Summer is prime boating time. There is perfect weather for plowing through the water in your boat, waterskiing, fishing and just enjoying being on the water. However you use your boat, this is the time to get the most out of it. So, if you haven’t already done it, now is a good time to get your boat out of storage and have some fun. But wait, before you slip your boat into the water, there are a couple of things you need to take care of first. Statistics show that the first couple times you take your boat in the water after winter storage are the riskiest. There are more breakdowns, more accidents, and more boats sinking at this time than any other. Take a little time now to make sure your vessel is seaworthy. A little bit of preparation will make sure you have a good time on the water and avoid any possible mishaps. Here are some things you should do before you get your boat in the water:
Prep Your Boat for Winter Storage
Wait a second you say, this isn’t an article on how to store your boat for the winter…the winter is over now and I just want to enjoy my boat. Well, that is true; however, storing your boat properly over the winter is a crucial step toward enjoying your boat in the spring and summer. Proper storage during the winter will make sure your boat is in the best possible shape come spring. We can’t stress this enough, so if you need a refresher to get ready for next winter, check out this article on storing your boat for the winter.
Check Out Your Boat
You should look over your boat very closely as soon as you take it out of storage. Make sure to carefully examine all the critical systems of your boat; mechanical, electrical, etc. Here are some of the most important things to look over and fix if needed.
Engine & Fuel System
• Inspect the fuel lines and vent hoses for leaks, damage, or wear
• Examine the fuel tank, pump, and filters and look for leaks
• Inspect belts, cables, and hoses for wear
• Replace the spark plugs
• Check & top off the fluids: oil, coolant, etc.
• Make sure the battery is in good condition and charged
• Clean and tighten the battery connections
• Examine electrical wiring for wear
• Coat electrical fittings with waterproofing
Mechanical & Structural
• Check all bolts, screws, and fittings to make sure they are secure
• Look over the hull for sun damage and hairline cracks that need to be patched
• Clean & wax the hull to protect from sun damage and cracks
• Examine your propeller for any damage. Tighten the propeller shaft and nut and grease the assembly
• Inspect the dock lines and anchor lines for wear
Check Out Your Trailer
You are depending on your trailer to transport your boat to the water and to put it in. It is very important to inspect your trailer as well, to make sure it is in working order. Here are some things to look at.
• Inspect the tires for cracking or excessive wear and replace if necessary. Also make sure that the air pressure is ok.
• Test the trailer’s turn signals and brake lights to make sure they are functioning correctly.
• Check your winch for wear. Lubricate the winch and make sure the winch straps and chains are not overly worn.
• Make sure that the coupler latch is working properly
• Check the rollers/bunks to make sure they are working correctly
Double Check Your Safety Supplies
As a boat owner, safety should be your number one priority. Before you head out on the water, check, and double check your safety gear to make sure everything is in order and ready to go if needed. Make sure that you have enough life jackets on board for each passenger and that they are all in good condition. Also, make sure that you have a charged fire extinguisher that is easily accessible.
Get Your Papers in Order
Nothing will ruin your boating fun faster than getting a citation for having expired registration. Make sure before you get in the water that your boating license and registration are up-to-date and safely stored in a waterproof place. You should also make sure that you have the most recent charts and waterway guides.
Get in the Water
Now that you have checked everything out and prepped your boat, it is time to enjoy it. This is what you have waited all winter for. So, what are you waiting for? Get that boat in the water and start having fun!