Boating season is whenever you want it to be in Texas, really, as long as the sun is out and the fish are swimming. Well, really, those aren’t essential to getting your boat on the water, but you get the idea.
However, most of us only take our boat out in the spring and summer, after storing it for the “winter”.
Leaving your boat in dry dock or storage for a while means you need to do some boat maintenance when it’s time to get it back in the water. Keeping your boat maintained is the best way to prolong its life, and to keep you and your passengers safe.
Keep reading for some boat maintenance tips that will keep you cool and safe on the water.
Boat Maintenance Tips
Don’t leave the dock without …
1. Double Checking Your Boat Insurance
You should not own a boat if you don’t own boat insurance. Too many things can go wrong in the water, and you don’t want to put your friends and family or your boat at risk.
Getting coverage for your boat should be easy – especially if you insure with Kicker Insures Me Agency. You can get a quote online (instant) or talk to someone over the phone during working hours.
If you are insured already, run a quick quote check to see if switching can save you money. Then, double-check the dates on your policy to make sure your boat is still covered.
2. Looking Over the Fuel System
When you get the boat out of storage, you want to take a good look over the fuel system. Leaking gas or fluids into the water where your family and others swim is a definite water-party foul as well as horrible for the environment, the water and the sea life.
Look over hoses, connections, and tanks for any cracks or corrosion. Make sure there’s no evidence of dripping fluids or puddles inside the compartment.
Look at your fittings and clamps to make sure they’re tight and secure.
3. Making Sure Your Electrical System is Spark(ling)
You don’t have to be an electrician to look over your boat’s electrical system, though you should call one if you spot a problem.
Start out by taking a wire brush and getting rid of any corrosion you see on the battery terminals or cables.
Test your battery and replace or charge it if need be. Make sure all the wires are in good shape and they’re securely attached to their terminals.
If your boat has a backup battery, give that a quick check as well. You want to be thorough, as getting stuck out on the water is no fun. It’s unlikely you’ll need it, but check it just to make sure.
4. Checking Your Fluids
Just like you need to check the fluids in your car every so often, you also need to look at your boat’s fluid. That means making sure it has enough clean engine fluid, power steering fluid, and coolant after it’s been stored.
Almost every boat owner’s manual will tell you to change your oil at the end of the season, or before you put the boat in storage. If you didn’t change your boat’s oil before you stored it, be sure to do it right away. You can do it yourself or pay to get it done at a dockside marina, or a boat mechanic.
A good tip: don’t roll into Jiffy Lube with your boat and expect them to know what to do!
5. Fill Up on Gas
You should top up your gas immediately after you do the above steps. That way you’re starting off the boating season with a full tank and you don’t have to worry about making a stop once you have the whole family in the car.
If you have (covered) storage at your dock or lake house, bring a container of gasoline with you to keep in the garage. That way if you’re feeling nervous about how low your gas is and you don’t want to chance it to the nearest marina, you can top off what you have without hauling your boat out of the water.
6. Spray Down Your Boat
The best way to keep the exterior of your boat in good condition (and the interior, depending on the type of boat you have) is to give it a good wash at the start and the end of each season, at the least.
In most cases, all you need is a pressurized water hose, which you can find at big marinas or along the road at truck wash stops.
If you have vinyl seat cushions, give those a good spray-down too. It’s impressive how much gunk can build up on those in storage and during the season.
We recommend doing your cushions first and letting them air-dry while you wash down the rest of your boat. This way they’ll be nice and dry when your family or friends are ready to board.
7. Make Sure You Have Enough Safety Gear
You’re almost ready to get out on the water! Before you head to the boat launch make sure you have enough life-jackets for your family and friends. In Texas, it’s the law that all vessels under 16 feet be equipped with life jackets for each person on board. If you own a boat over 26 feet, children under 13 years of age must wear a life jacket at all times.
You should also have a well-stocked first-aid kit on board, in case any accidents happen. Finally, make sure you have a boat-sized fire extinguisher and a coast guard radio if you’re going to be out of cell-phone range.
8. A Key Floater
If you don’t have an attachment for your boat keys that makes them float, it’s time to get one. Imagine how tragic it could be if somehow the boat keys sank into the water!
You can buy little key-chain sized floats or make your own out of a few wine corks with a string through them.
Go Out and Have Fun!
Now that your boat is ready to go out on the water, it’s time to pick the perfect spot to head out from. Whether you’ll be traveling with your boat or keeping it close to home – don’t leave storage without going through these boat maintenance tips.
They can seem tedious, but they’re the best way to protect your boat and your friends and family. Maintain your boat, and get a boat insurance quote from Kicker Insures Me Agency today.