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Spring Boating Preparations

For many of us, Spring marks the beginning of the boating season. It is time to remove boat covers, do a little Spring cleaning, and enjoy the pay-off of that winterization you performed last season – you did winterize your boat, right?


In general you’ll want to give the boat a good cleaning. Pick a dry day and open up the doors, hatches, and windows to get some air flow and clear out moisture. If you took out your cushions and bedding for the Winter, making sure the boat is nice and dry before bringing them back in is a good idea. You should also swab those decks! Having kept your boat covered will save you a lot of work at this stage, but even with a cover there may be areas needing attention. Clean decks not only look better but are safer, ensuring good footing. If you have a sailboat, unfurl that sail and make sure it’s nice and dry; do not neglect to clean the boot or other canvas covers used on your boat as they may have collected mold and mildew during the wet season. Consult the manufacturer for approved cleaning agents.

The Once-Over

This may be the first time in weeks that you’ve had a chance to get a good look at your baby. Give it a good once-over, looking for hull damage, zincs that need replacing, antifouling that needs to be redone, blistering in the finish or tarnished brightwork, damage to rub rails or fenders, line fray or life line slack, damage to ladders and platforms, trim tab malfunctions, irregularities in the drive assembly, rudder problems, and through-hull blockage. Make a list of what you find, prioritize it, and work your way through the list as time allows. Don’t try to take on too much at once; boating is supposed to be fun not frustrating and exhausting. Bring a friend to help in exchange for summer cruising!

The Inside Job

Before you can take the boat out you’ll need to check the engine and electrical systems. If you winterized, the main thing you’ll need to do is put the batteries back in and hook them up; if you didn’t take them out of the boat then you’ll need to check the water levels, test and recharge / replace them if needed. You can then run through all of your electrical components and test that they are working. Remember to check all of the lights, replacing as necessary and ensure you have extra fuses on board. When you are in the engine room, have a good look at the hoses and bilge. Be sure hoses are undamaged and clamps have not loosened (double-clamping hoses below the waterline is a good practice). Check for oil in the bilge before turning on the pumps for the first time.

Safety Check

You must make sure that you have all of the required safety gear on the boat before heading out. Your flares may have expired and need replacing. Your fire extinguishers may need to be checked. Make sure you have suitable PFDs on board. Nav systems are great, but back-up charts are indispensable; have them at hand. Also important are bailers, hand pumps, radar reflectors, first aid supplies, working compasses, whistles, etc. Consult your area’s boating safety guide for all required and recommended equipment if you are unsure. Many Marinas and clubs offer (or even require) safety inspections as well; take advantage and sign up! Finally, ensure your documentation is current and on board.

Have Fun

The whole point of all this is to get out there and enjoy the water, right? So go ahead, you’ve done the hard work; now enjoy the reward. Remember, if you need anything for your boat this Spring from stern anchors to bow rollers, is only a click away.
Happy Boating