Spring is rapidly approaching, and many of us are chomping at the bit to get our boats back in the water. Each day that passes it gets a little warmer, and the anticipation grows. With splash day right around the corner, what can you do to make sure your boat is ready to go in as soon as possible?
Spring cleaning has been a term surrounding us since we were young, and as far as boats go this phrase definitely applies. Detailing your boat before it goes into the water is a very crucial aspect of starting your season that many people overlook. In doing so you are not only adding a coat of wax that makes your boat shine and keep dirt out, but also sets a standard for a “clean boat”. If you start your season with your boat being the cleanest it possibly can, you will be able to keep your boat cleaner throughout the season. Realistically, when you return from a day on the water and begin cleaning your boat you are attempting to get the boat as clean as it was before you left. So in theory, if you take the time (or spend the money) to get your boat properly detailed at the beginning of the season you will be able to set that standard for yourself and keep your boat much cleaner. Detailing is always going to be the easiest if the boat is as close to empty as possible, meaning all compartments, cabinets, tables, and coolers/refrigerators have nothing in them that you would have to work around or move. This not only helps with saving time but also allows you to hit every surface with the correct product to ensure the boat’s cleanliness is at its peak potential. Using the right product for all of the different surfaces on your boat is also a very crucial part in detailing. Educating yourself on the different products you use on your boat is essential. Using the wrong products on certain surfaces can damage them enough to have to be replaced. Spending the little bit of extra time and money to clean each surface with a cleaner specifically designed for it will go a long way in regards to keeping your boat looking as good as the day you bought it.
Another Important step in your spring prep is bottom paint. This part of the spring prep work is something many under appreciate, and if done improperly or not at all can have negative effects on your boat’s performance. Now there is the exception that if you trailer your boat or keep it on a lift, bottom paint is not necessary. But if your boat is going to be docked in the water for any extended period of time bottom paint is essential. There is a great range of marine paint to choose from, all ranging in price from 100 to over 300 dollars. You should choose the kind of paint you use depending on a few factors which include the type of hull your boat has, how often you use your boat, how fast you usually run your boat, and what region you are keeping your boat in. After choosing a paint, there are a number of things that can be done before you start painting to help the process go as quickly and smoothly as possible. Proper attire is something that will help you keep the paint off of your skin, because once it’s on there it is by no means easy to get off. A painters suit, goggles, and gloves provide head to toe coverage to ensure you aren’t left scrubbing blotches of paint off of yourself for the next week. Another essential tool is paint thinner. Adding thinner to your paint is very important, but you need to add it cautiously because too much will make the paint too watery to use. Thinning the paint helps you not only cover more area with less paint but also helps eliminate clumping which can make for a very sloppy job. Painters tape will also be needed for the water line. This gives you a cushion to make mistakes when getting close to the water line, along with helping you achieve a nice even line around the entire boat. It is also very crucial to paint on the right day. You always want to paint on a day that is warm, high sun, and no rain in the forecast that night and at least most of the next day. This is important to make sure the paint dries evenly and doesn’t bead due to rain or a lot of moisture in the air.
One of the most important steps in preparing a boat to go in the water is checking all of the mechanical aspects of the motor(s). Catching one small issue before the boat goes in can end up saving you potentially a lot of time out of commission and more importantly a lot of money. Knowing the components of the power that moves your boat is very important not only for your preseason check but in case of an emergency on the water. Quick thinking can oftentimes mean the difference between a minor inconvenience and disaster, so knowing the ins and outs of your engine(s) is something everyone should know. Checking your belts for fraying, oil, fuel filters, and spark plugs are among just a few of the mechanical components you should be checking every spring. When researching what to look for and be aware of, be sure to stay within the boundaries of the specific type of power you have. The process is clearly going to be different for a 700 horsepower inboard diesel motor than a 150 horsepower outboard gas motor, and learning all of this will make your prep faster and more efficient.
There are a lot of small things you can do as well to save you time and possibly money down the road. Checking to ensure all of your Coast Guard required safety equipment is up to date and on your boat is always a good thing to do before your boat is in the water. Not only does it give you more peace of mind on the water it is something that can easily get forgotten about in the rush of the season, and if the Coast Guard was to do a check on the water you could get fined as a result of lacking the proper equipment. Testing your bilge pump(s) before your boat goes in is another small often overlooked step. Replacing them is quick and easy (if you have good access) which in turn will save you from having to possibly lose time on the water to replace it. Clearing your shaft(s) and/or prop(s) of all barnacles and other microorganisms will also help keep your boat’s speed and fuel burn numbers at their best. Taking fine grit sandpaper and wearing all of last year’s growth away is all that’s needed. You can also do this on any strainers you may have under the waterline. This keeps the openings clean preventing the strainer from possibly getting clogged from build up. Plugging in your boat to let the battery build its charge is essential as well. Since the battery loses a considerable amount of charge sitting dormant for most of the winter sometimes batteries won’t have enough charge to start the boat or run certain electronics. Always check the battery terminals for corrosion build up as well. Inspecting the electrical wiring throughout your boat is a must. Any wiring with fraying or exposed interior should be replaced. This helps keep the electrical aspects of the boat reliable on the water along with preventing a possible fire hazard.
Spring is definitely one of the most exciting times of the year for a boater. The anticipation of waiting all winter is finally over and the time has come to get back out on the water. Despite this it is a must to stay focused and not overlook any aspects of getting your boat ready to go in the water. Taking the time to prepare your boat properly is going to prevent headaches throughout your season and give you the most peace of mind while out on the water, giving you the ability to have a great season.