Get Ready to Splash

We’re coming off what seems like an Endless Winter, with even traditionally tropical regions getting cold temperatures if not snow.  Regardless, it’ll soon be spring and that means it’s time to get your boat ready for the water.  Here are some check points to consider.

De-winterize your engine.  Issues with oil are a leading culprit of engine problems, so start there.  If you didn’t winterize your boat, change your engine oil, your filter, and your lower unit, too.
Inspect your fuel system.  Look for leaks or cracks in hoses that came from cold temperatures.  What to look for: soft, brittle or cracked hoses and replace where necessary.  Be sure exhaust and ventilation systems are working properly, too.  Replace water pumps that are over two years old.

Fluids.  After you’ve finished the oil, check your power steering, power trim reservoirs, and coolant.
Propellers.  Inspect propellers for cracks, pitting, or dents.  If they can be repaired, do so, and if not replace.  Also check the cotter pins and bearings that secure your propeller.  Lubricate the propeller shaft and torque to specifications.

Hulls.  Look for blisters or cracks, and if your boat has been on jacks then look for distortions.  Clean with a hull cleaner and apply a fresh coat of wax or bottom paint.

Electronics.  Remove all terminals and clean with a wire brush to improve contact points. If they are corroded then replace. Charge your battery and be sure that it continues to hold a charge.

Belts and Cables.  Like hoses, belts and cables can deteriorate over time.  Be sure they are tight and that there are no cracks. If you see a lot of black near the pulleys then be concerned.  Check steering, throttle and shift cables and ensure proper tightness and smooth movement.

Hook up your boat to your truck and inspect your navigational signals. Also check out u-bolts that hold bunks and lubricate rollers.

Fire it up.  Add rabbit ears connected to a hose and crank the outboard.  Fill with new gas.
Check all safety gear like anchors, flares, radios, and PFD’s.

Soon, winter will be in our rear-view mirror, and by getting our boats ready for the season we’ll have a great time on the water.  I can hardly wait!

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Tom Keer

Tom Keer

Tom Keer is an award-winning writer who lives on Cape Cod, Massachusetts.  He is a columnist for the Upland Almanac, a Contributing Writer for Covey Rise magazine, a Contributing Editor for both Fly Rod and Reel and Fly Fish America, and a blogger for the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation’s Take Me Fishing program.  Keer writes regularly for over a dozen outdoor magazines on topics related to fishing, hunting, boating, and other outdoor pursuits.  When they are not fishing, Keer and his family hunt upland birds over their three English setters.  His first book, a Fly Fishers Guide to the New England Coast was released in January 2011.  Visit him at or at