There’s an old saying in boating that the two best days of owning a boat are the day you buy it and the day you get rid of it. I’m not one to agree with this, necessarily, as I spend all the time I can on the water. There are however a few simple spring check-ups you can do to ensure you’ll enjoy your time on the water without worries.
1.The Boat Battery
A battery check is simple insurance against needing to find a likely candidate to tow your vessel back to the dock. There a several types of battery testers available but be sure to use one for your 12 volt systems. Testing each battery you have on board is imperative, especially if they are over 3 years old. At this point, batteries can start to wear and not hold their charge as they did when new. You will see this in your deep cell trolling motor batteries so be sure to check them and if they need replaced, this investment can keep you worry free for a few more years.
2. The Fuel System
Just as important as batteries, your fuel system should be given a quick check to ensure there are no cracked and leaking fuel lines. Not only will this affect your fuel system performance but can be extremely dangerous to on board fires. Make sure you visually inspect the lines and fittings from the tank connection to the engine connection.
3. The Safety Equipment
Following these two quick inspections, I go over my on board safety equipment. Both your fire extinguisher and signal flares have expiration dates. If they are overdue they need replaced. Fire extinguishers have a longer life span than either hand or gun launched flares but often go uninspected under the assumption they are good for life. Not only is neglecting your extinguisher potentially dangerous but it can lead to a stiff fine if you’re inspected by the U.S. Coast Guard. See also Boat Lift Maintenance
4. The On-Board Systems
A quick systems check including navigation and anchor lights comes next. These often get corrosion built up on the pins during storage and may need a quick cleaning. Applying a LIGHT coat of petroleum jelly will protect these from corrosion without shorting out your lighting system.
5. Little Critters
Often during winter storage little critters may take up residence in your vessel. A quick visual inspection of your anchor and docking lines prior to your first launch of the spring can save you from an unwanted surprise at the dock or a lost anchor if something has chewed on your stowed lines.
6. The Boat Trailer
My last inspection is on my trailer with a quick walk around to visually inspect the structural integrity of trailer structure, the bunks or rollers for wear and of course your tires. The last thing you need is a blow out on your way to your cabin or lake. The light system on your trailer also needs checked with connection to your tow vehicle to ensure all lights are operating for your safety. This can be an entire topic in itself if you need to rewire your trailer or harness but in short it’s important to know all of your lights are in working order prior to towing it onto the highway.
If you follow these few quick steps you’ve gone a long way to enjoying your first outing of the spring and avoiding the frustrations of failed systems. I have followed this process every spring and have had many more than two favorite days on the water. Happy Boating!