If you’re a boater living somewhere that experiences a long, painful winter, you know how important it is to get the most out of boating season. Although you aren’t able to enjoy a long day out on the water, the winter months can be the perfect time for boat maintenance to get things ready for opening day!
From cosmetic details to mechanical maintenance and more, there’s always something you could be doing to get your boat ready for spring. In this article, I’ll lay out a few projects you can work on throughout the winter that will save you valuable time come late-April when the ramps open up.
Due to exposure to water and sunlight, keeping your boat’s exterior in pristine condition is no easy task. While there are a number of methods for getting the perfect shine, it’s crucial that you buff and wax at least once (preferably twice) per year to maintain your boat’s gelcoat.
Oxidation, the cloudy, chalky buildup that occurs due to exposure to sun and water, can make any boat look old and unattractive. Avoiding this unfortunate process is as simple as regular maintenance. If you’ve never done it before, you’ll want to make sure you have everything you need:
Water and electronics don’t always get along. Neither does a beautiful day on the lake and a stereo system that isn’t working properly. Get out ahead of any potential issues by doing a thorough check of all your electronics while you’re confined to dry land.
Step one of making sure everything is prepared for the upcoming season starts with the battery. Plenty of inexpensive battery tenders are available that you should be utilizing in the winter (and all throughout the year) to make sure your source of power is in good condition.
Step two, after hooking up the battery to the boat, is to flip all lights to make sure they’re working properly. Boating after dark is a great time but can become dangerous quickly if you’re unable to be seen by others out on the water.
In addition to checking the lights on your vessel, do a quick run-through of your trailer’s lights as well. Not only are brake lights and turn signals required by law, but they’re also crucial for safety when traveling.
Finally, make sure your blower and bilge pumps are in working order. A broken blower prevents you from being able to dispel potentially harmful gases from your engine, and I don’t need to explain the danger of a faulty bilge pump. This component of winter boat maintenance can save you a lot of trouble on the water.
All boaters are required to have a kit of safety equipment on board. It can vary slightly based on where you live, but all of the following are good, if not legally required, to have onboard:
Not only are all of these pieces of equipment potentially life-saving, but they’ll also save you some money should you be inspected by a patrol boat. Most items on this list are inexpensive, and are worth it for the peace of mind.
If we’re being honest, doing paperwork is probably the exact opposite of a day on the lake. However, it’s a necessary evil to maintain legality and protection. Here’s a list of everything you should have in order prior to opening day:
Once you have all of the above winter boat maintenance requirements taken care of, you’re ready to hit the lake! As a side note, it’s a good idea to keep copies of everything as keeping documentation in your car, boat, and home is advised.
Spring fever takes on a new meaning when you’re waiting to get the boat out of storage for the winter. Complete everything on this winter boat maintenance checklist and you won’t have to waste any time when opening day arrives!