Its that time of the year where everyone in the Northeast is getting anxious to put their boats back in the water. With that said what should you be doing this way your season gets underway without a hitch? Below you will find a brief list of the top five things you should do before putting your boat back in the water.
1. Is all your gear up-to-date and not expired?
Now is a great time to go through all of your gear and make sure nothing is expired before you hit the seas and the coast guard decides to hop on board and take a look around. Are your flares expired or is the expiration date not for some time.
Do you have a life raft on the boat? If you're commercial or an inspected vessel your SOLAS raft must be inspected every year. Have you done this? If you have a raft on your boat and are just a recreational vessel most manufacturers require every three years and I wouldn't go any longer than that.
How about your fire extinguishers are they all current and if you shake them do they feel good still?
Safety gear is something you don't want to mess around with and letting it go by the wayside, the last thing you want to do is need it in an emergency and it doesn't work.
2. Check your batteries
When was the last time you replaced your batteries? Was it last season or can you not even remember? Chances are if its the latter your best bet would be to splurge and buy some new batteries. Lets face it, we've all been there where we've gotten stuck out at sea because our batteries are beyond dead because they are just that old - I know I've done that boneheaded move. Throw them on a trickle charge and see how well they hold the charge after sitting, this will be a good indicator.
3. Services/Systems Checks
Did you service the boat in the fall before you put her away or do you wait till the spring to do everything.
For example: If you own an outboard did you do your gear oil while winterizing or do you wait for the spring? Personally, I change the gear oil in my lower unit on my outboard in the fall but wait until the spring after I blow out the fogging oil to do my plugs. But what if you have an I/O did you service the drive yet, bellows service? How about a generator did you do the oil change on that or your engine mains?
Go through all your systems on board make sure everything is working perfectly and if something isn't get ahead of it before you splash the boat because if you wait too long you will go on a long list of boaters waiting for all the top mechanics to get down to their boats.
Also inspect all running gear and make sure its up to par and you don't need to recondition props or replace them and your struts and shafts look good.
4. Inspect your dock gear
Go through all of your dock lines and fenders and make sure they are ready to go. Nothing is worse than making sure the rest of your boat is turn key only to find out your dock lines are chaffed and fenders are shot. Guess what, then that beautiful, shiny perfectly functioning boat of yours will break free from the dock or rubbing up against a pylon scratching up that wonderfully buffed gelcoat!
If the lines are chaffed, replace them, if your fenders are old and dried out, replace them. If your dock lines are a little stiff let them soak in a fabric softener and water mix to help get the salt off of them or if the fenders are just dirty, use a mild citrus cleaner to clean them off.
5. HAVE FUN
This is by far the most important of the 5 things, thats why we all got into boating anyway isn't it?! To just breathe and unwind a little bit, take in the salt air and refresh for the upcoming week ahead.
I hope this helps you jumpstart your boating season off on the right foot. If theres something you do that we didn't mention, I'd love to hear it, drop your regiment in the comments section. If you ever have any questions be sure to give us a call at 516-366-0727.
Safe Boating - Austin