The winter that seemed like it would never end, has finally ended. Warmer weather means boating season! If you have not even looked at your boat since it last touched water last fall, you have some work to do. Fear not friend; follow this handy checklist for advice on how to get your boat back in the water, and running like new.
Take a quick look over (or, in this case, under) your boat. Leaks can be nasty things, so make sure you won’t have any this spring. Look for the obvious cracks and dents, but also blisters or residue. If you find any damage, repair and reseal before it hits the water again. Restoring a boat’s gel-coat is not hard, but can be time consuming. YouTube offers many handy videos to guide you through it, like this one.
Just like a car or motorcycle that wasn’t used all winter, spring is time for a full tune up of your boat. Change the oil, paying attention to see if there is water mixed in from condensation. Replace with fresh oil, oil filter, and change the air filter while you are at it. It is probably time to change the spark plugs too, and test and adjust the throttle linkages as necessary. Refill the tank with quality gas (no Ethanol), and you’re set. If you need more help, why subscribe to the instantly accessible Clymer online manual for your boat, that you can access via your smartphone or tablet
Impellers are not as bad as they were years ago, and have evolved from the “must change every season” item, to more of a monitor temperatures and change as needed item. Basically, change it out if you know you are hard on your engine, did not monitor it all that well last season, or just want peace of mind. They are not expensive, and doing it in your spring tune-up could possibly save you some expensive repairs down the road.
Batteries do not like to sit and lay dormant all winter. Check the voltage with a volt meter, and recharge if it tests low. Trickle charge to avoid further damage, and test it again. If it still reads low, replace it. Boaters seem to like replacing batteries if they are two years old, but if it is holding a solid charge, keep on using it. If you are really serious about maintenance, inspect the ignition system and spark plug wires for damage. Also, this is a good reminder to check the other electronics like the radio, fish and depth finders, GPS, and such.
Don’t forget the cabin, as this is where you will be spending the majority of your time. Use marine-approved cleaners, and scrub down everything on the deck. Follow up with wax on the wood and painted surfaces. If you have a galley, take the vacuum to it, and follow up with a bottle of Febreze if it is stuffy.
Sure, boat maintenance is not really fun, but spending the time and a few bucks now could help save thousands of dollars in repair bills and a lot of down time. Taking the time now to properly prepare your boat will help ensure an awesome boating season with more days of enjoying life on the water.
Most of our marine manuals are available in online format, but they are all still available in the traditional book version that can be stowed with your tools for any emergency, on the water or back at the boathouse.