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Springtime Boat, Motor and Trailer Preparation

Spring brings the warm weather and the annual task of preparing your boat for another season of fun filled carefree boating. Some attention and maintenance now could prevent some aggravation and down time during the peak of the season.

The following checklist will serve as a basic guide for performing the annual preparation on an outboard powered boat and trailer.


  • Do a general all around inspection and cleaning of the deck, hull and topside using a mild detergent.
  • Inspect and clear scuppers, garboard drain, other drains and bilge pump discharge.
  • Apply a coat of good quality marine wax.
  • Clean and polish all metal.
  • Clean and inspect canvas, covers and bimini top.
  • Clean and inspect bilges and through hull fittings.
  • Check all fittings secure.
  • Lubricate all hinges, latches, etc with the best
    corrosion inhibiting lubricant you can buy.


  • Check for abrasions, scratches, gouges, etc.,
    and repair them.
  • Check and replace zincs as needed.
  • Check swim platform and ladder.
  • Check transducers, pitot and through hull fittings.


  • Check and lubricate seacocks.
  • Check all hoses and clamps.
  • Check bilge pump and float switch operation.


  • Check battery water level and recharge battery.
  • Check terminals for corrosion, clean and lubricate.
  • Discard wing nuts and use lock nuts and washers
    on terminals.
  • Inspect all wiring for corrosion and insulation
    damage.  Clean, repair or replace.
  • Test gauges and all electrical/electronic equipment
    for proper operation.  Check for spare fuses.
  • Inspect antennas.


  • Sound signaling device such as whistle or horn.
  • Distress signals - hand held flares, smoke, aerial
    flares, etc.  Check expiration dates.
  • Check life jackets and throwable rings, cushions, etc.
  • Check fire extinguishers and recharge/replace if needed.
  • Check first aid kit and replace any used supplies.
  • Check compass and navigation lights.
  • Check onboard toolbox to ensure the tools you may
    need are in it and stay there throughout the season.


  • Change engine fuel filter and filter/ water separator element.
  • Check and change engine zincs.
  • Replace spark plugs.
  • Check plug wires for wear and cracks.
  • Change and fill lower unit gear lube.
  • Inspect fuel lines, primer bulb and connections for leaks.
  • Lubricate and spray all moveable parts.
  • Check prop for dings and bends.
  • Check steering and control cables or power steering system and fluid.
  • Check power trim and tilt system and fluid.
  • Add a quality fuel stabilizer to the fuel tank.


  • Pull wheels and inspect /repair brakes. Clean and
    inspect or replace wheel bearings.
    Repack bearings and hubs.
  • Check rollers and pads.
  • Clean, inspect and lubricate winch.
  • Lubricate tongue jack and wheel.
  • Test and repair all running lights.
  • Check tires, check pressure and condition.
  • Check safety chains and coupler condition.

It certainly can take some time -- and lots of elbow grease to keep your boat, motor and trailer in top operating condition.  But, it will keep you on your way to a safe, and hopefully, hassle-free boating season.  See you on the water!

Winterize Your Boat Now To Minimize Problems In The Spring

Now is the time to winterize your boat for the period of inactivity between now and next spring. The following list of items is intended as a basic guide to protect your boat from sitting idle during the cold, wet winter months.


  • Completely wash and wax your boat, hull, deck, both inside and out.
  • Remove all cushions, bolsters and other fabric type items if they can be removed. Store in garage. If not removable, wash and dry surfaces, leave a chemical dehumidifier or mildew inhibitor under the cover when stored.
  • Remove your batteries and store in an area not subject to freezing. Leave batteries on a trickle charger. Clean battery posts and cable lugs and coat with a light coating of grease.
  • Lubricate all Hatch/locker door hinges and latches. Leave doors open.
  • Remove all drain plugs so any possible water accumulation will drain out.
  • Remove all electronics and store in secure area.
  • Cover boat with a cover that allows good ventilation and adjust to shed water/snow.
  •  Fuel System

  • Completely fill built-in fuel tanks and add a good fuel stabilizer such as "Store-n Start" or "Stabil". Run engine for 15 minutes in water or with a flushing attachment to fill fuel lines and carburetors with treated fuel.
  • After adding stabilizer to portable tanks, run engine as above. Then remove portable fuel tanks from boat and drain fuel (Put fuel in car, lawn mower, snowblower, etc)
  • Remove and replace all fuel filters.
  • Check all fuel hoses and connectors, replace if worn or leaking.
    • Outboard Engine (Check owners manual for specific procedures and requirements)

