How to Get Your Boat Ready for Spring
Spring is finally here, and for me, Matthew Davies, that means boating season is just around the corner. If your usual plan is to take your boat to a professional to de-winterize it, you need to know that doing so may cost more than it needs to. Getting your boat ready for spring by yourself is the much more affordable option. Moreover, you will traverse the high seas — or your local fishing pond — with a more thorough knowledge of your boat.
While de-winterizing your boat can be somewhat of a challenge, this article will give you the basic knowledge and courage to at least give it a try. So, where are you even supposed to start? Having this handy checklist at your disposal will make the job much more manageable and set you up for success — both now and for the rest of the season. Let’s take a look at some of the things you are going to need to do before you take your boat out on the water for the first time this year.
- Inspect the Hull
Generally speaking, boat owners will wrap their boats in the winter. This protects the boat from anything that may harm it. If the boat is stored outside, the snow, wind, rain, and everything else mother nature throws at it throughout winter has the potential to harm the finish.
After you unwrap or uncover your boat, the first matter of business is to inspect the hull. Check for any moisture penetration, cracks, or damage and meticulously evaluate the paint job for scratches. Additionally, you should also replace the hull zincs. This is especially important if they are 50% or more depleted. Doing this will extend the life of your boat’s hull, engine, propeller, rudder, and any other metal components the ship may have. Besides, changing them now means you will not have to worry about repeating the process in the middle of the fishing season.
- Check the Engine and Other Parts
Since your boat has been sitting all winter, many of its parts may have become stagnate. One such part is your engine. Before you take your boat out on the water for the first time this season, you are going to need to change the oil and filter. During the winter, the oil will have lost its consistency. The reason is the cold weather and lack of use messes with the viscosity. Normally oil flows like a syrup or molasses. After sitting all winter, it will likely become more jelly-like.
There is also a likelihood that water may have seeped into the engine. This is caused by condensation. While your boat is wrapped, it will retain heat – much like when we cover ourselves with a blanket. However, at night the temperature will drop considerably. This will cause water to form inside the wrapping. This water has the potential of finding its way to the engine.
The last thing you will want to do is connect your battery. Make sure it is securely in the box and that all electrical connections are intact.
- Update Safety Gear
Most states have policies and procedures concerning safety equipment such as life jackets, flares, fire extinguishers, and the like. For instance, most cities always require all children under the age of 13 to wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved personal flotation device. Give your gear a good once over and check for wear and tear. Be sure to add a few more life vests if your family has grown or you expect visitors this summer. You should also check bilge blowers and pumps to guarantee they are still functioning correctly.
- Wax and Paint
While it is recommended to wax your boat before you put it away for the winter, the truth is, many boat owners fail to do so. Should you be one of the boat owners that does not wax before winter, make sure you do this now. You will want to use marine paste-wax on the topside surfaces except for non-skid deck areas. I suggest using the same solution on a hull, as it will last longer than all-in-one products. Moreover, if you paint the shell, or plan to do so this season, decide whether you need to strip the old paint and sand the hull before applying paint. You will want to tape the waterline and around all metal parts before painting.
- Inspect Your Trailer
You will want to put as much care into inspecting your trailer as you did into inspecting your boat. A few things you will want to check are the rollers and pads, wheel bearings, and test the lights. Should you find any problems, make sure to address them right away. Don’t forget to carefully inspect the tire pressure as well and test the brakes. I suggest that you practice driving around the block a few times before you take the boat to the harbor. You would be surprised by how much you may have forgotten about towing a trailer in the few months of winter.
- Check for Leaks
Finally, if you were not able to store your boat properly, you will want to take extra precautions. Leaks can be hard to notice while on dry land, depending on the type of boat you have. For example, it is a lot easier to detect a potential leak in wooden boats. Either way, check your boat for leaks as best you can on dry land. Then, take the boat to the marina and launch her. Take the boat to shallow water away from the boat launch and let her sit for a few hours. If you don’t notice any leaks, then you should be good to go.
I, Matthew Davies, hope that you have found this checklist beneficial. Remember not only to check the boat once but at least twice. The more eyes that you can have on your boat, the better off you will be. If you’re unsure about anything or if you encounter something you think might be a problem, you can always fall back on taking the boat to a trusted professional for peace of mind.