Nobody wants to be "that boater" – the one whose motor won't start, delaying everyone else waiting their turn at the launch. And, fortunately, you never have to be!
These spring maintenance tips can help you live the on-the-water lifestyle you love, starting with a no-stress first trip of the 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.
- Carry a fire extinguisher.
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.
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