Springtime Preparations for a Problem-Free Boating Season

Spring is finally here, and with it comes increased activity at the docks. Boats come out of storage and boat slips fill seemingly overnight. Unfortunately, some people go from hapsad, or even mad, when problems crop up following their boat’s return to the water.  Detailed inspection and spring maintenance of your boat can reduce your chance of problems—from small leaks to full sinking.

A practical, often-overlooked approach is familiarity with your manufacturer’s handbook. This one resource can probably answer most of your questions and save you a lot of time. If the handbook has been lost or misplaced, or you never received one from the previous owner, a call to the manufacturer or an online search can probably locate a copy of this vital information.

In general, mechanical maintenance should be your first focus. The engine and other mechanical systems are essential for the safe operation of your boat. Don’t forget to check the cabin systems and boat trailer, too, if applicable. After assuring all is in working order, proceed to preventive maintenance. Often considered a messy and unpleasant task, it is vital to keeping your boat in top performance condition. Bottom painting will reduce the amount of growth your boat bottom sees during the course of the season, resulting in better vessel control, higher speeds, and reduced fuel usage.

Next, clean and prepare all surfaces, including vinyl, canvas, fiberglass, and plastic. Scrub the topside and hull, filling in any cracks, nicks, or holes before restoring the gelcoat. Finally, check the serviceability of all on-board safety gear, such as life jackets, flares, EPIRBs, fire extinguishers, and all communication equipment. Replace batteries for these devices, replace out-dated items, and repair minor flaws. These items can mean the difference between life and death when you are on the water.

Remember, boats at dock are four times more likely to sink than boats in motion on the water. Thoroughly inspect your vessel and perform the necessary spring maintenance to help avoid finding your boat at the bottom of the water. With a safe, sea-worthy vessel, you and your passengers will likely enjoy a problem-free boating season.

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