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Getting your boat ready for the season: Your spring boating checklist

When the first signs of spring show up – the first flower buds, sweater weather, baseball season begins – boaters are ready to get back on the water. After months of too-cold temperatures, going out fishing or simply for a pleasure cruise is a sure sign that spring has truly arrived.

Boats are treasured possessions – and expensive ones – so it’s no wonder that their owners take such good care of them. After bundling boats up for winter storage, though, there’s a lot to think about before putting them back on the water.

Consider these tips to get your boat back in working condition for the spring and summer boating seasons.

* Mechanical maintenance. Your boat won’t be much fun if it’s plagued with mechanical failures throughout the season. Get out your checklist of spring marine engine preparation steps and start working to cross the items off. Some tasks include replacing the fuel filter, changing the engine oil and oil filter, lubricating fittings, topping off gas tanks and using an additive that will absorb moisture that developed while the boat was in storage.

* Inspect the exterior. Giving your boat a thorough spring check-up involves more than looking at the mechanics. Inspect propellers, looking for cracks, dings, warping or misalignment, which could cause damage to the drive train. You should also take a slow walk around your boat, checking the hull for any chipping, blistering and peeling. Once you’ve confirmed that everything is good to go, give your boat a washing with an environmentally safe cleanser.

* Get your gear ready. Going boating is about more than just the boat. You’ll need to ensure that your stock of boating supplies is full and ready for action. That includes water safety gear like personal floatation devices (PFDs), water sports supplies like tow ropes for waterskiing or tubing, and a safety kit.

* Up-to-date documentation. To make sure you won’t run into any legal troubles, ensure that your boat license is current. The fees associated with licensing will vary by the type of boat you own – but don’t forget that every watercraft needs to be registered. It’s also a good choice to get boat insurance to protect your investment. To be truly prepared in case of damage or theft, maintain a boat inventory list to which you can refer in an emergency.

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