A boat is a great way to enjoy the summer. But it’s not easy to get your boat ready for the summer. As the summer nears, it’s time to get your boat ready for the season. Whether you’re looking for a new boat or just want to make sure it’s all ready for when the weather starts getting hot, here are some things you need to do.
Clean up the dock.
Ensure that everything is clear of debris and that any rust has been treated with marine epoxy. If you have an old boat in its original position on the pier or mooring, take care of it by moving it inland if possible. (You don’t have to move it entirely.) This will prevent potential problems down the road from corrosion due to saltwater in the air.
Check the bilge pump.
A watercraft requires two pumps: one to keep it dry, the other to drain standing water. It’s important to check these pumps whenever you go out and see if they work correctly. You may also need to tighten or replace belts or bearings on both systems. This can be done at home or even while underway if needed.
If you find any issues during your annual maintenance, try to repair them before the summer to avoid losing power. For example, if you notice cracks around the windshield mount, stop the engine before you use the boat, inspect the area carefully, and then fix the crack with silicone caulk or another waterproof substance before continuing. This will help ensure the system’s integrity and save you money in the long run.
Contact insurance companies
This should be included in your yearly budget, but many people overlook this step until too late. Even though it may seem like a hassle, purchasing boat insurance will help protect against damage to your investment. If your boat isn’t insured, consider putting it into storage until after the summer. Once you return from the shore-side, contact your insurer right away about how much coverage you need with a quick call, and they’ll tell you whether or not you’re covered. Boat insurance also ensures that your property is protected at all times since it covers all of your belongings, including your trailer. For instance, if there’s ever an issue with your trailer hitch locking mechanism, the carrier pays for the repairs. The longer you wait until you buy insurance, the more expensive it will become.
Make sure you know the rules.
Know the local regulations regarding what type of motorboat is allowed in the lake/river/stream you operate. Also, know the height of the minimum required side rail/bumpers on boats that are less than 20′ length. These items protect smaller users from injury or death and should be enforced by law. Also, know the maximum horsepower allowed for each category of craft. Remember that you cannot have more than one vessel registered for different categories on a single registration number. If your boat needs major overhauling, call a qualified mechanic to perform the work instead of doing it yourself. You could end up damaging something irreparable, losing time, and causing extra expense.
Maintain the equipment.
Be careful when moving the boat from place to place because loose lines, cables, etc., may pose a safety risk. Remember to secure anything connected to the propeller shaft or the transmission. Use gaskets to seal joints and avoid overloading the bilge pump. Before going ashore, make sure that everything that’s been turned off is off.
Have an emergency kit ready.
Your emergency kit should include:
- Flares (common in lakes).
- Fire extinguishers.
- First aid gear.
- A tow rope.
- A cell phone capable of making calls and sending text messages.
Remember to pack food and drinking water if you get stranded somewhere along the way. Ensure that the battery charger is plugged into the wall socket.
Learn basic seamanship.
As already mentioned above, be careful around other boaters, especially children. They sometimes don’t understand the risks involved when playing with older adults who they perceive as “experts.” Don’t let them drive your boat. Never operate under the influence. Do not take chances, and always wear a life jacket while operating your boat. Learning the basics will ensure that you stay within the boundaries of safe boating practices.
Practice safe boating every day.
Even if you feel confident enough to use your boat for recreation during the weekends, practice safe boating techniques every day. Be aware of other vessels, never drive under the influence, remember caution when docking your boat, and always obey safety regulations. Also, learn how to steer properly. It’s easier than it sounds; just concentrate on the center line and think about keeping left or right while turning. There’s no need to turn the wheel very hard or fast.
Consider buying a boat trailer.
Trailer hitches are great accessories to a boat. Many owners prefer trailers since they help prevent damage to the boat’s hull when launching and retrieving it from the water. Trailer hitches also allow you to transport multiple boats conveniently on a single trip. This saves you the trouble of having several vehicles carrying all these boats at once. However, trailer hitches must be used responsibly. Ensure that the vehicle towing the boat has adequate brakes and doesn’t swerve out of control. Pay attention to parking laws.
Boating can provide fun and adventure, but proper preparation and good judgement are vital before venturing out onto the waters. The best advice would probably come from someone who has done this many times before – an experienced boater! So, whether you plan to travel locally or across state lines, keep these tips in the back of your mind.