With spring in full swing, it’s that time of year when boaters in cold weather states bring their boats out of dry dock or out on the water for the first in a long time. There’s nothing that can ruin your spirits faster than being unprepared when you’re ready to hit the water. Keeping a checklist and following it each year is a good way to stay on top of what needs to get done. Here are some things not to forget when prepping your boat for spring.


Make sure you have the proper paperwork for boating or fishing on the waters in your rea. Double check local regulations and make sure you have a current boat registration, fishing license, trailer tags and proof of insurance.

Life jackets

Double check you have the right number of life jackets on board for each individual that plans to be on your boat. If there are children coming along, make sure you have smaller-sized vests. Check to be sure they are in good working order without missing straps or buckles and clean of mildew.

Replace your fire extinguisher

Even if you don’t think you have to, it’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to putting out a potentially life threatening fire. Replace all fire extinguishers on the boat before you head out.

Carry a first-aid kit

It’s always a good idea to keep a first-aid kit on board, which in actually might have been sitting down there for years. Before going out for the first time this season check to be sure the kit is still well stocked and the items have not decayed in any way.

Flare kit

Check that your flares are current. Most flares will continue to work beyond their expiration date, but it’s another one of those “better safe than sorry” situations. So go ahead and replace any expired flares.

Structural and electrical soundness

Before putting your boat in the water, survey the outside of the boat, manipulate any mechanical parts and be sure any electronics and lighting work properly. Check the batteries, lines and anchor rode. Be sure the drain plug is in. It sounds obvious, but almost every boater knows someone who forgot to put the drain plug back in and launched their boat only to be overcome by water.

Checking the motor

The motor is the most important part of the boat for obvious reasons. A broke down engine is the best way to ruin your day on the water. Engines don’t like sitting all winter, which is why checking the fluids and searching for any leaks is imperative.

That should get you started in creating an annual check list that you can adapt for your personal needs from there.

Photo credit: Flickr Creative Commons