It seems more and more restorations we're doing are for first time classic wood boaters. They've always admired these classic boats from afar, and decided to finally take the step of owning one. I think this is great. Sure, we appreciate the work, but more so for the fact that more and more people are discovering this great hobby of ours. This is necessary for the perpetuation of our boats and hobby well into the future. Many of these new owners are younger, but not always so. Regardless of age we always get the same questions. So, here are a few tips to owning and operating these beautiful old craft.
Be respectful of her age. Even though you may have just finished a complete restoration or perhaps only a new bottom, she is still an old boat...many times older than we are. Take it easy on the water and avoid pounding her at high speeds. They weren't designed to take that kind of abuse. Make it a practice to monitor your gauges on a regular basis. Out of habit now I check my gauges at least once every few minutes. Oil pressure and temperature are the most important.
Check to see how much water is in the bilge. A small amount in the bilge is normal if your shaft log is adjusted properly. Even my friend's Ski-Nautique has some water in it. If you have more than an inch or so then something needs looked at. More often than not it's one of the thru-hull fittings (stuffing boxes, bilge plug, water pick-up, etc.). I've also seen engine hose clamps work loose, resulting water coming from the engine into the bilge.
Most important, open your engine box or hatch for at least a minute before starting the engine, and then stick your head down there and take a big whiff for strong gas odors. Start the engine with the hatch open and let it run a minute before closing it. Check your fuel lines often for loose fittings and/or leaky lines. It doesn't take much to create an unfortunate explosion or fire. Listen to the engine, after awhile you will become familiar with normal sounds. If something doesn't sound or 'feel' right, then check it out. If there is something that needs attention, putting if off only worsens the problem.
Ok, enough of the advise/lecturing. I realize this is what most are already doing, but as I often tell new owners, remember two mottos and live by them while boating. Better safe than sorry, and let common sense rule the day.