How to Get Your Boat (and Equipment) Ready for Summer

Man polishing his boat and boat equipment.

Your boat has been in storage for months as you’ve waited for winter to finally end. And now that it’s over, you can’t wait to get out on the water. Before you set off, make sure your boat and your boating equipment are ready for the season by following these tips:

  • Give your boat an inspection. Even if you store your boat in a protective shelter, it’s still possible it sustained damage over the winter. Before bringing it to the landing, inspect your boat. Hoses and other rubber parts may have been affected by dry rot since your last time out. You should also check metal surfaces and electrical areas to be sure they haven’t been corroded by any moisture.
  • Check your water pump’s rubber impeller. The rubber impeller helps your water pump deliver water to the engine to keep it cool. Unfortunately, rubber impellers only last about two years (or 200 hours) before they need to be replaced. When you inspect your water pump, make sure to look at the rubber impeller. A functioning unit will prevent your engine from overheating.
  • Make sure your fluids are full. Like your car, your boat needs several fluids to run. Make sure your oil, power steering, power trim, coolant and gear oil are all at satisfactory levels before you head out.
  • Test the battery. If your battery is more than four years old, it’s probably time for a replacement. Even if it’s not nearly that old, test it before you head out on the water. The last thing you want is for it to die while you’re in the middle of open water.
  • Bring it to the experts for a tune-up. It’s worth having a professional take a look at things each year. Boat equipment, such as your engine, will probably require a tune-up after going months without use. The tune-up will also include a compression test and seal and water pump inspection. Your mechanic will also check the lubricant in the lower unit, inspect warning alarms and test the spark plugs.
  • Pack your safety gear. Packing for a day on the water should include more than just water skis and sunglasses. Make sure your boat has the appropriate boating equipment on board. This includes life jackets, fire extinguishers, visual distress signals, a bailer, an anchor, a first aid kit, a flashlight and a bell or whistle. You should also make sure to bring a fully charged cell phone with you whenever you head out.

Next, learn about essential boating safety tips.

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