Prepare Your Boat for Summer!
There are many items to check and recheck before launching a boat for the first
summertime trip. If you want professional help, find a good boat mechanic and take your
boat in for a full inspection and tune up. The Coast Guard Auxiliary conducts free vessel
safety checks throughout the year, and they will check all your safety equipment to make
sure you are ready for the water. If you do decide to "do it yourself" look below at the
list of ten items to keep in mind before setting your boat on the water:
- Check Life Jackets: Life Jackets are the most important piece of safety equipment on
your boat. Ensure that they are still serviceable, with no rips, tears or other defects. Also
make sure the kids’ jackets still fit.
- Check Fire Extinguisher: Fire extinguishers have a habit of discharging over the
winter. Make sure you still have a fire extinguisher in your boat and that it is still
- Registration Check: All boat registrations expire on December 31 of each year.
Make sure you get a current decal on your boat before heading out.
- Charge Batteries: This is an important on often-overlooked mechanical issue. No
power, no boating. Charge batteries and make sure they hold that charge.
- Electronics and Lights: Electronics can fail over the winter even without use. You
should also make sure you navigation lights still work and examine exposed wiring for
cracks and wear. Make sure that bilge pump still works.
- Test Engine and Components: Go ahead and fire up the boat before you leave the
driveway. Don’t forget your "outboard ears"—a device that cools the engine out of the
water. Starting the boat before you leave can save you real agony, time and hassle at the
- The Hull: Just walk around the hull to make sure it’s not cracked or damaged. A lot
can happen in a year. Also make sure you have the plug for your boat and it is in good
- Tune up the Trailer: The trailer wheel bearings need to be greased before you leave
the driveway. If you have a winch and other equipment, make sure it works.
- Ski and Tow Check: Tubes, skis and other equipment must also be maintained.
Rubber seals and inflatable devices can crack and leak. Make sure they are all ready to
go, and don’t forget to bring your orange ski flag if you are going to tow someone.
- Gas up and Go: It’s always a good idea to replace the gas from last year. Make
sure your fuel lines are connected properly and have no cracks or damage.