Springtime is here! The weather is beautiful, the water is inviting, and your boat is looking better now than when you first laid eyes on it. The only thing that would make your marine beauty even better is a gorgeous body of water underneath it. But not so fast…
Before you take your watercraft out on the water, complete the actions on this de-winterizing checklist-created for you by Foremost® Insurance.*
Check engine and fluid levels.
To keep your boat running smoothly, remember to check engine and fluid levels. This includes engine oil, oil filters, power steering, coolant, and transmission fluid. If you didn’t change your engine oil, oil filter, and drive lubricants before winter, you can do this now. For everything else, check for any leaks and repair the source first. Once this is addressed, refill the fluids.
Inspect your battery.
If your vessel has been idle for a long period of time, it’s likely the battery is dead and will need to be recharged. Additionally, the water in the battery can freeze in the winter. When this happens, the water can expand and cause cracks in the battery creating irreversible damage. If there are no issues here, ensure that your battery is filled with the proper amount of water. Be certain to use distilled water and not tap water, which can diminish performance. Next, check for any corrosion and clean the battery with a mix of baking soda/distilled water. If you discover your battery is damaged beyond repair, replace it.
Examine the boat’s exterior.
When checking the exterior of your seagoing machine, look closely for any cracks and holes. Check all around the hull and underneath it. If you notice any damage, repair them immediately. Always remember: “boats don’t sink because of water around them, boats sink because of water that gets into them.”
Check the belts.
Lack of use during winter can cause belts to crack and break. This happens because of the stress and tension placed on the belts. If any belts are cracked, replace them. You will also need to replace your belt if it’s loose or if you notice black soot around the pulley.
Examine fuel lines.
The cold winter weather can cause damage to your watercraft’s fuel line. Damage to your fuel line can stop fuel from reaching the engine, and your boat won’t run. Be sure to check this when you pull your watercraft out in the spring. Pay close attention to your fuel hoses and replace them if you see any leaks. Replace any section of your fuel system that show any leaks, cracks, or structural damage.
Inspect the sails (if applicable).
Winter weather can cause considerable damage to your sails. Take note of the shape of your sails. If your sails don’t maintain proper form, you could have issues when boating in strong wind. Lookout for wear, chafing, and other structural damage. Inspect your bolt rope and replace it if it is fraying or weak. If your sails are damaged, replace them.
It is important that you perform each action in this checklist with as much attention to detail as possible. Properly de-winterizing your watercraft is crucial to your performance and safety out on the water.
*Please note: You should also follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for any other maintenance requirements not mentioned in this article.