Boating season is on the horizon in most parts of the country, and for boaters, it's time to get your vessel out of storage and start performing the necessary inspections and maintenance to ensure that you're ready to hit the water as soon as the weather allows. Follow these tips to get your boat water-ready for summer:
Perform a thorough inspection on all systems and equipment:
- Fuel System: Check fuel lines, filters, clamps and, of course, the fuel tank for damage or wear and tear. Look for leaks, cracks and secure fittings between elements. If anything seems off, don't take the risk: just replace it.
- Belts, Cables and Hoses: Winter weather can cause these items to crack or become brittle. See that all belts fit snugly and that cables don't show any cracks or swelling.
- Propellers and hulls: Inspect propellers for cracks or dings and other damage; be sure it is securely in place and replace bearings if necessary. Thoroughly clean the hull and decks and make sure the drain plug is secure.
- Battery and electrical system: Be sure your battery is charged and check all electrical connections for corrosion before getting out on the water. Because a boat's electrical system is inherently different and presents unique risks, always use an experienced marine electrician and be sure to have your wiring inspected by a professional on a regular basis.
- Fluids: Check fluid levels, power steering fluid, oil and coolant.
- Safety gear and equipment: Check lights, fire extinguishers, carbon monoxide detector and other safety equipment to be sure it's in good working order. Make sure you have an adequate number of life jackets in proper sizes, as well as flotation devices for emergency.
Review boating rules and regulations:
- Check that your registration is current and meets the requirements of your state.
- Although most states do not require that you have a special license to drive a boat; many states do require a safety course or have other regulations, depending on the age of the driver. Make sure you are familiar with your state's licensing requirements before getting on the water or allowing someone else to drive your boat.
- Similarly, laws regarding water skiing, noise, boating under the influence and marine sanitation vary by state. Review your state laws and guidelines to ensure a safe and stress-free boating season.