Getting Ready for Boating Season

As the weather warms up, it’s time to retrieve your boat from winter storage and get it ready for the upcoming boating season. With everything it takes to prepare a boat for the water, we’ve put a checklist to together to help you to prepare for your boating adventures.

Inspect Your Boat’s Electrical Systems

There are several good reasons to ensure your boat’s electronics are working correctly. Here are a few important things to do when inspecting your boat’s electrical systems:

  • Remove electrical connections to the battery
  • Check the battery terminals for signs of corrosion
  • Use a wire brush to clean the battery’s terminals and connecting clamps
  • Use a volt meter and be sure that your battery’s performing according to specifications

Now it’s time to test your boat’s electrical components. If you find any issues, check the fuse box, wiring and the component itself for problems. Take a look at the appliances and electronics and verify they’re all operating as designed:

  • The GPS
  • Bilge pump
  • Running lights
  • Power trim
  • Blowers
  • Depth finder
  • Compass
  • Radio

Review Your Boat’s Mechanical Systems

Before you put the boat in the water, take a close look at the engine and drivetrain. If you spent some time over the fall last year prepping for winter, this will be a quick check up. Here’s a list of items to review:

  • Perform oil maintenance
  • Check and top-off all fluids
  • Inspect and gap spark plugs
  • Inspect propeller
  • Check fuel system and fuel filters
  • Check belts, cables and hoses
  • Run and purge the antifreeze from the bilge
  • Water system and restroom – drain antifreeze and wipe down stainless steel

General Boat Inspection and Preparation Tips

After all the hard work of getting the boat into ship shape is behind you, it’s time to examine and clean the rest of the vessel. Here’s how to prevent on-the-water headaches with a little pre-season TLC:

  • Store and wash the boat cover, or properly dispose of the shrink wrap
  • Inspect all lines, masts, and anchors
  • Take a close look at the hull — wash and wax if necessary
  • Wipe down and clean the interior
  • Air out and rinse all sails and covers
  • Inventory, wash and place all safety gear

Boat Safety and Emergency Preparedness

If you encounter trouble on the water, help can be hard to reach. That’s why it’s important to prepare thoroughly for problems and be ready to handle emergencies on your own.

In a waterproof bag, store bottled water, a blanket, extra jackets and hats. Keep flares, flashlights, batteries and a first-aid kit in a separate one, too. Here are a few boat safety and emergency preparedness must-dos:

  • Inspect the fire extinguishers
  • Test the smoke and carbon monoxide detectors
  • Get your keys on a float
  • Safely store miscellaneous documents on the boat

Inspect Your Boat’s Trailer

Over the winter, your boat’s trailer may have also aged. By verifying that the trailer’s operating as designed, it'll be safer to use and it will last longer. Hook your trailer’s electrical harness up to the towing vehicle, and verify that the following items are in proper working order.

  • Trailer tail lights
  • Trailer reverse lights
  • Trailer brake lights
  • License plate lights
  • The tire pressure is correct
  • The tires are in good shape
  • Grease the wheel bearings
  • Inspect the safety chains
  • Verify the carpet on the running boards is in good shape

Complying With Trailer Inspection and Brake Requirements

Some states require that your trailer be inspected every boating season to ensure it’s in good condition and operating safely. Check in with your local DMV and get it inspected if necessary. Your boat’s registration will likely need to be renewed as well, so be sure that’s in place before launching.

And, before you hit the road, check your brakes. When over a certain weight threshold, your trailer may require brakes. Be sure your trailer’s in compliance with the related state and coast guard codes. And knowing how to handle a boat safely on the water is another important way to help ensure you’re ready for the summer fun ahead.

Make sure you check with your American Family Insurance agent and verify that you’ve got the right coverage for your boat before you hit the water. By being fully prepared for the summer fun ahead, you’ll find it’s easier to relax and enjoy yourself when the water calls.

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Related Topics: Travel , Boat , RV , ATV