If you want to be safe while you are boating, you will have to put a lot of work into preparation.
Of course, knowing what to do when you are out of the waves is crucial, but nine out of ten sticky situations on the water can be avoided if you simply put the right amount of care into boat maintenance.
With spring coming around, there are going to be plenty of sailors heading out onto the water, but many of them are going to forget to go over their vessel before doing so. If you want to enjoy your hobby safely, you will take a day to take a look at your boat and make sure that all is well before taking her out.
In this guide, we’ll be providing some crucial tips and reminders of what to look for when you are going over your boat in anticipation of the spring boating season. Without any further delay, let’s jump right into our first tip.
The first thing you’ll want to do when you take your boat out of storage is making sure that it’s clean, and that is likely not the case if it has been sitting away all winter. Depending on the composition of your boat, you will have your own way to clean it, whether it consists of brushes, rags, or anything else.
A clean boat is not only more pleasant to work on, but you can avoid anything compromising the integrity of your vessel by ensuring that you keep it clean. Of course, there is also the matter of a cleaner boat going faster due to a more hydrodynamic shape, though that will likely be negligible.
You will also want to learn how to de-winterize a boat to ensure that your spring boating goes as smoothly as possible. Everyone has different ways to winterize their vessel, so the undoing will depend on what you did to prepare your boat for the winter. As such, this process can range from simple to complex.
If you are de-winterizing a boat that has been sitting around all winter, then all you have to do is follow all of the rudimentary checks that we will be covering in this guide. If you actually took your boat out over the winter season, there are probably some treatments and accessories that will have to be removed.
One of the most important things that you can do before you take your boat on the water this spring is to go over the hull for any potential issues. Even scrapes and scratches will need to be checked out as they may eventually rust, which can compromise your hull in the long term.
In addition to the hull itself, you will also want to check out the rudder and its fittings, the prop and its shaft, and all of the other mechanical bits that are visible from the exterior. You may also want to note any paint blisters or other minor maintenance issues that can either be handled immediately or at another time.
The end of the winter season is also an excellent time to ensure that all of the safety gear on your ship is intact. Take a look at your life jackets and take them to a swimming pool where you can do a flotation test to ensure that they are not having any issues, and do the same with any lifesavers.
Other than flotation devices, you will also want to go over your emergency rations and your reserve of flares if you are planning on going out into deeper water. While you may not ever need your safety equipment, you will be happy to have gone over it if you ever do end up requiring it.
If you have a larger boat, you will also need to go over some of the heavier equipment like your anchor and the bilge pumps. Make sure that your anchor’s windlass is not having any trouble moving and go over the chain to ensure that there are no signs of rust or other problems.
Your boat’s pumps can also be rather finicky when you compare them to some of the other components so it would make sense to take a look at them as well. Most of the time, the pumps will be located in the bilge to ensure that there isn’t too much water pooling in the hull of your boat.
If you have systems that are run by a battery on your boat, you will also want to make sure that everything is going smoothly in that domain. First off, you will want to check your deep-cycle battery to ensure that it has a sufficient charge, as you won't be able to run anything otherwise.
Once you are sure that all is well with the battery, you can move on to the wiring, as you will have to make sure that every connection is as secure as possible. Finally, the last thing you will need to go over will be the electronics themselves, as they may also be prone to malfunction or other issues.
If your boat has a motor, you will also want to make sure that you give it a once-over, as you don’t want to be stranded in the middle of a lake due to an unreliable propulsion system. As a boat owner, it is likely that you are rudimentarily acquainted with motors, so this shouldn’t be too much of an issue.
Ensure that oil levels are fine, inspect for any damage, and make sure that all is well to ensure that your motor will keep working well.
We appreciate you taking the time to go over our guide to preparing your boat for the spring season. Have a safe and happy year out on the water!