So, you have got that itching spring fever to uncover the boat and get her wet for the first time this season. There is nothing worse than being gathered at the dock with a boat-load of people and you turn the key and…rrr..rrr..rrr…and nothing. It is likely this will happen if you do not take the time to de-winterize your boat. Do an inspection before setting out on the first trip of the season.
To avoid any embarrassment and frustration, use the following pre-launch checklist to get your boat as ready for the boating season.
If you did not change the engine oil when you put the boat up for the season, now is the time to do it. Make sure you change the oil filter also. Check the oil in the outdrive.
Reattach the cables. Make sure the terminals are not corroded. If so, wipe them clean. If your battery takes water, fill it up. A dry battery is a bad battery. (I learned that the hard way.) With a battery tester, check the volts and amps. Does it have juice? If it is charged and still no luck, it may be time to buy a new battery.
Hopefully you drained the cooling system if you live in a cold winter climate to prevent freezing. If so, fill ‘er back up. Rinse out the strainer and check the hoses for cracks.
You also should have topped off the tank with gas to prevent any moisture and condensation forming in the tank and diluting the gas. Change the fuel filter. Make sure the fuel line is attached and not cracked. In the winter these hoses can become dry and brittle.
Take the distributor cap off and clean it out. Corrosion could have occurred during the winter. Make sure all connections are restored.
Tighten the belts if needed. You should only be able to push the belt slightly down. If the belts do not fit snugly in their pulley grooves, they may be worn and in need of replacement. Belts that are not tight will wear faster because they will likely begin to slip. The alternator belt usually wears faster than the others. A sign of a worn belt is black soot somewhere in the vicinity of the pulley.
Other Things That Should Not Be Ignored:
- Change the spark plugs
- Lubricate the engine with WD-40
- Check all hoses
- Check power steering/cables
- Test the bilge pump
- Replace the drain plug
- Check rudder and shafts
- Inspect the prop
- Test the horn
- Test the VHF radio
- Check the trim
- Inspect personal flotation devices
- Check the fire extinguisher expiration date
- Make sure the anchor in on board
The above de-winterizing tips are only a list of suggested things to do your boat that I’ve collected over the years. Each boat may vary as to what needs to be done to de-winterize it. For complete instructions please see your boat’s owner’s manual or consult your boat mechanic.