Make sure your boat is ready to go when you are!
Always start with your boat and engine service manuals for maintenance specifics. Then, check off these to-dos to ensure a worry less, live more outing, especially when your boat is just coming out of the off-season:
On the boat
□ Inspect the hull and apply a coat of wax if needed. If the boat is moored year-round, recoat the bottom paint if necessary.
□ Tune the engine including changing oil and filters.
□ Lubricate steering and shift linkage.
□ Check the coolant level in freshwater-cooled motors and test for proper mixture.
□ Inspect the ignition, wiring and electronic equipment.
□ Attach a garden hose and trailer-fire your motor, ensuring it will start later at the boat launch.
□ Check the exhaust system for leaks, an absolute must if you have an enclosed cabin. Also, make sure your boat has a carbon monoxide detector.
□ Check navigation lights, even if you don't plan to boat after dark.
□ Flush the potable water system.
□ Secure the drain and petcocks.
□ Carry a Coast Guard-approved life vest for each person who will be onboard. Also include a throwable floatation device.
□ Carry a fire extinguisher and emergency flares. Check the expiration date on flares. They can fizzle after a few seasons in storage.
On the trailer
□ Check your tie-down straps and winch rope for rot or fraying.
□ Lubricate the winch.
□ Lubricate the wheel bearings.
□ Check safety chains and the tongue lock for rust and corrosion.
□ Check tire pressure and make sure your trailer has a spare tire.
□ Test brake lights and running lights.
□ Make sure tabs are current on your trailer's license plate.
□ Test the emergency brake on your tow vehicle to ensure it will hold at the boat ramp.
Before you go
□ Be fuel smart. Check your owner's manual for manufacturer specifications on the best fuel to use for your boat. Ethanol-gasoline blends can damage some engines.
□ Check the water weather. Here are a couple of sites worth flagging on your smartphone for Washington waters and Oregon coastal waters, north and south.
□ Share your float plan. Let friends or family know where you'll be and when you plan to return. If something goes wrong and you don't check in as expected, they can send help.