Spring means boating season, but before you head out onto the water, make sure you and your boat are ready. A little bit of work now will help prevent a stalled boat sitting useless in the middle of the water. With minimal work, you can be ready for fishing, cruising, or just enjoying the water.
First off, check to make sure your battery is in solid working condition. Ideally, you should have gone through winter prep, but if you didn’t, and your battery is dead, it’s usually an easy fix. Remove the battery to recharge, first taking note of any corrosion, or if the water level is low. Clean off corrosion, and add distilled water as needed, and trickle charge your battery overnight.
Inspect your boat for any damage that could have happened, or become noticeable, over the winter. Much like a car, check for dents, cracks, and leaking fluids. Check your fuel filter and water separator, and drain the water if needed. Check the oil to make sure it is at the proper level. Change it if you didn’t at the end of last season. Same with the spark plugs and air filters. Hit all exposed metal parts with your favorite water-dispersal fluid. Check all fluid lines and electric connections, making sure they are all tight. Add some fresh proper octane fuel (preferably ethanol-free), and you should be all set.
It’s a good idea to check the lights on the trailer too, as you don’t want to get pulled over for lack of brake lights before even getting to the water. Give all your safety gear a once-over to make sure it is all there, and undamaged.
Speaking of safety, there were 560 boating fatalities in 2013, most of which could have been prevented. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the National Safe Boating Council have partnered to create and promote Safe Boating Week, May 16 – 22. NOAA reminds you to check with the National Weather Service and have working communications equipment before heading out, and NSBC wants to make sure you have the proper safety gear, and boat responsibly.
“What looks like a perfect day for boating can quickly become hazardous if you end up in the water,” said Rachel Johnson, executive director of the National Safe Boating Council, said in a press release. “You can have a great time while choosing to always wear a life jacket and being a responsible boater.”
The National Safe Boating Council offers free information online, hosts training classes around the US and Canada, and even offers discounted lifejackets. Remember your passengers, and have enough on hand for everyone. Be responsible, and if you are going to drink, don’t be the one at the controls.
Boating season is here, so make it a safe and enjoyable time.