Boat Maintenance in Spring

27 March 2011 On The Water
Spring checklist for boat maintenance.

Basic maintenance in the spring ensures a problem-free boating season.
A boat-maintenance checklist is a good start to keeping the boats clean and in good condition.


Spring Boat Maintenance Checklist

How do you get your boat ready in the spring?
Before putting the boat in the water and heading to the favourite fishing hole for the first time it is important to ensure the boat is as ready to go as you are. The life expectancy of your boat depends on how well you maintain it.

Here is a spring checklist for the cottage boat.

User’s Manual
Always have your manufacturer’s manual handy when planning to work on the boat. If you don’t have one, go to the boat manufacturer’s website or your local dealer to order one.

If you took the boat keys home for the winter, remember to bring them with you when you go to put the boat in the water for the first time. It’s a simple thing, but an important one. That’s why we make checklists.

Some people attach the keys and the drain plug to the steering wheel when they do the fall maintenance.

Hull Maintenance
Check the hull for any damage that might have occurred during the winter or while the boat was being transport from the winter storage location to the lake.

Clean the hull thoroughly and apply a fresh coat of wax. This is a tedious job and should be done in the fall but it is important for protecting the hull as well as making the boat move through the water as smoothly as possible which helps reduce your fuel costs over the boating season. It also forces you to inspect the hull more carefully for any small cracks or punctures that might be missed on a general inspection of the hull.

Drain Plug
Before you put the boat in the water, make sure the drain plug is properly fastened. Check to ensure that the plug is actually in the drain hole and not placed in the intake for the live well. Once the boat is in the water, check the plug again before you take off.

Boat Battery
If you removed the battery in the fall, don’t forget to put it back into the boat before you head to the marina. Check the battery to make sure it is fully charged.

Connect the motor to the battery. Make sure you put the wires on the correct points.

If the boat battery has been sitting all winter, it may have lost some or all of its charge. Try to start the motor before you put the boat in the water to see if there is enough juice left in the battery. Don’t run the motor when it is out of the water, just check to see if it will turn over.

Safety Equipment
Take an inventory of all the required boat safety equipment and check for damage. Replace any safety items that are worn, torn, or broken. Fines for not having the required safety gear aboard the boat can be expensive, so it is worth the time to make sure all of the safety gear is in order.

Boat Cover
Check all the canvas coverings and vinyl for rips, dirt, or mold. Tears in the cover may indicate that the critters have gotten into the boat over the winter. Clean the cover and repair any damage immediately rather than setting the cover aside and promising yourself you will repair it later. You will likely forget about the damaged cover and then use it again in the fall without repairing it because you won’t have time.

Critter Damage
Check for critter damage like chewed wires, ripped seats, nests, and droppings. Mice and raccoons can really mess up the boat over the winter. You want to inspect all the wires carefully and replace any that have been damaged.

Electronic Boat Equipment
Install all of the electronic gadgets and make sure they are working properly, before you head out onto the lake. Depth finders and maps are critical in areas with submerged rocks, reefs, and low water points. You don’t want to damage the hull or break off the lower end of the motor.

Inside the Boat
Clean the inside of the boat thoroughly and organize all equipment properly. This has to be done right away because you probably won’t do it later. Aside from the good feeling you get when the boat is clean and fresh, the process also forces you to look for small problems that might otherwise be overlooked.

Ideally, you cleaned the boat in the fall so there shouldn’t be much to do in the spring.

Tighten all pole mounts, clips, holders, and anything else that has screws or clamps that may have come loose last year or during the transportation of the boat.

Take the time to polish all the metal. It’s your boat, take pride in it and make it look good!

Boat Bilge Pump
Check the operation of the bilge pump. This is one of the most important pieces of equipment on your boat. Check the connections to the battery and add some water to test the bilge pump’s operation. Never assume that it is working correctly, even if it was fine when you put the boat into storage in the fall.

Boat Insurance
Make sure your insurance policy is up to date on the boat, motors, and trailer. If you bought a new boat motor, make sure the documentation has been updated with the insurance company.

Ropes and Lines
Replace worn ropes, lines, and cables. It is risky to use old ones that are damaged. If a line breaks and your boat floats away from the dock, the possible damage costs for your boat and the other ones it might hit are much higher than the cost of replacing the ropes.

Also check the cables such as the steering cables to ensure they are in good condition.

Test the horn. You may not use it all summer but it must be functioning properly.

Go to the Nautical Alphabet and Horn Signals page to see the standard horn blast boating signals.

Proper boat maintenance in the spring and fall will ensure that the boat always runs safely and efficiently.

Need more boating tips?
Got to the Boat Motor Maintenance page.
Go to the Boat Motor Positioning page.
Go to the Boating Safety page.
Go to the Boat Trailer Maintenance page.
Go to the Removing boat stains page.