If you prepped the boat, electronics and engine properly last fall, de-winterizing a boat should be quick and easy. Here’s how to get a boat ready for the water.
- Remove and wash the cover.
- Wash the exterior and clean the interior.
- With aluminum hulls and pontoons, check for broken welds, cracks or loose hardware like rivets.
- Check for cracked, torn or moldy seat upholstery. Deploy the bimini to scout for bird and bee or wasp nests.
- Inspect all deck fittings for breaks and check stowage compartments for unwanted guests.
- Charge the battery(ies). Clean the terminals and check for tightness.
- Check water and fuel lines for cracks or rodent damage.
- Double check any hose clamps.
- Inspect the pumps including bilge, washdown and livewell versions for corrosion and proper functioning.
- If you have a livewell and winterized it, flush antifreeze out of the lines so you don’t kill your first batch of baits.
- Inspect the steering system and throttle controls. They should work smoothly and be properly lubricated.
- Set aside extra time to inspect the outboard engine and don’t forget the trolling motor.
- Inspect the propeller to make sure it’s tight and free of dings. Look to see if the skeg is bent or damaged.
- Turn on and run the engine at idle after attaching it to a water source.
- Test the power trim and tilt for proper operation.
- Inspect the entire wiring harness for corrosion or rodent damage.
- Inspect the fuel system, including the lines and tanks, and then add fresh fuel. Old gasoline can cause clogging.
- Check the cooling intake for debris that could cause a clog.
- Replace the fuel filter, fuel/water separator and spark plugs.
- Service or replace the anodes.
- Service the lower unit by draining and refreshing the oil.
- Wax the cowl to protect it from UV damage and make it easier to clean.
- Turn on your electronics and running and interior lights. Test your horn and stereo system to ensure both are working.
- Inspect safety gear including lifejackets, dock lines, anchor and first aid kit.
- Inspect the trailer including the frame, bunks and rollers, wheels, axels, tires (including the spare), winch stand and strap, break lights, and safety chains.
If the complexity of engine maintenance is beyond your comfort zone, bring the boat to your dealer for professional service. Finally, before you set out on the road or the water, make sure the registration for the boat and trailer are current and your fishing license and boating permits are up to date. Don’t forget about boat and trailer insurance and towing assistance membership fees.
If you take the time to winterize carefully, your Lowe boat commissioning can be done in a day or a weekend, and you’ll be out on the water safely in no time.