Dinghy sailor Pippa Wilson gives her top winter boat checks

Pippa WilsonHull

Clean hull and spars and perhaps polish, to get them looking smart and fill you with enthusiasm for next season

Check hull for scratches/dings and check under gunnels for damage.

Blocks

Check all blocks are clean and spinning freely.

Try to keep a record of how long you have had each block in its application (yearly).

Soak ratchet blocks in very hot water; this will clean the salt and dirt!

Check blocks for damage and wear.

Check:

* Shackles and head posts for cracking.

* Sheaves running smoothly.

* Split rings are intact and fully secure.

* Tracks running freely, thoroughly clean and McLube.

* Check teeth on cam cleats for wear. Open both jaws to check they spring back properly

Rope/Elastic

Worn ropes – especially around areas where the rope is either hidden within mast or under deck. It is important to look for the rope that could be rubbing on something continuously. Replace everything you are not sure about and it will give you the confidence it won’t break. Check all attachments from rope to blocks, especially if the block has a sharp edge to it, as rope tends to wear out quickly. Check all the elastic is still functioning. Splice any ropes possible to add to the strength of the system. Check the rope for holding the rudder down.

General

Universal joint on tiller extension.

Check packing for centreboard/rudder is secure.

Check the slot gasket (check and probably replace more than yearly unless you are very lucky!)

Check taped items; it is never obvious what is happening underneath.

Check mast, take off fittings, and make sure they are in good condition.

Check for cracks around the fitting point and apply small amount of zinc oxide or tef gel to the screw/hole to prevent further corrosion.

Check trapeze rings for cracks around joints and replace if old (they do snap).

Make up spares for everything you can. So if something does break and you are in competition, you can replace easy without stress.

Make sure your toolbox has the right tools and spare blocks for every system on your boat.

Be prepared.