The weather’s warmer, the days are longer, and
naturally, your thoughts turn more and more to your boat. It’s been covered up,
waiting on its trailer, all winter. Now you’ve decided to get it ready for
summer adventures.
Check the air pressure in the trailer’s tires. The maximum pressure is printed
on the sidewalls of the tires, and trailer tires often take higher pressure
than the tires on a car or truck.
Be sure the trailer’s safety chains or cables are in good condition, and that
they will securely attach to the rear of the tow vehicle. There should be two
chains or cables, one on each side of the hitch, and they should be long enough
to allow the trailer to turn tight corners, but not so long that they drag on
the pavement.
The Boat
Your boat’s battery should be connected to a charger for a day or so before
it’s returned to the boat. Once the winter storage cover has been removed, the
battery can be connected and secured in its acid-resistant container. Be sure
that terminals and cable ends are clean and that polarity is correct before
connecting. Inspect the propeller for any signs of damage, and have it
serviced, if necessary, before installing it. Replace any sacrificial zincs as
the manufacturer recommends. If it’s an outboard or inboard/outboard, and the
fluid in the lower unit wasn’t replaced last fall, it’s likely a good idea to
do it now. When draining the fluid, look for any sign of cloudiness, which
indicates water in the fluid. If the fluid is contaminated with water, it
usually means a seal or gasket is leaking, and the unit must be repaired.
Bearing damage can be the expensive result of water leaking into the unit’s
If the boat has a two-stroke outboard motor, hook a hose to the motor’s
flushing attachment, and start it up on the trailer to make sure it’s working
properly. If it’s an inboard engine, check the bilge blower for proper
operation, and be sure the blower’s intake hose is correctly positioned —
below the engine, and above the normal bilge water level. Operate the steering
lock-to-lock to see if it’s operating properly. If you changed the oil in your
inboard engine or four-stroke outboard last fall, it’s a good idea to change it
again in the spring, to get rid of any moisture that collected due to
condensation during the winter months. You’ll have a chance to check for proper
exhaust water flow and battery charging while you warm the engine up for its
oil change.
Now that the servicing is done, it’s time for the spring cleaning. This should
be the most thorough cleaning the boat will get all year. Keep a “punch list”
of items you find that need attention while you’re cleaning, so you can take
care of them before the first launch. Once everything’s been serviced and
cleaned, you can bring your gear aboard. The safety equipment should be
inspected to be sure life jackets, flares, anchor, fire extinguisher, and
electronics are ready to go. Don’t forget the drain plug!
The Details
Remember to be sure your registration tags are current on your boat, trailer,
and tow vehicle. Also, make sure your insurance is up to date. Be sure to put
your insurance company’s claims phone number in your wallet, just in case.
The Launch
You got as good a look at your trailer as you could before the first trip. You
made sure the winch cable and tie-downs were in good condition and that they
were tight enough.
Be sure to take some tools and rust-proofing paint to the launch site. Then,
spend a few minutes looking at the parts of your trailer that you couldn’t see
before the boat was launched. Scrape loose paint and scale from any rusty areas
you find, and touch them up with paint. Make sure all the rollers turn easily,
and the bunks and bunk covering are in good shape.
The first launch of the season will go smoothly, and everything on the boat
will be ready to go, when you do what’s needed to give yourself and your family
a trouble-free boating season.


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