That sound you hear is ice cracking,
snow melting and the Northern Hemisphere
warming up for spring. Can boating
season be far behind? If you hauled out
last fall, here are some tips to make
sure you can re-float your boat when you
pull it out of storage.
Did you properly winterize your boat
before you stored it? Great! However,
there are still a few things you'll need
to take care of to reverse the process.
If you just towed your boat to the mini
storage facility without prepping it
first, you're in for some serious
Overwhelmed? Break it into smaller
tasks to make the process easier.
The experts at Wholesale Marine
recommend you start with a thorough
cleaning. Even if you cleaned your boat
before you stored it, it's been sitting
in a self storage facility all winter.
There's bound to be some dust and dirt,
especially if you stored your boat in
the facility's yard. So wipe down the
interior, run the vacuum and power-wash
the bottom. Repair any dings, dents,
scratches and gouges. Apply a good coat
of wax to protect the surface from UV
damage. If you use bottom paint, this is
a good time to apply a fresh coat to
keep slime and barnacles from damaging
Wood boats demand extra TLC.
Basic Boat Care and Maintenance,
published by TakeMeFishing.org, says to
check carefully for possible damage and
rot. Pay special attention along the
waterline, in the transom and under
decks that might have retained moisture.
Checklist includes these basic
- Clean and polish all bright work
- Replace hull zincs
- Clean and grease winches,
lubricate the anchor windlass
- Clean canvas, bimini and dodger
- Check rudder, fittings,
stanchion, pulpits and lifelines for
- Inspect and test trim tabs
- Go below deck and check hoses
Engine and Electrical Components
Justin Hoffman, writing for Bass Pro,
offers these tips to de-winterize your
- Install fresh spark plugs
- If you didn't change lower gear
case oil last fall, do it now
- Check all other fluid levels
- Lubricate all moving connection
- Reconnect fuel lines (and
tighten or replace hose clamps if
If you disconnected any electronics,
now is the time to reconnect them and
test each item before you launch. Don't
forget to take a look at your oil, fuel
and air filters, and replace them if
Don't forget to check safety
equipment including signaling devices,
fire extinguishers, hand pumps, first
aid supplies and life preservers.
The Spring Start-Up Checklist at
DiscoverBoating.com offers this advice
for pre-season boat preparation:
- Inspect your fuel system for
leaks. Soft, brittle or cracking
indicates damaged hoses that need to
- Charge your battery and test it
to make sure it can still hold a
- Inspect your propeller for
damage that can cause unwanted
vibration and harm your drive train.
Make sure the propeller is secured
and replace the bearings if needed.
- Check belts and cables for wear.
Black residue near the pulley could
indicate a worn or loose belt.
Cracking and swelling on control
cable covering requires immediate
Be sure that you test your engine
before you launch. Do this in an
open, well-ventilated area (definitely
NOT inside your mini storage unit).
Don't overlook this important part of
boating. Foremost Insurance recommends
that you make sure essential safety
equipment is in good working condition
and that time-sensitive components
haven't expired. This can include first
aid kits, flares, fire extinguishers and
You don't want to sink your boating
season before you even reach the water,
so before you take your boat out of self
storage and on the road, give your
trailer a thorough inspection. Wholesale
Marine 's seven-point checklist will
make short work of this essential task.
- Make sure the rollers or bunks
on your trailer are in good working
- Hook up and test your trailer's
turn signals and brake lights.
- Check the winch straps and
chains for wear. You don't want to
lose your boat in tow.
- Check your winch and lubricate
it if the movement is stiff or
- Make sure the latch on your
coupler is working properly.
- Repack your bearings with
- Finally, be sure your
registration is current. Getting a
citation on the way to opening day
is a big buzz kill.
Okay, you're good to go, matey. Enjoy
the water and have a great, safe boating