It’s warm outside and if you’re a boater, ‘tis the season for sailing yet again. Before you take your vehicle out of winter hibernation, however, you’ll need to make some adjustments to make sure it’s all smooth sailing once you put your expensive toy in the water. While routine maintenance and checks on all the moving parts in your boat are important all year round, dewinterizing a boat probably requires the most work. You must not skip this step in your impatience to get out onto the water. The life of your boat depends on proper winterization and dewinterization. Your owner’s manual will have instructions that are specific to your boat’s model and make. Make sure to override all other tips that conflict with those in your manual.
Keep in mind that if you did not winterize before storing your boat for winter, the following steps may not suffice in getting your boat in tip-top shape.
Before you wash your boat, first inspect the entire vehicle for cracks and damages. Also check for loose rivets, which you’ll need to repair right away.
You can wipe down the interior of the boat and power wash the exterior. Use a scrub brush with medium to soft bristles and a mild soap that is still tough enough to remove salt water. Dry the boat completely with towels before waxing. The wax will give your boat a layer of protection during your new adventures.
Refill the boat’s battery with distilled water. Check to see how strong the charge is. The shelf-life of a typical boat battery is 4 or 5 years. If your battery doesn’t have a strong charge, it may be time to replace it.
If your battery is working fine, remove the wires from the charger posts and clean them thoroughly using a wire brush. Next, use lithium grease to coat and protect the posts.
Spark Plugs & Caps
Make sure they are in good shape. It’s not a bad idea to change these out once a year, especially if your motor is not oil injected. Clean the distributor cap or change it if it looks worn or damaged.
Replace your zincs now and again mid-season to prevent corrosion, which is the worst kind of damage to a boat.
Turn all the knobs and switches on to see if they are still working properly. Since everything is connected to one system, make sure that you’re checking every single switch throughout the boat. If everything seems to be working fine, turn off the battery and check if the automatic bilge pump float switch works.
Engine Oil & Fluids
See if you’re low on oil first. Unless you changed the oil and filter before you stored your vehicle, change them now. Also, make sure to check the outdrive oil as well. You’ll also want to make sure you have the right levels of power steering fluid and coolant.
If you see what looks like a leak beneath the engine or if you see cracks in the fuel lines, it’s best to have a professional technician take a look at your boat before you use it.
If everything seems okay, however, you may want to start the engine and then let it run in neutral for a few minutes to burn off any fogger that you may have used when winterizing the boat.
Cooling System, Gas Tank & Fuel Lines
When you winterized you emptied out the cooling system, so don’t forget to fill it up with water and antifreeze. If you didn’t drain the cooling system before storing your boat, do it now and refill it. Check the entire area around the cooling system for cracks, leaks and worn parts. If it looks a mess, have it looked at by a professional technician before you get stranded in the water with a faulty boat.
Make sure the gas tank and fuel lines have not rusted over the winter months. If moisture settled and froze, the fuel lines may be cracked or damaged and will need to be replaced.
Again, go back into your engine and check the connecting belts. If they feel worn to the touch, you’ll need to replace them. You may also need to replace them if they give too much. You can check by pushing down on the belt. It should be pretty resistant. If it’s not, replace it. Also, you’ll need a new belt if you find black dust or soot near the engine.
Make sure that all of your safety equipment is not damaged and has not expired. Check fire extinguishers for their expiration dates and check horns and whistles. Make sure your flares still work and that you have enough flotation devices and that they are in good condition.
Boat accidents do happen. If you are financing your boat, chances are that you are required to carry insurance. Even if you own your boat already and boater’s insurance is not required in your state, there are many reasons why it’s foolish not to buy a policy. If you cause a collision, you can easily be sued for damages for thousands of dollars. If your boat is stolen and uninsured, you will be left with nothing. Or, if you set sail in a storm, which damages your boat, you’ll be on your own to pay for repairs. It just doesn’t pay to set sail before you get the right protection. Call (866) 501-7335 to speak with a knowledgeable Insurance Specialist about the options available to you.
The information in this article was obtained from various sources. This content is offered for educational purposes only and does not represent contractual agreements, nor is it intended to replace manuals or instructions provided by the manufacturer or the advice of a qualified professional. The definitions, terms, and coverage in a given policy may be different than those suggested here and such policy will be governed by the language contained therein. No warranty or appropriateness for a specific purpose is expressed or implied.