Taking the Wraps off winter – And Your Boat
Are you ready for spring? We all know the answer to that question. But our boats need to be as well. As we prepare to spend more time outside – and on the water – here are a few spring boat preps you may want to undertake before your first voyage of the season.
Regardless of the age or condition of your boat, or how and where you store it, after months under cover, your boat, motor, and trailer perhaps, are due for some TLC.
After you take the cover off for the first time this spring, give your boat a thorough visual inspection, including the engine area. Look closely for any damage to wires and hoses, as well as for evidence of nests and other things that might indicate your boat was a “critter motel” for the winter.
Fuel hoses, clamps, fittings, and fill caps should all be in good shape with no seepage, cracking, or deterioration.
Obviously we use fuel stabilizer during our winterization process for customer boats, buy you’ll want to make sure your fuel is not varnished, contaminated, or stale smelling. And you’ll of course want to get fresh fuel in your boat the first time out.
Safety equipment such as horns, fire extinguishers, and life jackets are important. Make sure everything is working and on board. Your fire extinguisher has an expiration date, so check that. The water patrol will if they ever stop you.
For sure, charge your battery, or at the very least, test it to make sure it has plenty of juice for that first start. Cables and terminals should be clean and free of corrosion. Most of us have likely been around the launch ramp in the spring, watched as a boat slid off the trailer and into the water, and then heard that dreaded click. Don’t be that guy!
Wash Away the winter
Spring is a fantastic time to wash, wax, vacuum and detail your boat, getting the grunge from winter cleaned off.
But be sure to use the right products that are designed for specific uses, such as bird stain removal, mold removal, vinyl cleaners and conditioners, and most importantly, are purpose-made for use on your boat’s interior and exterior.
We use, sell and recommend products from Starbrite, Maguire’s, Wizards, Babe’s and Boat Bling, to name a few. Never use non-marine cleaners on your boat though. Products designed for automobiles can damage your boat’s vinyl or gelcoat.
If you can’t remember the last time you changed your impeller, your prop is looking a little worse for wear, or that drive belt is a bit sketchy, bring your boat in for service (the sooner the better!) and we’ll make sure you are ready to go.
Check your registration! Even the most well-prepared and best-intentioned boater can sometimes forget a detail like this. Make sure all your decals are current. This is one of the most obvious things the water patrol will stop you for.
Even if your boat lives on a lift, don't forget an annual trailer inspection. Lights, wheel bearings, bunks, tire condition, brakes, and tire pressures are all things that may need attention.
Lastly, make it a family affair. There isn’t any reason dad has to be out there by himself doing all this stuff. Ask for help, and then turn over an appropriate amount of responsibility for a specific task. Showing, rather than telling, is the best way to teach kids to take care of nice things, like boats.
Let us know if we can do anything to make the start of your boating season more enjoyable, or hassle-free. And let’s all think spring!