Flowers are blooming, temperatures are rising, and you’re starting to imagine yourself out on the water with the wind in your hair and a light spray of water across your face. The only thing between you and your dreams is commissioning your boat for spring!
Here are some important areas to check to get your boat ready for the season:
This is a great place to start, as it will take the most time and create the biggest mess. If you didn’t change the oil before winterizing your boat, do so now. This will eliminate water and acid buildup, as well as preventing corrosion, poor fuel economy, and engine failure. While you’re changing the oil, replace the oil filter as well. Flush the cooling system and replace antifreeze with a 50/50 ratio of water to coolant. Replace seawater pump impellers on main engines and generators. Check all fluids and even lights. Install fresh spark plugs. Reconnect fuel lines and tighten or replace hose clamps if needed. Replace the batteries and perform an engine test.
Canvas and Vinyl
Check all vinyl and canvas items, including bimini top, seats, and covers for tears, dirt, and mildew. Repair any tears or holes and clean with an appropriate cleaner.
Inspect the hull for blisters or cracks, as well as chalky residue. Repair any blisters or cracks. The gelcoat on the exterior repels water and keeps the outer surface looking smooth. If you discover a chalky residue, it likely means oxidation is present. If only light oxidation is discovered (the finish will look mostly shiny with a few dull patches), then an oxidation removal compound may be applied and will restore the shine. For more severe oxidation, buffing and/or sanding will be required and professional intervention may be necessary. Once the gelcoat is restored, keep it cleaned and polished throughout the boating season using proper cleaning agents and polishes. Clean the rest of the exterior using a marine-safe cleaner. Apply a fresh coat of wax to the hull.
The metal and wood components, known as brightwork, bring beauty and personality to your boat. These parts need to be cared for to prevent pitting and degradation. To care for the metal, use a specialized metal polisher. For Teak or Meranti, it’s best to lightly sand and then apply stain and varnish. Four coats of varnish are the minimum for UV protection, but eight to twelve coats offer superior protection and less maintenance over time.
Electronics & Interior
Test all electronics, including radio, GPS, depth finder, compass, and any other marine electronics. This way you won’t be caught off guard on the water if you discover an electronic component isn’t working properly. Clean the interior thoroughly to remove dirt and debris. Dirt and debris invite moisture and moisture brings rot.
An often-neglected part of boating, you will increase the life of your boat trailer with a little care taken every year. Prevent rust by keeping it painted, repairing dings and nicks, and rinsing off salt water with fresh water. Check the winch straps and chains for wear, and lubricate winch if necessary. Check the bearings, light bulbs, tire pressure, and the license plate. Getting a ticket for an expired license plate is not the way to start off boating season!
It can be easy to overlook this important component, but it’s essential to have all signaling devices, hand pumps, life preservers, first aid supplies, and fire extinguishers in good, working condition. Check expiration dates on anything with time-sensitive components.
Taking the time to adequately prepare for boating season will pay off in the long run with fewer repairs and hassles, ultimately giving you more time to enjoy your boat.