How to Get Your Boat Ready for Spring

Longer days and warmer weather mean that soon enough, you will be sailing out on the water. Even if you fully winterized your boat, it’s not ready to go right out of storage. Pests could have found a home inside during winter, mildew may be growing on the exterior and you could discover unexpected cracks have been letting moisture in. Before you hit the docks, make a checklist with the following points.
1. Do a Visual Inspection
Did the canvas or tarp covering your boat last the full season? If not, moisture and UV rays could have affected the vessel over the last few months. When you take off the material, make sure to:

  • Check for cracks in the hull and faded or cracked paint.
  • Examine the tightness and lubrication of all fittings and screws.
  • Thoroughly clean off all dust and mildew.
  • Look for and remove any pests or abandoned nests.
  • Check the trailer supports, wiring and lights.
  • Look for water accumulation. If rain and snow seeped into the bilge, it will need to be pumped out.

The issues you find will determine the kind of maintenance your boat needs. Once out of storage, you may need to:

  • Clean and wax the hull
  • Re-paint the exterior
  • Repair any cracks

In the process, be sure to use marine-only cleaners. Any solution designed for a car could damage your boat’s exterior.
2. Go Over the Safety Features
Always be prepared for potential emergencies, so you don’t find yourself in a situation without the proper safety gear. Take inventory of your boat supplies and make sure everything is clean, working and up-to-date:

  • Check the expiration and compliancy of flares, flotation devices and extinguishers.
  • Check on-board storage spaces for dust and mildew. Remove items no longer in use.
  • Check all navigation lights and the horn work.
  • Review the first aid kit for essential supplies.
  • Make sure your life jackets are compliant and in good condition.

3. Electrical and Engine Maintenance
Your boat might look good, but how does it run? Rather than discover a problem while off shore, do a thorough inspection of the engine and electrical systems ahead of time:

  • If the boat has been in storage for several months, there’s a chance the battery no longer works. Be sure to charge it up or have it replaced if it’s particularly old.
  • Clean the battery terminal and cable ends, replace the wing nuts and make sure it’s secure enough to meet Coast Guard regulations.
  • Once your boat is running, review all lights, pumps, cabin switches and gauges. Replace any burnt out bulbs.
  • If there is any left, drain the fuel from your tank and refill it with new solution. You don’t want contaminated fuel running through your boat’s engine.
  • Check the engine’s oil level, coolant, transmission unit, power steering fluid, spark plugs and filters. Oil should be changed every 50 hours of use.
  • Let the engine run to listen for any abnormal noises. If something doesn’t sound right, you may need to have it serviced by a professional.
  • In the winterization process, you may have added antifreeze to your pipes to prevent cracking. In this case, it’s now time to flush it out.

Along with these factors, make sure you have enough insurance to get your boat to the dock and take it out on the water. To review and update your policy for the new season, give us a call at 203.439.2815.