Boat Owners Spring Time Checklist

For boaters, the first annual spring fishing tip is highly anticipated, and they can’t wait to get out on the water and haul in that very first catch of the new season. However, before putting the boat into the water, there are a number of checks that should be performed on the vessel to ensure that it is safe to navigate the lake or river that is being targeted.

1). It is necessary to begin with evaluation of the electrical system. This means first inspecting the battery terminals for any corrosion. They must be cleaned off to ensure proper contact between battery posts and cables. A light coating of grease should be applied to prevent this problem in the future. The water levels of the cells inside should also be checked using a flashlight to see if any water needed to be added. If necessary slowly add distilled water until the proper level is reached. The final step is to charge the battery using a slow trickle charger that will top it off to the proper level. Finally carry spare fuses with the electrical equipment in case they are ever needed on the water.

2). Check to make sure that all of the correct equipment is on board and readily available. This includes such things as registration papers and guide maps which can be safely secured in a water tight plastic bag. Make sure that there are a sufficient number of Pfds available, with at least one throw pfd among this number. Check the fire extinguishers to make sure that they are fully charged and have been inspected recently. Make sure to check the running lights on the boat — both fore and aft. This will ensure that during any times of bad weather, the craft will remain visible to other boaters to maintain a safety margin on the water. The bilge pump should also be pulled out and inspected carefully to ensure proper operation. This will be indicated by a humming sound, and not a very high pitched noise which indicates a problem with the mechanism

The boat trailer is a common item that is often overlooked in the inspection process. The first thing to do is to check the wheel bearings on each wheel and make the necessary adjustments if needed. Each wheel will need to be lifted off the ground to take the weight off of it in order to check for proper alignment. The new or old set needs to be greased thoroughly. The only precaution to this process is when Buddy bearings are present in the wheel assembly, as too much grease can damage the rear seal of the unit. The next area to be looked at is the winch system that is used to pull the boat up on to the trailer. All of the ropes and straps should be evaluated for frayed ends or damage which would make them unsafe. The tie downs on the trailer also need to be in good shape in order to provide the most efficient function.

The fuel system and outboard motor (if present) need to be looked at also. Any places that show a soft spot are brittle or cracked need to be replaced immediately. If they are not in good shape, an outboard motor can actually be ruined by a lack of fuel supply. The fuel line and all of its connectors can be checked for leaks by squeezing the primer bulb very hard. Replace any spots which are faulty. The motor’s hood should also be lifted for more detailed inspection of the interior components. In the lower half of the outboard motor it is important to make sure that any parts requiring grease receive a fresh application, removing any of the old stuff first. Any excess water that is standing in the bottom of the motor should be immediately removed and the motor taken to a certified marine mechanic for the proper repair. Every motor should be tested prior to taking out the boat on the waterway. This can be done while still on the trailer, going through the gears in turn once the motor is thoroughly warmed up. This can prevent a potential problem while on the water, and make the necessity of rowing back to shore greatly reduced.