Are you one of the millions of boaters with spring fever, itching to get your vessel out of winter storage and back onto the water? If so, be sure to take the time to properly de-winterize and prepare your boat before taking it out for its first voyage of the season.
Having a spring ritual that includes recommended inspection, tune-up and cleaning of your boat before setting out on your first trip can help prevent a host of problems that could keep you off the water later in the season — not to mention, help keep you and everyone aboard safe during your adventures.
Following are some tips to help get your boat as ready as you are to hit the water this year.
Prepare for the Season Ahead
Use some of those pre-season days to plan for brighter days of boating ahead:
• Take a boat safety course, and obtain your boating certificate (if you have not already).
• Read your owner’s manual and consult the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance guidelines.
• Familiarize (or re-familiarize) yourself with your boat — its components, features and safety precautions.
Complete Your Pre-Launch Inspection and Maintenance
To help ensure a smooth, safe start to the boating season, have a trained technician or mechanic perform the recommended maintenance on your vessel. Whether or not you get a professional tune-up, be sure to complete the following checklist before leaving the dock:
• Inspect all of the safety equipment on board, including fire extinguishers, flares, personal flotation devices and first-aid kits, and repair, recharge and restock them as necessary.
• Check all lights on your boat to make sure they are in place and operating properly.
• Open the engine compartment to check for excess water in the bilge.
• Check for any electrical issues, such as loose, disconnected or corroded conductors.
• Check that the battery is properly secured to the vessel.
• Check the fuel tank for leaks, and ensure there is proper ventilation.
• Check the fuel filters to make sure no water is present.
• Fill your tank with the freshest, highest-quality fuel available.
• Change and check the oil level before starting the boat for the first time.
• If you will be towing your vessel to its launch point, you will also need to properly inspect and maintain your trailer prior to your first outing.
Get In, On and Out of the Water Safely
Once all tasks on your pre-launch checklist are complete, you can start your engine and get out on the water. It is important on your first, and every trip of the season, to:
• Follow safe launching practices.
• Monitor the engine temperature to make sure it is not overheating.
• Monitor the cooling system to make sure it is operating correctly.
• Ensure you and your passengers know and follow safe boating practices.
Remember: Every Vessel is Unique
The work required to get your boat water-ready will depend on whether it is used in fresh or salt water, its size, manufacturer, model, and the state in which it is registered. Be sure to get the information you need, then develop and follow the right spring ritual to help ensure every trip of the boating season is safe and fun for all.