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Springtime Boating:
Pulling Your Boat Out of Storage

Pulling Your Boat Out of Winter Storage

That sound you hear is ice cracking, snow melting and the Northern Hemisphere warming up for spring. Can boating season be far behind? If you hauled out last fall, here are some tips to make sure you can re-float your boat when you pull it out of storage.

Did you properly winterize your boat before you stored it? Great! However, there are still a few things you'll need to take care of to reverse the process. If you just towed your boat to the mini storage facility without prepping it first, you're in for some serious maintenance.

Overwhelmed? Break it into smaller tasks to make the process easier.

The Boat

The experts at Wholesale Marine recommend you start with a thorough cleaning. Even if you cleaned your boat before you stored it, it's been sitting in a self storage facility all winter. There's bound to be some dust and dirt, especially if you stored your boat in the facility's yard. So wipe down the interior, run the vacuum and power-wash the bottom. Repair any dings, dents, scratches and gouges. Apply a good coat of wax to protect the surface from UV damage. If you use bottom paint, this is a good time to apply a fresh coat to keep slime and barnacles from damaging your hull.

Wood boats demand extra TLC. Basic Boat Care and Maintenance, published by TakeMeFishing.org, says to check carefully for possible damage and rot. Pay special attention along the waterline, in the transom and under decks that might have retained moisture.

BoatSafe.com's Pre-Season Checklist includes these basic tasks:

  • Clean and polish all bright work
  • Replace hull zincs
  • Clean and grease winches, lubricate the anchor windlass
  • Clean canvas, bimini and dodger
  • Check rudder, fittings, stanchion, pulpits and lifelines for wear
  • Inspect and test trim tabs
  • Go below deck and check hoses and lamps

Engine and Electrical Components

Justin Hoffman, writing for Bass Pro, offers these tips to de-winterize your boat's engine:

  • Install fresh spark plugs
  • If you didn't change lower gear case oil last fall, do it now
  • Check all other fluid levels
  • Lubricate all moving connection
  • Reconnect fuel lines (and tighten or replace hose clamps if needed)

If you disconnected any electronics, now is the time to reconnect them and test each item before you launch. Don't forget to take a look at your oil, fuel and air filters, and replace them if needed.

Don't forget to check safety equipment including signaling devices, fire extinguishers, hand pumps, first aid supplies and life preservers.

The Spring Start-Up Checklist at DiscoverBoating.com offers this advice for pre-season boat preparation:

  • Inspect your fuel system for leaks. Soft, brittle or cracking indicates damaged hoses that need to be replaced.
  • Charge your battery and test it to make sure it can still hold a charge.
  • Inspect your propeller for damage that can cause unwanted vibration and harm your drive train. Make sure the propeller is secured and replace the bearings if needed.
  • Check belts and cables for wear. Black residue near the pulley could indicate a worn or loose belt. Cracking and swelling on control cable covering requires immediate attention.

Be sure that you test your engine before you launch. Do this in an open, well-ventilated area (definitely NOT inside your mini storage unit).

Safety Equipment

Don't overlook this important part of boating. Foremost Insurance recommends that you make sure essential safety equipment is in good working condition and that time-sensitive components haven't expired. This can include first aid kits, flares, fire extinguishers and life preservers.

Trailer

You don't want to sink your boating season before you even reach the water, so before you take your boat out of self storage and on the road, give your trailer a thorough inspection. Wholesale Marine 's seven-point checklist will make short work of this essential task.

  1. Make sure the rollers or bunks on your trailer are in good working condition.
  2. Hook up and test your trailer's turn signals and brake lights.
  3. Check the winch straps and chains for wear. You don't want to lose your boat in tow.
  4. Check your winch and lubricate it if the movement is stiff or jerky.
  5. Make sure the latch on your coupler is working properly.
  6. Repack your bearings with grease.
  7. Finally, be sure your registration is current. Getting a citation on the way to opening day is a big buzz kill.

Okay, you're good to go, matey. Enjoy the water and have a great, safe boating season.

"How To: Wake Up Your Boat From Hibernation: Tips for Northern Michigan Boaters" Kolzow, ReneeCarTalk.com http://www.mynorth.com/My-North/June-2010/How-To-Wake-Your-Boat-From-Hibernation-mdashTips-For-Northern-Michigan-Boaters/