Every boat owner is excited for the spring launch. Visual inspections and on-time scheduled boat maintenance ensure a trouble-free season opener. Follow this boat-prep spring boat checklist and know that you’re prepared and ready to throw some spray on that first smooth cruise out on the water.
Preparing for the spring launch actually begins in the fall with annual fall boat maintenance and proper boat winterization. A wise boat maintenance plan addresses issues in the fall and wintertime when improvements to your boat are still top of mind, and the boat shops have time to give your vessel their full attention.
Remember, it’s not just the engine and mechanical systems of your boat that may need attention, it’s also potential gel coat and fiberglass repair, any repairs to your boat upholstery or interior, repairs to your boat canvas and canopy, upgrades to your boat electronics, lighting, or stereo, and of course boat detailing.
Fall Boat Maintenance and Winterization
Get boat mechanical repairs and maintenance items taken care of prior to putting your boat into winter storage. It is always best practice to store your boat with fresh clean oil and a new filter, a serviced lower unit or drive, and full fluids.
It’s also the time to inspect steering and throttle cables for any deformities or deterioration, as well as inspection of hydraulics for trim, steering, or trim tabs. Lakeside Marine offers a Fall Boat Maintenance Special that keeps your boat performing at its best.
Fall Boat Services to consider:
- oil change
- lower unit/ drive service
- power trim maintenance
- trim tab maintenance
- steering maintenance
- throttle/ shift maintenance
- top-off engine fluids
- top-off hydraulic fluids
- air filter maintenance
- fuel filter replacement
- belt inspection/ replacement
- ignition tune up
- new spark plugs and wires
- check battery strength and charging
- inspect wiring
- propeller inspection
- bottom painting
Boat Winterization is simple after proper Fall Boat Maintenance has been performed. It’s just a matter of treating the fuel system with a fuel stabilizer to minimize fuel contamination and running the engine for long enough to draw the treated fuel throughout the entire fuel delivery system.
The second component of Boat Winterization is to drain the “seawater” from the cooling system and pump in a glycol-based antifreeze to purge any remaining water. This protects your boat engine from freeze damage.
Lastly, when storing your boat, disconnect your battery so the electronics don’t slowly drain the battery to zero. A fully discharged battery can freeze and get ruined.
Ideally, remove your boat battery and take it inside to a heated space for the winter. Put a battery charger on it once mid-winter, and again just before spring launch. If you add this as part of your spring boat checklist, your battery will last many seasons.
Boat Winterization Essentials:
- Treat the entire fuel system with a fuel stabilizer.
- Drain water from the cooling system and purge with glycol antifreeze.
- Disconnect and store the battery. Charge mid-winter and spring.
Wintertime Boat Upgrades
Winter is a great time to make boat repairs and do upgrades. The boat shop can give your craft full attention, and shop space is available for complex or multi-faceted repairs.
This is a great time to address any issues on the body of your boat, repairs to the interior upholstery, and also maintenance of the canvas and canopy to keep it in top condition.
Inspect the gel coat of your boat at the end of the boating season for any dings or scrapes in the gel coat layer. The gel coat is the smooth shiny surface of the fiberglass body that lies atop the structural fiberglass.
Make gel coat repairs early, before there is damage and degradation to the internal structural fiberglass. You want to both protect your investment, and at the same time keep it looking like new.
Also, assess the bottom of your boat. Is it scratched, gouged, or scuffed? Bottom painting is essential to maintaining a strong hull and prevent organisms from attaching to your boat’s bottom and weakening the fiberglass.
What is the condition of your boat’s upholstery? The driver’s seat is usually the first to show wear and tear, but accidents can happen that create an unsightly tear elsewhere in the upholstery.
Lakeside Marine provides boat upholstery repairs, and also performs full new upholstery overhauls that make your boat look and feel like new. Consider replacing carpet or flooring. When all of the seats and accessories are expertly re-installed and looking like new, you’ll experience satisfaction as a boat owner who cares.
Inspect whether you need to repair your boat canvas and canopy. Oftentimes, stress points at the seams start to give way as the sun and rain take their toll. Lakeside Marine inspects all of the hardware and brackets for your canopy, to make sure it has integrity.
Winter is a great time for new boat electronics installation like fish finders, navigation systems, emergency radios, and of course a state-of-the-art boat stereo system that connects wirelessly to devices and rocks out with the thundering base and clarity of a home system.
Custom underwater lighting is also very popular and sets a fun and relaxing mood for evenings out under the stars.
Wintertime Boat Upgrades:
- Gel coat and Fiberglass Repairs
- Bottom Painting
- Boat Upholstery Repairs / Overhaul
- Boat Carpet or Flooring Installation
- Boat Canvas and Canopy Repair/ Replacement
- Boat Electronics Installation: Fish Finder, Nav. System, Marine Radio.
- Boat Stereo Upgrade
- Custom Underwater Lighting
Springtime Visual Inspection
Before the spring launch, a final visual inspection is all that is required. Include this in your spring boat checklist. Inspect all fuel lines and rubber hoses for cracking that may have occurred over the winter.
Inspect the battery cables and connections for integrity and no corrosion. If you find any corrosion on the battery cables, clean with baking soda and water mixed together, and brush on with a toothbrush or small wire brush. Rinse with clean water. Sandpaper may also be useful to clean terminals and connections.
Reinstall your fully charged marine battery. Be sure it is secure and covered.
Check that the drain plug is in and secure.
Spring is also the best time to give your boat a wash and wax.
Spring Boat Visual Inspections Checklist:
- Inspect fuel lines and coolant hoses for cracking.
- Inspect belts for cracks and check proper tension.
- Inspect for leaks of fuel, oil, or fluids.
- Inspect battery cables, connections, and wiring harnesses for integrity and no corrosion.
- Re-install fully charged battery.
- Check the drain plug is secure.
- Check the bilge pump is operational.
- Are you in need of boat detailing?
Safety Gear On Board:
- Life Jackets
- Fire Extinguisher
- First Aid Kit
- Basic Tool Kit
- Bow and Stern Lines
- Anchor and Rope
Hopefully this article jogged your memory on some aspect of your boat that you wanted to give a little extra attention to this year. Oftentimes, a forgotten maintenance item turns into a bigger headache later on if left unattended. This spring boat checklist and guide will help you to remember every aspect of your boat’s operation. so that you can head out on the water with the peace of mind that you approach boat maintenance like a pro.