The snow has melted and the ice on the lake is gone, which means boating season is right around the corner! Many boaters take this time of year to do some boat cleaning. However, it’s easy to overlook maintenance chores that could potentially leave you stuck out on the water and looking for a tow. Here are six of the most important spring boating preparations to make before you hitch up and head out.
1. Prop and Hull
The best place to start is the outside of your boat. Inspect the hull for any cracks, blisters or other damage and then give it a good cleaning with an environmentally safe cleaner. Once you’ve looked over the hull, check the propeller for dings, dents or chips that can create vibration and damage the drive train.
Just like your automobile, your boat can use an oil change. If you didn’t do it before you put the boat away for the winter, swap out the oil and filter and drive lubricants. Also, check all fluids and top off your power steering, trim reservoirs and coolant to ensure your boat operates at the top of its game.
Start off your electrical inspection at the source. Test and charge your battery to make sure it’s in good condition. If it isn’t, replace it. Also, clean off any corrosion that’s built up around the terminals with a wire brush and then inspect all electrical connections throughout the boat to make sure they’re tight and free of corrosion.
4. Belts, Hoses and Cables
A component failure is the number-one cause of breakdowns out on the water, so now is a great time to check all of your belts, hoses and cables and replace them if needed. Look for cracks or slippage and make sure that everything is in good condition and nice and tight.
Hopefully you drained the fuel or put stabilizer in it back in the fall, but even if you didn’t, now is a good time to inspect the entire fuel system. Look for any leaks in the lines and make sure they aren’t brittle or cracked. Check clamps and fittings and make sure they’re tight and won’t leak. Also, make sure the intake and exhaust systems are clear and functioning properly.
6. Safety and First Aid
The last thing to check before you head out is your safety gear. Be sure your life jackets are in good shape and that you have enough for everyone that will be going out on the boat. Make sure your onboard fire extinguisher is charged and working properly and your first aid kit is replenished from last year. If you boat on the sea, it’s also not a bad idea to contact your local U.S. Coast Guard to take advantage of any free safety inspections they offer.
Boating is a great way to relax and spend time with your family and friends, and springtime is a great opportunity to prepare your boat for the season ahead and make sure it’s in tip-top shape.
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Erich Reichert has been an editor and on-air personality in the radio control car hobby for 12 years. A certified car nut since birth, he has written for internationally published titles such as RC Car Action, RC Driver and Xtreme RC Cars, as well as Stuff Magazine, Road and Track and Super Street. He's covered everything from product reviews and tech articles to high-profile lifestyle pieces and celebrity interviews. Erich found his passion for writing after a successful career as an art director, working with brands such as Pepsico, NASCAR, MTV, Nintendo, WWE, Cannondale Bicycles and HBO. He's also a father, an avid hockey fan and an FIA race license holder who enjoys hiking, playing drums and movies.