltage
Check Main Battery Switches
Check Battery Connections

Won’t Charge:
Check Inverter breaker
Check AC in
Cycle unit on and off. Cycle Charge on and off
Won’t Invert:
Cycle Invert switch on and off
Check main DC power to unit
Check power selector switch on main panel if present

Shore Power:
Check boats main panel. Ensure Shore power is properly selected.
Dock breaker
Boats’ main breaker (usually located near shore cord entry)
Test dock plug, test/inspect shore cord.

Genset Power:
Check boats’ main panel.
Check main breaker on Genset.

Genset shutdown:
Overheat: Impeller, Raw water supply, Sea strainer, Coolant.
Oil Pressure: Oil level, Bad sending unit.
Raw water supply: Sea strainer, Impeller.
Shutdowns maybe malfunctioning.

Valve alignment, pressure setting/valve, filters, salinity level, high pressure pump oil level.

Fresh Water System:
Turn Power off and back on to Pump. Hit reset if present.
Check water tank level.
Check valve alignment.
Check backup pump.
Check pressure switch.

Head Systems: Components to check.
Vacuflush: Rubber duckbill valves. (can become clogged)
Check for vacume leaks.
Check pressure cutoff switch on accumulator vacume tank.
Headhunter: Momentary touch switch. Adjustable timer.
Water supply selonoid.
Tecma: Duel switch/timer control head.
Built in water supply selonoid and Macerator pump.

Holding Tank Discharge:
Ensure overboard discharge valve is open.

Air Conditioning:
Control head operation.
Ensure system is selected to cool or heat.
Raw water cooling pump.
Raw water seastrainer.
Air handler screens. Check if dirty.
Compressor may need recharging.
Check circulation water level and pressure.
Circulation water pump.


Check proper adjustment of: Gain, Sea Return, Rain, Tune.
Adjust all for best picture.
Note: Any one of these can eliminate the picture.
Check for accurate alignment of the radar picture.

Depth Sounder:
Check gain adjustment.
High frequency for shallow water.
Low frequency for deep water.

VHF-FM Marine Radio:
Check for TX indicator when Mike is keyed.
Test with other radio if possible.
Check Antenna connections.

Check or adjust rudder settings.
If the pilot has trouble holding a course or struggles
In a following sea, the settings need to be increased.
Check rudder feedback unit next to steering gear.
Compass may not be properly swung.

Possible causes
Engine and shaft coupling alignment
The shaft itself
Strut bearings
Prop balance
Note: Bad injectors can also cause roughness or vibration.

Ask the Captain
The Checklist
Purchase Checklist

Purchase books, cards CDs and Calendars
Books, cards and prints
offered by author
Chris Couch
Compass Headings Publishing.