  • Fog Engine with a Fogging oil per manufacturers directions. This is usually accomplished by spraying in the carburetors while running and also by removing the spark plugs and spraying directly into the cylinders.
  • Spray all surfaces under motor cover with a lubricant such as WD-40 or Corrosion Block, to prevent rust and corrosion.
  • Install new spark plugs.
  • Visually inspect all hardware, linkages and cables and replace/tighten if required.
  • Apply grease to all grease fittings.
  • Replace gear case lubricant.
  • Lubricate and add fluids to power steering, and tilt and trim and trim tab units.
  • Store motor in the down "run" position. Wash and wax exterior surfaces.
    • Trailer

  • Repack wheel bearings
  • Inspect and lubricate hitch coupler, rollers, tongue jack and winch.
  • Inspect and repair lights.
  • Inspect bunks 

Remember the whole purpose of winterizing your boat is to eliminate or minimize problems found in the Spring which may delay the use of your boat or cost you money. Make a habit of checking twice a month to see that the cover is in place and that no water is accumulating, etc.

Each year that you own a boat you will probably be able to add to this list, items which you find need special attention during winterizing. 

Hurricane Season - Planning Ahead For Your Boat Is Essential!
You may have to prepare your boat for Hurricane season. If you own a boat, the time to prepare for hurricanes and storms is well in advance. Boats have always been vulnerable in a hurricane due to wind, wave action, storm surge, rain and collisions with other objects.

If you own a boat you should develop a plan for preparing for a storm. First review your docking, moorage or storage contract for instructions that may require you to take certain precautions or even leave the marina when a hurricane threatens.

Planning where your boat will best survive a storm and for all the steps and equipment needed to protect your boat should be completed before hurricane season begins. Don’t wait until the last minute!

Securing your boat ashore will better the chances for your boat to survive than if stored in the water. Many marina hurricane plans involve hauling as many boats as possible. Smaller boats and those with low freeboard should be hauled and stored ashore or put on trailers and transported inland. Boats stored in dry storage racks have shown to be susceptible to damage and should be placed on trailers and moved inland also.

If you have no other choice but to leave your boat in the water, it should be secured in a snug harbor. A harbor that is not overcrowded and with as much protection from storm surge and wave action is highly desirable. In addition if you plan on anchoring, check to see how much water you will be anchoring in and the type of bottom. Anchors usually hold best in sand.

Another choice would be to take shelter in rivers, canals or other waterways. Again try to pick an area which is not overcrowded and offers shelter from the forces of the storm. Your mooring could and should be made up of an assortment of anchors and lines tied to trees, pilings or other structures. The more correctly applied anchors and lines the better.

If your boat is left at a dock you will need to develop a plan to secure your boat using more, longer and larger lines than normal. These lines will actually suspend your boat away from damaging contact with other structures. Secure your dock lines to sturdy points, pilings cleats, etc., and protect lines from chafing with chafe gear at points of contact. The lines will resemble a spider web with your boat in the center when done. Care must be taken to make sure that the boat is allowed to rise and fall with the storm surge and be buffeted by the wind but still remain in its berth.

Boats left on lifts and davits are also susceptible to damage. Even raised to their highest point, boats on lifts and davits can be damaged by storm surge, rain and wind. Always remember to remove the drain plug to allow the rainwater to drain and not collapse the lift or davits with the added weight. Note: with the drain plug removed the rising storm surge will fill the boat with water. Water damage will occur but it will probably suffer less structural damage than if it were left floating and buffeted against a lift or davits.

If your boat is a trailer boat the best protection is to move it inland and away from the storms path. Always check your trailer and keep it properly maintained so if and when you need to move because of an oncoming storm, you can. If you plan to leave your boat in an area, which may be hit by the storm, there are some things, which you can do. Let air out of trailer tires and chock the wheels to prevent the trailer from being moved by the wind. Leave the drain plug in and add water with a garden hose to increase its weight so the boat will stay on the trailer. (Note: Add blocks of wood between the springs and trailer frame to prevent collapse.) If available, also secure trailer to any structure which will restrain it from moving, such as a large trees or ground anchors.

Wherever you keep your boat during the storm, always remember that its best chance to survive was planned and that plan carried out well before the storm approached.



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