Boat maintenance for the season

By Tom Keer

Mar 09, 2016

After a season of being cooped up we're ready to splash our boats.

After a season of being cooped up we're ready to splash our boats. When we head out prefer words like "jacked up" or "cranked up" to describe our excitement...not the state of our trailer being "jacked up" to repair a flat or a boat that won't get "cranked up." Here are some things to check on every time you hit the water that will make sure you'll have an easy time, every time.

Motor: Flush engines after every use. Attach garden hoses with fresh water to four-stroke systems or use Rabbit Ears on two-stroke models (especially if you're running in the salt). While your engine is on the rinse cycle take a look at fuel tank clamps, oil levels, filtration and coolant. Heavy use requires a top off so your engine is running optimally.

Electrical: Water-plus-electricity doesn't mix, so be sure all wires are in tact. Waterproof connectors shrink and expand during temperature changes, and any water that sneaks in can corrode a terminal. For exposed connections, clean with a wire brush or steel wool and protect with a water-repellant grease to keep connections in tact. If work gets in the way of regular outings, attach a trickle charger and recharge your battery.

Trailer: Breaking down at the side of the road is no fun, so check your trailer tires for wear and proper inflation. Rotate every 6 months or 5,000 miles and fill when necessary. Check your hitch for smooth operation, and replace rusted safety chains.

Lighting is really important so test regularly to ensure that all connections are working, that corroded terminals are cleaned, that damaged wires are replaced, and that bulbs are in working order. Pack wheel bearings with bearing grease every time. Rollers and bunk brackets rust from repeated launch/hauls, and a good time to check them is when your boat is off the trailer. And pack a road side emergency kit for those inevitable break downs. Some common items to include are jacks, spare tires, spare light bulbs, grease, a wire brush for cleaning terminals, and tie-down straps.

Regular boat maintenance helps us get done with the launching and on to the fishing. And what a great place that is....Don’t forget to register your boat within your state of residence before hitting the water!

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