Spring has practically sprung and it’s time to get that boat from storage so preparations for the summer season can commence! Don’t leave it late or you might find that your boat needs more work than you first thought before you can let your horses out on the water.
There is no worse feeling than taking out the boat for the first day of the new season and having your fun cut short by some electrical problem or cracked hose that had occurred during her winter hibernation. In fact, it does get worse; not only could it put an abrupt end to your long anticipated first day of boating, but a small problem that sneaked under the radar when you did your fleeting post-winter checks, such as a damaged propeller for instance, could cause major damage to your drive train and cost you a boatload of money at the end of the day. So best you construct a checklist and make sure everything is shipshape before tearing off around the dam on September 1st.
All systems go
First off, check that your fuel system is working as it should. As much as it hurts to chuck out valuable petrol, the first task would be to drain and refill your fuel tank. Especially if the fuel in your tank is more than a month old, as the ethanol in the fuel would have collected water over the winter – even if you prepared it with a marine fuel treatment. Inspect the system for leaks or damage and pay special attention to hoses, connections and tank surfaces. A fuel hose should be replaced immediately if it shows any signs of softness, brittleness or cracking. Then, replace spark plugs, fuel filters, lower unit lube and your water pump’s impeller if it’s more than two years old. Your fuel lines, throttle, steering and shift cables and connections should also be supple, tight and working smoothly.
Make sure that your fluid levels are what they should be, including engine oil, power steering, power trim reservoirs and coolants. Change the engine oil, oil filter and drive lubricants if you didn’t take care of those tasks prior to winter.
Make sure that your boat’s electrics are in smooth working order before you leave shore or it could prove costly. Corroded cables can become hazardous so ensure that all electrical connections are clean, tight and corrosion-free. Remove corroded terminals and use a wire brush to clean them or replace them, along with cable ends. Also, check your batteries and charge them if need be or replace them if they are more than two years old.
Check props, properly
Many boaters neglect to check their propeller before the season kicks off, often to their detriment. It is important to remove your prop to check for dings, chips, pitting, cracks or distortion. Damaged propellers can cause vibration and ultimately damage your drive train. Fishing line under the prop can cause the prop shaft seals to fail and it’s therefore advisable to do a thorough inspection. While you’re at it, examine the anodes on the shaft, outdrive or trim tabs if needed, and also check that the rubber is in good health. After lubing the prop shaft, check that it isn’t bent by turning it slowly by hand, then re-torque the prop to factory specs.