Getting your boat ready for summer
“Summerizing” a boat includes the following steps and the boat should be in tip-top shape the first time you put it back in the water.
· Wash and clean your boat.
· Polish and wax the gelcoat. This is a good time to inspect the hull for cracks or dings.
· Have all batteries tested and charged.
· Test all lights (navigation and onboard), pumps, the horn and the sound system.
· Turn on electronics and make sure you have updated software.
· Schedule a vessel inspection and springtime service with your dealer. This should include the boat and its systems, the engine(s), and the trailer if there is one. Most dealers will check and test all pumps including bilge, freshwater and livewell. They will also check and/or replace filters and fluids such as engine oil and hydraulic fluid. Service should also include tilt and trim systems (lubricating as needed), a propeller inspection and spark plug and anode replacement.
· Ask your dealer if they will also inspect electrical connections and wiring harnesses for corrosion or damage.
· Lubricate and exercise seacocks yourself or ask a dealer for assistance.
· The trailer should be checked thoroughly including the wheels, tires, axles, brakes, brake lights, safety chains and the winch/strap.
· Flush and disinfect the freshwater system (if applicable).
· You can inspect onboard safety gear like the condition of lifejackets, throwables, the first aid kit, fire extinguishers, flare expiration dates and the VHF radio yourself.
· Make sure you have a basic tool kit as well as spares like fuel and oil filters, and extra oil and coolant. Also make sure you have hydraulic steering fluid (if applicable).
· Make a trip to the chandlery if equipment is damaged or missing. Examples may include torn lifejackets, missing spares, a broken VHF radio, or cleaning products.
· Get a free vessel safety check from the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary or U.S. Power Squadrons. Find out more at cgaux.org/vsc.
Preparing yourself for peak boating season
Beyond the condition of the boat, there are things you can do to prepare for the season.
· Take a safety course to refresh your skills.
· Review the rules of the road for basic on-water collision avoidance guidelines.
· Update your boat (and trailer) registration and insurance.
· Update your boat and trailer towing assistance memberships.
· Update any weather apps you may not have used in a while and will need to use for forecasts.
Making your own checklists will also help to ease your way back onto the water. These can include everything from pre-departure and post-return steps for yourself to steps for how to use the radio for guests. Creating these lists will put your head back into the boating game. The MyWhaler app has some for you to get started.
Preparing for the boating season takes time so start early to make appointments, schedule service, find safety courses and take care of payments. It will all be worth it once you’re back out and having fun!