Friday, July 5, 2013

Spring Boat Maintenance Tips

3 Spring Boat Maintenance Tips

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After a long winter, it can feel like it’ll never be boating season again. But as the temperatures warm up and that first summer weekend of boating approaches, it’s time to review the boat maintenance checklist. You want that first launch of the season to go smoothly and safely. Not to mention, make sure you’re keeping your boat in tip-top shape.

How many items you have on your boat maintenance checklist depends on how you winterize your boat. If you’re a do-it-yourselfer and you handle all the winterizing tasks yourself, including wrapping and storing your own boat, then you’re going to have a pretty long checklist.

If you’re like me, and you don’t have room to store your boat (or boats), then you get a marina to do some of the heavy lifting. You can arrange different types of winterizing and maintenance packages, from the deluxe, where they basically launch your boat for you in the spring, to the basic, where you still do a lot of the maintenance yourself. I like an option somewhere in between.

When I pick up my boat from the marina in the spring, it’s unwrapped and I know that everything should be working fine, but there are still things I always look out for. Here’s my list:

1.      Number One: Safety Equipment
By law, you’re required to carry safety equipment onboard. What types of equipment is required (e.g. sound signaling equipment, personal flotation devices etc.) depends on what kind of watercraft you have and its length. My marina doesn’t check this, so I always go through the list of required safety equipment to make sure it’s all on board and in good condition.

I always perform the following;
a.       Replace the batteries in my flashlight.
b.      Check that the lifejackets haven’t become a home for mice over the winter and that I have as many on board as I remember having.
c.        Check my fire extinguisher to see if it needs maintenance.
d.      Confirm that I have my registration and operator card and proof of insurance.  
2.      Battery, Gas, Engine – Check. Check. Check.
Some marinas disconnect your battery and remove it before winter storage so that it remains in good condition and they can charge it up. So, to make sure I’m not going to be floating around with no power at the boat launch, I do three things before launching:
a.       Make sure the battery is reconnected and still has juice.
b.      Put fresh gas in the tank.
c.       Give the engine a start while on the trailer at the launch once the engine is in the water just to make sure everything is good to go before launching.

3. Drain Plug!
My marina doesn’t replace my drain plug before returning my boat—and many don’t (but some will provide reminders like taping your drain plug to your steering wheel). I’ve seen what happens when boaters forget to replace that plug and sometimes it isn’t pretty. So, replacing and then double-checking the drain plug is the last part of my pre-launch ritual.

And that’s that. Ready to hit the water. It already feels like summer doesn’t it?

Brent McNamee is a lifelong boater, an avid angler, and the founder of, North America’s leading online safe boating educator.

LEGAL DISCLAIMER: Nothing in the aforesaid article should be considered personalized advice. The article may contain errors and the writer’s opinion may change substantially or in part based on actual facts and any number of variables. Any decision you make as a result of the above-noted articles is your sole responsibility.


  1. Hi Brent! Your boat repairing tips are really worth for me, because one of my boats has broken since last month, don’t know the reason. I can check it according to your instructions.

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