The temperature is warming and its that time again and I’m sure everyone is as anxious to get back out on the water as I am. Its tempting to pull off the cover and just go, but there are 5 things you should take care of first to avoid the maiden voyage from Hades, well you get my point.
Step one on the list is the battery. I can’t stress this enough. If you make it away from the dock and your battery isn’t 100% you’re asking to be towed back. Check the water in each cell unless it is a sealed battery and add if needed. Charge fully and keep the first trip short in case you do need assistance.
Second step is changing the oil. If you didn’t do this last fall, now is the time. You can take care of this while the battery is charging. If you have never done this it may be a little different than changing it in the family car. Most of the time you need a small pump with a tube that is fed down the dipstick tube and the oil is pumped out. Make sure to warm the engine slightly to thin the oil and suspend any contaminates (but not to hot) before removing with the pump. Place rags under the oil filter and a garbage bag around it to catch any oil that might spill when you remove it. Make sure to put a film of oil on the filter gasket and tighten ¼ turn past hand tight. Add oil, run the motor for one minute then check oil to make sure it is at the proper level.
Third step on the list is check the fuel filter. Most boats have at least one and most have two. My boat has four and take it from me this isn’t something you want to ignore. After sitting all winter the fuel may be contaminated with water, dirt, sludge, and I’ve pumped stuff out of my tanks that resembled jelly. Better not do this while the battery is charging. Spilled gas and electricity don’t mix.
Number four is to make sure all your safety equipment is on board and in working order. Life jackets, horn, flare gun and all other items required by law need to be in good shape and easily accessible.
The fifth and final step on my list is a good cleaning. Wash, wax and vacuum. It always seems like your boat runs better when it sparkles and nothing makes you feel better than gliding across the water in something so beautiful every one wishes they were you.
Bradford Herrington is a fellow boat owner and a part time editor for www.awesomeboatdeals.com which specializes in used boats for sale.