Batteries are a key component in your boat – they help you start the engine, run fridges, and provide lighting, to name a few. If they’re not working at their optimum levels, your next boating holiday could end up being a big disappointment.
Two weeks beforehand
About a fortnight before your trip, complete these tasks:
- Look up battery age: the older your batteries, the more likely they are to fail. Check your records to see when your batteries were last replaced. If more than three years ago, consider replacing them before your trip.
- Take your boat out: See how the boat starts from the batteries, rather than a dockside start from shore power. If you notice a sluggish start, the batteries might not be charging fully.
- Check alternators: a gauge on your boat’s dashboard shows the voltage output for each alternator. This should be around 13.8-14 volts when the engine is running.
- Check onboard battery charger: if you have shore power, you can monitor the charger function using the volt meter on the AC voltage distribution panel. This should be around 13.8-14 volts during charging.
- Check fluid levels: wet cell batteries require good levels of water to create an electrolytic reaction. If fluid levels are frequently low, the battery life will be severely shortened. If you see that one cell is significantly lower in fluid than others, it could be a sign that the water is being boiled dry in that cell, and the battery is about to fail.
A week beforehand
Around a week before your trip, complete these tasks:
- Inspect connections: check the conditions of the main cable connectors for each battery. Clean these if they look dirty.
- Have batteries tested: you can take your batteries to your usual boat maintenance shop (we regularly perform this service for customers) or to a battery shop to check their current function.
During the trip
If the vessel is equipped with a generator, run the generator with the battery charger on for at least 1 hour in every 4, to keep the batteries topped up and ready for action.