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Getting Your Boat Ready For Summer

There are lots of things to do to get ready for another summer at the lake. It is well worth spending a couple of hours checking your boat’s important systems and equipment to save major headaches later.

Every boat owner is eager for their boat to be ready and running for the beginning of the summer season.  However, winter weather can cause problems that can lead to system failures, especially in older or poorly maintained boats or engines. Every boat should be checked thoroughly for any deterioration, corrosion, or damage that may have developed during the long cold winter of disuse before being put in the water. This can help prevent problems from ruining your first outings of the summer. Even newer boats can suffer these failures! Though not a complete list, the following items should be checked before taking the boat onto the water:

  • Battery, starter, alternator and bilge pump
  • Fuel, oils & other fluids which may have deteriorated or become contaminated
  • Canvas which may suffer from deterioration
  • Seals, impeller, hoses, hose clamps, and gaskets should be checked for deterioration which can cause oil or water leaks
  • Corrosion which can cause steering and other system failures
  • The propeller should be checked for any damage such as dings, pitting or distortion

Some marinas offer a spring or summer commissioning service to verify that your boats systems and the hull are intact prior to launching the boat. If you feel comfortable doing it yourself, it should only take an hour or so.

Aside from examining the boat, boat owners should also make sure they have a fully stocked Marine First Aid kit, and a working fire extinguisher (check the expiration date) on board. Make sure your boat registration is up to date, as well as trailer tags if you have one. Review your boat insurance policy and update the coverage if needed, including fuel spill insurance coverage. Make sure you have a properly sized and wearable personal floatation device (life jacket) in good condition for each passenger, especially kids and pets.

Trailers should be checked before use as well. Check the air pressure and inspect the tire treads and sidewalls for cracks or lack of tread. Don't forget to check the spare! Inspect the bearings and repack if necessary. Test the tail and back-up lights. Test the winch to make sure it's working properly. Inspect the trailer frame for rust. If you find any, sand it out and paint to prevent further deterioration.


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