Your Spring Boat Checklist

A warm deck beneath your feet and beckoning waves ahead. It must be spring boating season!

If you store your boat during the chilly months, or are simply giving it a routine check-up, this maintenance checklist can help get you ready for another season of adventures on the water.

  1. Trailer tires and lights: Check that your trailer tires are properly inflated and, after your trailer is hooked up to your vehicle, check that its lights work.
  2. Propeller: Check to make sure it’s attached securely and in good condition. Bonus points for having a spare!
  3. Bilge: Run the bilge pump to make sure it works and to empty any antifreeze.
  4. Lines, masts, and anchors: Check that the lines you use for docking or mooring your boat are in good condition, and anchors are attached to their lines and safely stored. Check masts, pulleys, and replace or repair any damaged rigging.
  5. Battery and electrical:
    • Remove electrical connections to the battery and use a wire brush to clean them.
    • Check your battery strength. (Some people prefer to buy a new battery every summer for safety.)
    • After your battery is connected, check the electrical systems (GPS, bilge pump, lights, trim, blowers, depth finder, compass, and radio).
  6. Engine and drivetrain:
    • Check Fluid (oil, steering fluid, coolant and power trim) levels.
    • Change the engine oil, oil filter, and outdrive lubricant if it wasn't done in the fall.
    • Change spark plugs and check wiring for wear and damage.
  7. Fuel system:
    • Many experts recommend your boat be stored with a full gas tank. If it wasn’t, fill it up.
    • Check for gas leaks and damage to hoses, connections, and your gas tank’s surface.
    • Make sure exhaust and ventilation systems work properly.
  8. Belts, cables, and hoses: Make sure they’re in good shape, without cracks or holes.  A little give in belts is okay, but replace them if they have more than a half-inch of play. Black soot near the pulley is also a sign of a loose belt.
  9. Cleaning:
    • Hull: Inspect the surface and repair any blisters or cracks.  Your probably waxed your boat in the fall, as recommended; you can wax it now if it wasn’t.   
    • Interior: Clean and oil teak, and shine brass and other metals. Wipe down all surfaces including the floor, storage units, and cup holders with a damp rag. Shampoo and vacuum all carpets before snapping them in place.
    • Sails and covers: Scrub and rinse all sails and boat covers, and let air dry. Repair any tears or missing snaps. Check masts, pulleys, and rigging for damage or excessive wear, and replace as needed.
  10. Water System/Head: Run water through your waste and water storage systems to rinse and remove any antifreeze. Flush the head and turn on showers and faucets until the water runs clear.  Then add fresh water to your water system until it’s full.
  11. Repack your boat with:
    • Life jackets, including several throwable devices.
    • An emergency kit (bottled water, blanket, extra jackets and hats, flares, flashlight, batteries, first-aid kit, towels, sunscreen, fire extinguisher, tools, rags).
    • Water skis, tow ropes, and water toys.
    • Maps and any needed launch, lock, or marina passes.

Once your boat is in the water, use our boating safety tips for a fun – and safe – season.

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