Covered BoatsUncovering your boat after its winter hibernation is certification that summer has officially arrived. However, before hitching up and heading down to the boat launch, it’s imperative to take some time to de-winterize your vessel.

Safety Gear

Check to make sure that you have enough life jackets on board and that they all are in good shape. Drowning can really put a damper on the whole boating experience, so it’s important that everyone on board always knows where the life jackets are and that anyone uncomfortable with swimming have one on at all times. Don’t forget to check your fire extinguisher on board, as well. If the tag on the extinguisher indicates that it’s time for maintenance, have the can professionally re-charged or replaced.

Legal Stuff

Avoid a totally unnecessary ticket by checking the registration sticker on both your boat and its trailer. If they’re out of date, scour your files for the current stickers, or scurry on down to the department of motor vehicles and pay the registration fees.

Power

Charge or replace the boat’s batteries. Everybody who has ever spent more than ten minutes at a launch has seen somebody get their boat in the water and sit there dumbfounded as the engine turns over, and over, but there’s not enough power to start it. Nobody likes the guy who’s backing up the launch line because his junk doesn’t start. Don’t be that guy. Charge.

Engine

Take the time to fire your boat up before leaving the house to make sure it starts. This, too, will help you avoid being “that guy” in the water.

Hull

Walk around the exterior of the boat to make sure that the hull is in good condition. Keep an eye out for cracks or wear that may have occurred during the winter to avoid the risk of water entering the hull and sinking the boat.

Trailer

A boat trailer does you no good if it breaks down before making it to the lake. Inspect the trailer just as thoroughly as the boat. Replace any worn tires and properly inflate the rest. Next, grease the wheel bearings and inspect the winch and tie downs to make sure that the boat is securely held in place.

Gas

Ideally, gas left over from the previous year should be drained and replaced with fresh fuel.

Toys

If the boat’s ready to go, make sure the toys are in good working order, too.  Inspect the bindings of wake boards and skis before inflating tubes to make sure that they’re still holding air. Because trust me, bouncing around on a nearly flat tube is painful.

After a once over, load up the family and hit the lake. However, don’t hesitate to continue to inspect your boat throughout the summer. Ongoing maintenance and routine checks are the key to avoiding expensive repairs and embarrassing stalls while out making wakes.