Who can imagine a fate worse than loading your boat up with friends and supplies for that first cruise around the inlet since last fall, only to hear the engine sputter … but never catch. Spring is the ideal time to give your vessel a thorough once over, ensuring that everything is in good working order and that all necessary safety equipment is in place.
Anyone who has seen a broken down trailer on the side of the road knows that the only safe alternative is regular checks of the tool you so heavily rely upon.
- Look for cracks in the frame.
- Examine the rollers for wear and tear.
- Check the lights, making sure you remember the brake lights and turn signals.
- Check the winch strap for signs of fraying.
- Take a look at the tie down straps for damage.
- Look over the coupler and latch assembly as well as the hitch on your towing vehicle.
Once that tarp or cover is removed, give the boat a good overall cleaning and visual check for any issues with the hull. Also look for missing or loose rivets.
- Check the bilge area for debris and install your drain plug. Test the pump.
- This is a great time to reload the boat with all the things that were removed for winter storage – seats, first aid kids, fire extinguishers, flares, life vests … examining everything for issues as you put them away. Life vests can be washed and treated with a mildew deterrent for longer life.
- Look over hatch hinges and oil as necessary.
- Check battery fluid levels and top off as necessary. Check terminals for any type of corrosion. Reattach cables if removed during winterization.
- Reconnect any electronics – lights, GPS, radio, fish finders, etc…
Once everything else is in order, it’s time to get down to the nuts and bolts of your operation.
- Install fresh spark plugs in the engine and keep an extra set in your onboard emergency kit.
- Check all fluid levels and top off as necessary. If you didn’t change the oil when the boat was winterized, this is a great time to do so.
- Lubricate moving parts, including the steering, throttle and shifting mechanisms.
- Grease the splines on the propeller shaft with the recommended marine grease.
- Reconnect fuel lines, paying special attention to the line and hose clamps.
- If you drained the cooling system before the winter, fill it back up and check the hoses and clamps.
- Change the fuel filter and examine the hose and clamps for signs of wear.
- Clean out the distributor cap to make sure no corrosion has happened during the winter months.
- Look over the belts for wear and tear and replace as necessary. Make sure they fit snuggly.
With all that hard work behind you – it’s time to enjoy the fruits of your labor. Happy boating