Boat Checklist - Coming Out Of Winter
The days are getting longer and the ice is rapidly melting away. If you’re anything like me, that thought brings a smile to your face. I’m a fan of all four seasons and the uniqueness that each season brings, but nothing gets me thinking about boating more than a long winter. Your boat has likely been sitting in a storage unit or a garage since last fall and before you hit the water this spring it’s important to follow a boat checklist focusing on key elements to keeping you safe and having fun on the water.
Your boat trailer is usually a very overlooked necessity of your boat. Even though it’s not directly attached to the boat it’s certainly the biggest part of making sure your boat makes it to its destination in one piece. Take a couple of minutes and check over these few items and have peace of mind that your trailer is safe and towing properly.
1. Check the tire pressure. As your trailer sits in storage all winter long, the cold air tends to cause your tires to lose some air pressure. Follow the recommend PSI listed on the tires and ensure all your tires are filled evenly.
2. Check the bearings. Bearings is a word none of us want to hear when it comes to trailers but its inevitable for the most part. Trailers operate on bearings and many of the newer trailers have much-improved systems that require very little attention but for those of you that have traditional bearing systems, it’s paramount that you check them for leaks, loose packing and make sure you grease them up good. This should be checked throughout the season and especially before any long road trip.
3. Check the lights. Before you hit the road have someone check your lights, blinkers, and brake lights. Ensure your connection to the tow vehicle is tight and clear of dust and debris.
Motor, Prop, Fluids, Battery - Boat Checklist
Now that your trailer is ready to make the trip, let’s make sure the motor is going to perform for you when you get there. Many boaters will winterize their boat in the fall but if you’re like me and keep it in a heated garage you don’t typically need to. Regardless, everyone should check these 3 items prior to hitting the water.
1. Check the oil and lube levels before and during the season. This is a fairly simple process as long as you refer to the operator’s manual and use the proper oil, lube, and seals. The best, and easiest, way is to take your boat to a local dealer and have them do a 100hr service on your boat. This may cost a couple hundred bucks but you can rest assure your motor has been inspected and the work has been done properly.
For the DIY boaters out there, you can find a plethora of videos on YouTube, as well as your motor manufactures website, that will walk you through the process. Plus you’ll save about half the price of a certified dealer, if you can do it yourself.
2. Check the prop. As part of the lube process on the lower unit, you will have to remove your prop and that’s the perfect time to inspect it for damage and make sure the prop shaft is clear of fishing line or anything else that could’ve wrap around it.
3. Check the battery. The number one thing I see at the boat ramp is people struggling to get their boat started and that process usually starts at the battery. You should have your batteries taken out of your boat for the winter. However, if they were left in the boat, they should be on a trickle charge.
Nonetheless, make sure they are fully charged and connections are tight before heading to the water. Check the water level in your lead batteries and if unsure how to do so just take them to a local dealer and they can test them for Also, don’t forget to check your kill switch if your boat won’t fire up. This has left many looking like fools at the boat dock.
Check All Your Boat Safety Equipment
Anytime you’re on the water, SAFETY needs to be your number one priority to ensure a good day doesn’t go bad real fast. Check all your boat safety equipment and make sure it’s still functional and/or hasn’t expired. Flares, fire extinguishers and certain types of personal flotations devices (PFD) have expiration dates on them that may need your attention. Ropes, anchors, and oars should all be looked over to ensure good operational use as well.
Quality Cooler Goes A Long Way On The Boat
Check your cooler for any latch or seal imperfections. As well as any other damage. Having a quality cooler can really enhance your time out on the water. Rotomolded coolers with quality insulation serve well for multiple purposes. All hard sided Grizzly Coolers make a great choice. Browse our hard sided coolers.
After enjoying your day on the water don’t forget to clean any weeds that may be hung up on the boat or trailer, drain all live wells and bait wells, and dry out all intakes before putting it back on a different body of water. This will go a long way in preventing the transportation of Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS).
If you follow this simple boat checklist, you’re sure to have a boat that is ready to hit the water so you can spend more time fishing, or whatever your water sport of choice is, and less time at the dock frustrated with problems. Be safe out there this year and cherish the quality time with family and friends.