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Is Your Boat Ready For Boating Season? Check These Things Before Warm Weather Arrives

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Summer Boating Fun At Lake Of The Ozarks

With just under a month until it’s officially spring, boaters are counting down the days to warmer weather and boating season. While we’re eager to get our boats back on the water, there are a number of things that need to be addressed, during your spring commissioning, to ensure the first ride of the season is as seamless and enjoyable as possible.

You’ll want to do some basic DIY maintenance to see if anything needs to be updated or replaced. While some of the basics like checking/replacing your oil and battery, inspecting/cleaning the engine and replenishing the fuel are obvious, there a handful of other areas you should inspect and check off your list to ensure your boat is safe and ready for peak performance:

Electrical. Be sure to inspect electrical switches, fuses, and bus bars for corrosion or damage, and replace as necessary.  It couldn’t hurt to spray with corrosion inhibitor. Check the running lights, port, starboard and stern lights. Is your battery in need of replacing?

Electronics. Familiarize yourself with your GPS Chartplotter or Fishfinder. These systems are so complex these days, there may be additional features or benefits you may not be aware of, or that may have been released in a recent software update. Some software updates can be done via WIFI or you can download the update from your computer onto an Sd card that goes into your plotter. 

It might also be a good time to treat yourself to an upgrade. It’s been a long winter: you deserve it!

Be sure to check the expiration on your charts cards as well. You don’t want to lose mapping capabilities in the middle on your day on the water. 

Pumps. After the electrical aspects of the boat are taken care of, you’ll want to move on to the pumps to make sure your vessel will not collect excess water, which could lead to performance problems, and in a worst-case scenario, sinking.

Bilge pumps are a boat’s primary line of defense against sinking, so it’s important to maintain them properly. First, you’ll want to make sure the bilge is clean and free of any debris and oily residue that can clog the pump. Next, double check to make sure your pump is installed properly and in an accessible location to easily wash down the strainer and pump chamber, as well as inspect the diaphragm and valves for any damage. If the condition of your pump is at a point of no return, be sure to replace it before your first trip!

And for the fishermen out there, now is a great time to clean and test the functionality of your livewell pump.

Under the boat. You won’t be traveling anywhere by boat if your propellers aren’t in ship shape! Examine them for any noticeable damage, including nicks and dents, and make sure there is nothing tangled in the shaft. If the damage is irreparable, be sure to get them replaced. Is your hull in need of attention?  Are there areas in need of repair? Do you need bottom paint? 

Also, look at the transducer to make sure it’s functioning properly to ensure accurate readings of depth, structure and movement, which includes checking the brackets to make sure it was not damaged during transportation. 

Dock. Now that the interior and exterior of your vessel is ready for the boating season, you’ll want to shift your focus to where you’ll be storing it for the coming months to reduce the risk of damage and ensure passengers are able to get on and off the boat safely.

First, check that the dock lights are working to increase visibility, that cleats are secure and will hold your boat in place, and that your dock lines are in good shape. Also, be sure to check the stability and condition of your dock ladder to make sure there are no loose screws, rungs or damage.

If you have a lift, check the winch and cable, keeping in mind that they should be replaced every three to four years. Next, examine the hardware with an eye towards any area that needs grease or spray lubricant and any loose, damaged, or corroded bolts or screws.

Emergency Supplies. As a final step toward taking your boat out of its winter hiatus, it’s important to make sure you have all the necessary supplies on board in the event of an emergency. This includes:

  • Assembling your ditch bag
  • Making sure you have a functional VHF radio
  • Placing a medical kit on board
  • Storing an appropriate amount of life jackets
  • Having ample tow rope and flares handy
  • Double checking the expiration date on any personal flotation devices
  • Obtaining boat registration, if applicable

While many of these tasks can be completed on your own, if there is anything you’re uncertain of how to do, be sure to call a professional for additional guidance. It may seem daunting now, but once all of these tasks are complete, you are primed for a successful and enjoyable boating season and it will all have been worth it!