Get Your Boat Ready for Summer
Follow these maintenance tips for a great season on the water.
When the temperatures climb and winter loosens its icy grip, boaters start thinking of taking their vessels from storage and getting ready for a new season on the water.
If you’ve got a boat, you’ll want to go over it fore and aft, port to starboard, before the season starts. Getting ready is more than just washing off winter’s dust and dirt. It means checking all systems to make sure they’re working properly and safely to prevent problems or injury.
Here are some tips to follow to get your boat ready. Before starting, always follow your manufacturer’s guidelines and specifications.
- Cleaning – This is a good opportunity to go over the interior and exterior to look for any damage. While you’re cleaning, check all surfaces for damage or excessive wear. Be sure to use an environmentally safe cleaning solution recommended for boats.
- Fuel system – Inspect for leaks or damage and pay special attention to hoses, connections and tank surfaces. Replace worn or damaged components and verify all fittings and clamps are properly secured. Make sure the engine, exhaust and ventilation systems are all functioning properly.
- Belts, cables and hoses – These items can become brittle and crack during storage. Check belts to make sure they fit tightly around pulleys. Inspect control cables for cracks or swelling. This may be a sign they need to be replaced.
- Electrical system - Inspect all connections for cleanliness and tightness. Corrosion is a sign a connection may not be secure. To prepare electrical connections for the summer, remove the terminals and use a wire brush to clean them, along with all cable ends. Test your battery to make sure it can hold a charge. Also test components such as the radio, GPS, compass, depth finder and all other marine electronics.
- Engine and drivetrain - Check oil, power steering, power trim and coolant levels. If you didn’t do so when your boat went into storage, change the engine oil, oil filter and outdrive lubricants. Also, check spark plugs and wiring for signs of excessive wear or damage.
- Sails – If your boat moves by sail, check fabric for wear, decay or other damage. Check masts, pulleys and rigging for damage or excessive wear. Repair or replace as necessary.
- Propellers - Inspect for dings, pitting, cracks and distortion. Damaged propellers can harm your drive train. Make sure the propeller is secured properly, and replace bearings when needed.
- Hull - Look for blisters, distortions and cracks.
- Metal and wood – Neglected metal and wood can result in pitting and may compromise their integrity.
- Life jackets - Check all life jackets to ensure they are in good condition and that there are enough for all passengers. Make sure each passenger has the correct size life jacket for their body weight.
- Fire extinguishers - Be sure all onboard fire extinguishers are the correct size and type for your boat, are fully charged and are stowed in the proper place.
- Trailer - If you keep your boat on a trailer, make sure all rollers, bearings, lights, tie-downs and winches are in good working order. If your state requires trailer registration, make sure that is current.
- Water toys – This is also a good time to check any wakeboards, skis and other water sports equipment to see if anything needs repair.
If you’re not sure how to do these safety checks yourself, or if you don’t have the right tools, have your boat serviced by a local, reputable mechanic. Investing a little time before the season to get your boat ready for the summer goes a long way toward having a safe and relaxing summer on the water.
Once out on the water, here are some boating safety tips for a fun – and safe – season.