The used 38-foot express was pristine, and after a pre-purchase sea trial and inspection I gave my buddy a thumbs up.
He was pissed.
“What about the teak in the salon? It’s streaky!”
He was referring to the variation in color of the wood’s grain. When installed as cockpit sole or covering boards, teak is oxidized by the sun, which blends these natural variations into an even gold. Inside a cabin, it often looks the way it does straight from the tree: striped.
“Consider it character and go cruising,” I responded. “It’s a boat. A real problem will present itself soon enough.”
With that thought in mind, make these five checks during your first run this spring. Real problems aren’t always blatantly visible.
Check the idle speed, both in neutral and in gear. Rough, high or low idling might soon develop into stalling or chipped gears, which could compromise your safety were the engine to shut down while approaching a dock.
Healthy engines should turn up to their maximum-rated rpm range. Spring, when the air is cool and before the boat is laden with the weight of crew and clutter, is the best time to check wide-open throttle rpm. Cool air is denser, providing better combustion, and less weight equals more rpm, so it’s OK if your springtime wide-open throttle reading is a tad high — it will drop as temperature and the weight of gear and crew increase. If the motor isn’t hitting the marks, you may have a drive train, fuel delivery or ignition problem waiting to leave you stranded.