You’re counting down the days until you can get your boat back out on the water this spring, dreaming about catching some rays, fishing, skiing and hanging out with friends. Before you can enjoy all that however, it’s important that you prepare your boat and anyone who’ll be on it so that you can have the best possible experience.
Before you even think about hitting the water you must properly de-winterize your boat’s engine. Change the oil if you didn’t take care of that little item when you covered the boat at the end of summer – or fall if the weather permitted. Change the oil filter too and also change the oil in the transmission or the outboard’s lower unit. Flush the cooling system, replacing antifreeze with a water/coolant combination and also install new batteries before putting the engine through its paces.
As for the boat itself, give the hull a good look, checking for cracks, blisters and chips, repairing anything that looks questionable. Clean the boat’s exterior (make sure you use a safe cleaning product from a marine supply store) and then restore the boat’s gelcoat, which will help prevent oxidation, and repeat as necessary over the summer.
Don’t forget to check your covers, seats and any other canvas and vinyl to make sure they aren’t ripped. Also, test all the electronics, particularly the radio, depth finder, compass and GPS.
When it comes to life jackets don’t scrimp. Buy good quality, brightly colored jackets with sturdy waist and crotch straps and a handle on the collar. Most important, though, is being diligent about making everybody on the boat wear one. Never go boating without outfitting everyone with a life jacket. Regarding other safety equipment, make sure your fire extinguishers and flares are in working order.
While making sure the boat is in good working order is important, it’s also essential to remember that not everyone you take out on the water may be an experienced boater. Give passengers a rundown of boating basics and safety precautions. Two final things: always make sure someone on land knows where you’re going and when you expect to be back and always be aware of the weather and any possible changes that could be coming your way while you’re on the water. Make sure too that everybody has the proper clothing and shoes in the event of rain or rough waters.
From readying the boat to prepping your passengers, to have the best experience possible once you drop the boat in the water for the first time this spring, just follow these simple suggestions and guidelines. And then just sit back and enjoy!