You have life jackets. You have all the necessary safety equipment. But is your boat ready to take out on the water? You wouldn’t drive a car with bad brakes, so why take a boat out if it’s in bad condition? If you winterize your boat at the end of each boating season, you will likely avoid problems and possibly costly repairs in the spring. Here are a few things you should always check before you put your boat in the water:
• Do a visual check to make sure you don’t see any holes in the boat, rust or corrosion.
• Check the spark plugs, battery and oil at the beginning of each season and monitor fluid levels.
• Make sure all fittings are tight and ropes are not frayed.
• Be sure the bilge pump is functioning properly.
• Make sure the electrical system is dry and not corroded.
• Be sure hoses are in good condition.
• Make sure your trailer works properly, including brake and signal lights.
• Make sure the lights, horn and radio work.
After your outing, there are steps you should take to keep your boat in good condition as well:
• Make sure you flush the engine, even if you only took your boat out in fresh water.
• Wash and wax it periodically to prevent buildup of salt, grime and barnacles. (This is imperative if you took your boat out in salt water.)
• Put a cover on your boat when it’s not in use for protection from the elements. (As a bonus, covering it also enables you to store life jackets, coolers, sunscreen and other similar items inside.)
Although it may seem like there’s a lot on these lists, they are not all-inclusive. The best way to make sure your boat is water-ready in the spring is to have it professionally inspected and take care of any issues before you take it out.