If you can smell the spring air, and a 60 degree day feels more like 80 after the long winter, you might also be itching to get your boat out of storage and get started on the Michigan boating season. Before you head out for some Lake Michigan boating or hitting a Northern Michigan inland lake, there are things you need to know about getting your boat ready for the season ahead.
“As important as it is to put your boat into storage safely for winter, it’s just as important to check your boat come spring before your take it out for the first ride of the season,” says Dan Gordon, Foremost Insurance Marine Product Manager.
Foremost Insurance offers a spring boating checklist to help make sure your first launch of the season is a successful one.
Clean and inspect. After you remove the boat cover or tarp, take time to wipe-down, vacuum, power wash and, while you’re at it, wax your hull. While you’re giving your boat a good cleaning, check for cracks or damage.
Check the battery. Wipe terminals clean if they are corroded and check the strength with a battery tester. If it’s not charged, it might be time to purchase a new one.
Engine check. Install new spark plugs, lubricate connections, grease the propeller shaft, reconnect fuel lines and check all hoses.
Fill-er up. Fill up the cooling system, top off the gas tank, change the fuel filter, change the oil and the oil filer.
Start your engine. If you can, test your engine at home by placing the prop in a bucket of water or spraying it with a garden hose. It’s normal for the engine to smoke when you start it for the first time. When the engine is running, check for leaks from the cooling system and make sure the discharge stream is spitting out in a straight line.
Check your gear. When you’re putting equipment back in your boat, inspect your equipment to make sure it’s in good shape, is not expired and is in working condition. This includes things like life preservers, first-aid kits, fire extinguishers, flares, ropes and electronics.
Don’t forget the trailer. Look for wear and tear, cracks or bends. Check lights and signals to make sure they’re working. Make sure straps are in good shape, with no fraying and the coupler and latch is tight.
At launch. Pay attention to the bilge and make sure there are no leaks. Make sure the water intake mechanism is working properly and the engine is shifting smoothly.
Are you covered? Check with your insurance agent to make sure you have proper coverage. Ask them about the differences between Agreed Value and Actual Cash Value and be sure to know what your coverages will mean should you have a claim.
De-winterizing your boat takes some time and extra care, but the time you spend up front can save you problems from occurring later in the boating season. Have a great season on the water!