Spring boat launch checklist
With spring on its way, I’m sure you are all itching to get the covers off, and put the boat back into its natural habitat. We wanted to take the opportunity to give a few tips/ reminders before we take the plunge back into the water, as it's all too easy to get excited, and miss something. Here is a general checklist that we have put together to help get your boat back into the water in tip top shape.
General inspection – it is important to walk/crawl around and through the entire boat to make sure everything is in good working order.
If your tall like I am, then crawling through bilges is one of your least favorite things. Let’s start there so we can stretch our legs afterwards when we inspect the hull.
Engine room/ bilge
Test bilge blower
Test bilge pump and high-water level alarms
Thru hulls- exercise the valves on thru hulls. If they are stiff or frozen then they need to be serviced prior to splash. It is good practice to have wooden plugs tied to each thru hull. This way if a thru hull fails you already have a plug standing by.
Hoses- inspect all hoses leading to thru hulls for leaks or signs of wear. Hoses should be secured with two stainless hose clamps per end. If these hose clamps look rusted, replace them.
Fluids- Change the oil (if not done in fall). oil should be changed every 50 hours of use or once a year. Check all fluid levels, coolant, hydraulics, transmission.
Filters – change air and fuel filters
Belts- inspect belts for tension and wear.
Water pumps- check both raw water, and fresh water pumps for seepage, which could indicate a gasket needs to be replaced. Raw water impellers should be replaced annually.
Batteries- top up lead acid batteries with distilled water if necessary. Make sure batteries have full charge, if charged in fall, check again as they lose charge over time. Clean terminals on battery and connections on cables. Coat terminals in protective layer of grease or battery terminal spray. Make sure terminal connections are tight.
Cables- inspect insulation on wires for any signs of wear, hopefully you won’t find signs of critters who moved in for the winter.
Hydraulics- inspect trim tab cylinders, steering pump and rams for leaks.
Clean that bilge! - a clean bilge is essential to spotting leaks early on.
Spring cleaning- wash away all that winter grunge both inside and out. Give that boat the love it deserves. Carefully inspect the hull as you clean. Look for cracks, bubbles, soft spots, or even ‘chalkiness’ which may indicate oxidization.
Propeller/shaft – inspect the propeller for any obvious signs of damage, dings, pits, and distortion. Check that all cotter pins are in place. Try to move the shaft, if its loose you may need to replace the cutlass bearing.
Anodes – Anodes are designed to deteriorate with time. If they have been reduced to 50% original size, it is time to replace them.
Check navigation lights – tighten any loose connections, and replace blown bulbs.
VHF Antennas – disconnect antennas, spray with water dispersing lubricant, inspect for corrosion at connection, reconnect, and test.
Safety equipment – inspect all safety equipment for wear. Make sure lights (check battery life) and whistle are attached to life jackets. Check expiration dates on flares, fire extinguishers, first aid kit.
Boat plug – if you have a boat plug you certainly want to make sure that it is back in prior to splash!
Outboards and outdrives
Check hydraulic trim fluid, change annually
Check lower-unit lube level. Lower-unit oil should be changed annually. Milky oil usually means that water has been introduced.
Replace outdrive zincs that have deteriorated 50%
Outdrive bellows- inspect rubber bellows for signs of wear. Look in folds for cracks, dry spots, and deterioration.
In the water
Check for leaks – check for leaks near thru hulls, Inspect stuffing box or shaft seal, to make sure water isn’t rushing in.
Test all electronics – GPS, depth sounder etc.. Delay getting underway if something isn't working properly. You should never rely on just one navigational tool.
Paperwork – make sure all of your documents are up to date.
Check your tire pressure, including the spare.
Check tire tread – low tread could result in an accident.
Check lights – replace bulbs if necessary