Your Spring Boat Checklist
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Your Spring Boat Checklist

Prepare your boat for the warmer season with this checklist to ensure you and your family are safe out on the water.

Written by Scott Peters
Photo by Scott Peters
 
There’s an old saying in boating that the two best days of owning a boat are the day you buy it and the day you get rid of it. I’m not one to agree with this, necessarily, as I spend all the time I can on the water. There are, however, a few simple spring check-ups you can do to ensure you’ll enjoy your time on the water without worries.

1. The Boat Battery

A battery check is simple insurance against needing to find a likely candidate to tow your vessel back to the dock. There a several types of battery testers available but be sure to use one for your 12-volt systems. Testing each battery you have on board is imperative, especially if they are over 3 years old. At this point, batteries can start to wear and not hold their charge as they did when new. You will see this in your deep cell trolling motor batteries so be sure to check them and if they need replaced, this investment can keep you worry free for a few more years.

2. The Fuel System

Just as important as batteries, your fuel system should be given a quick check to ensure there are no cracked and leaking fuel lines. Not only will this affect your fuel system performance but can be extremely dangerous to onboard fires. Make sure you visually inspect the lines and fittings from the tank connection to the engine connection.

3. The Safety Equipment

Following these two quick inspections, I go over my onboard safety equipment. Both your fire extinguisher and signal flares have expiration dates. If they are overdue they need to be replaced. Fire extinguishers have a longer lifespan than either hand- or gun-launched flares but often go uninspected under the assumption they are good for life. Not only is neglecting your extinguisher potentially dangerous, but also it can lead to a stiff fine if you’re inspected by the U.S. Coast Guard. 
 

4. The Onboard Systems

A quick systems check including navigation and anchor lights comes next. These often get corrosion built up on the pins during storage and may need a quick cleaning. Applying a LIGHT coat of petroleum jelly will protect these from corrosion without shorting out your lighting system.

5. Little Critters

During winter storage little critters may take up residence in your vessel. A quick visual inspection of your anchor and docking lines prior to your first launch of the spring can save you from an unwanted surprise at the dock or a lost anchor if something has chewed on your stowed lines.

6. The Boat Trailer

My last inspection is on my trailer with a quick walk around to visually inspect the structural integrity of trailer structure, the bunks or rollers for wear and, of course, your tires. The last thing you need is a blowout on your way to your cabin or lake. The light system on your trailer also needs checked with connection to your tow vehicle to ensure all lights are operating for your safety.

If you follow these few quick steps, you’ve gone a long way to enjoying your first outing of the spring and avoiding the frustrations of failed systems. I have followed this process every spring and have had many more than two favorite days of boat ownership. Happy Boating!

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