The colder days of winter are almost coming to an end. If you are like most boaters, you cannot wait to get your boat out of storage and back to the water. However, you need to de-winterize your ship and prepare it for the new season to enhance performance and safety and prevent issues that could keep you off the ocean. If you are unsure about preparing your vessel for spring, the following are six ways to get the boat ready to launch.
1. Clean the vessel
Even if you had covered your boat for winter, dirt, dust, and debris still find their way into the vessel. For this reason, you should deep clean your Boat Storage and out before taking it back into the water.
Be sure to clean the hatches and windows, polish and clean metal and oil, and clean any tick. You should also give the deck, topsides, and hull a deep clean and apply a new coat of wax. Remember to check the scuppers and drains to ensure they are clear while cleaning out bilges. Contact Van Isle Glass if you notice any cracks and damage on your buying a boat windows while cleaning for repairs and replacement.
2. Check the batteries
Batteries tend to freeze and drain down quickly on colder winter days, especially if they were left inside the vessel when storing it. Removing the batteries from the boat and putting them on a trickle charger when storing your boat for winter is best. However, whether you keep the batteries inside or remove them before storing your boat, you should test the battery before launching.
Be sure to invest in a load tester and a hydrometer to check your batteries. A load tester allows you to determine the battery’s capacity on an easy-to-decipher display. The load testers have a green, yellow, and red display that simplifies data to allow all boaters to understand whether they are mechanically inclined or not.
A hydrometer is a tool that enables you to determine the gravity of each battery cell to understand its ability to hold charge. Hydrometers also ensure you check your battery fluid level. You could then top the battery fluid level with distilled water. Routine battery checks and servicing can help expand your vessel’s battery life.
3. Perform a bellows check
Bellows leakage is one of the most significant causes of the sinking of outboard and inboard vessels at the dock. For this reason, even if the bellows were in excellent condition before storing the ship for winter, you should inspect them before returning your boat to the water.
Inspect the bellows with the sterndrive lowered and raised while checking for cracks or marine life, such as oysters and barnacles, that could be sharp enough to tear the bellows open. If your inboard or outboard (I/O) vessel has shift and exhaust cable bellows, you should also perform a thorough inspection on the as well. Replace any bellows that are not in excellent condition to enhance safety.
4. Check the engine fluids
Most manufacturers recommend changing the gearcase and engine oil at least once each year or every 100 hours of using the boat. For this reason, if you did not change the oils in the fall while winterizing, you should consider performing this service before you take your vessel out for the new season. Be sure to warm up the motor before changing the engine fluids. This suspends any contaminants or sludge that may have built up on the pan’s bottom in the oil, making it easy to drain.
5. Check the cockpit drain
The deck and cockpit drain often accumulate a lot of skanks, including critters, dirt, and leaves over winter. This could clog and slow the cockpit drain, which could cause your vessel to sink, especially if your boat is older. Consider sending a high-pressure water burst from a hose into each drain to ensure it is not clogged. Be sure to check the thru-hull fitting when unclogging the cockpit drain. A plastic fitting is likely to degrade due to exposure to sunlight, and if it cracks, it could let water into the vessel.
6. Inspect, repair, and clean the canvas
Check your vessel’s canvas goods, including enclosure panels, dodgers, cushions, and bimini. Inspect and repair any loose stitching or threads and rodent damage while patching torn and worn-out areas on your canvas from underneath before launching your vessel. Do not hesitate to wash the canvas with appropriate cleaners if the canvas is dirty.
The best way to ensure safe boating this spring and avoid issues that keep you off water is to prep your vessel for the water. Deep clean your boat, check the batteries, and engine fluids, unclog the cockpit drain, and inspect, clean and repair the canvas to prepare your runabout for spring. If you are looking at having new boats, you may check out boat classifieds online.