13 Mar It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year: Getting Your Boat Ready For the Water
Ah spring has finally arrived at last. The weather is finally getting warmer, the sun is shining, and that ocean just seems to call out. Well, we all know what that means. Time to pull off that dust cover, slap on a fresh coat of wax, and get that boat out in the water! But wait! What about the internal systems? Are you sure all the water was drained out before you stored it for the season? Are the electrical systems all in fine working order?
Follow this helpful spring boat cheat sheet to make sure you and your loved ones have a safe and pleasurable trip the first time you bring your boat out this season.
Fuel Lines, Leaks, and You
During the prep for storage, the first step is draining the fuel from the engine. Once that is done the engine is bone dry right? Not necessarily so, there will always be that little bit of fuel along the lines. If you're using a fuel with a high enough Ethanol rating, you might just have gotten a little water into your engine as well over the past few months. That moisture can easily lead to things like weak lines, frozen ( and eventually broken) hoses, so check everything. If you're using a standard outboard motor, you will notice a small black (sometimes gray) rubber bulb attached to the lines. This is a "primer bulb" give it a few squeezes to pressurize the lines. Making it easier to see any cracks or signs of wear. Remember a good hose on a boat will be just like one on a car, it'll have some play but ultimately remain firm. Once certain there are no leaks or cracks anywhere, top off the engine with a good high octane fuel, and she'll be purring like a kitten. Be sure to also top her off with some new oil and always ALWAYS keep a spare filter and some oil in your boat in case of emergencies.
Batteries, wire sets, and all things that go ZAP
Remember that battery that was removed before the boat was taken out of the water last winter? Well odds are the charge might be a little lower now, so be sure to slap a voltmeter on that baby to check the charge. Odds are you're going to want to give it a little juice before installing. Letting the battery get a deep charge is always a good idea. Generally, a slow charge overnight is thought to be the best way. If after that you're still reading a low charge then replace. Clean off any corrosion seen on the terminals, wires, and harness to make sure of a good solid connection. Nothing is worse than trying to get the boat started, only to find no power can get through because of all the gunk on the cables.
Water pumps, Gears, and Cables
Let's be honest. These are usually a few of the items that aren't generally thought to be checked, even though they can easily lead to a million headaches when taking the boat out for the first time. Make sure all gears, throttle lines, transmission, etc. are in good working order and can move cleanly. If you have to fight it, it probably needs to be repaired. Now, how about the water pump? Are you aware that the average lifespan for a water pump impeller is only 1-3 years? If yours is getting close to that point, maybe it's time to consider replacing. Remember the engine desperately needs a constant flow of water for cooling purposes. Nothing says a ruined weekend like an overheated engine while out on the water. Otherwise just give everything a once-over, apply a little lubrication where necessary and enjoy!
DRAIN PLUG, DRAIN PLUG, DRAIN PLUG!
Literally the one thing every boater forgets at some time or another. How can something so small create so big a hassle? The drain plug is exactly what it sounds like. You remove it to drain water, what a concept! But if you forget to reinsert it all you'll find is a bunch of water when you finally launch. Not a fun time. So do everything you need to remind yourself. A sticky note on the boat, a reminder on your phone. Whatever it is, just remember to RE-INSTALL THAT DRAIN PLUG!
As we all know boating is one of those simple pleasures in life. Though just because the act is simple doesn't mean routine care is. As always if you're unsure about how to perform any of the above steps go see a licensed professional. They will be more than happy to make sure you and all your loved ones have a happy, and safe boating season this year.