Getting your boat ready for the water

Getting your boat ready for the water
Do you want to operate your boat safely and effectively this year?  You need some preparation for the upcoming season.  It is not difficult, but necessary.  It might even save money in the long run.
Just because a boat sits idle all winter does not mean that nothing happens to it.  Moisture collects, fuel can oxidize in the motor, and trailer wheel bearings can rust.
One can take the boat to a marine dealer and have it brought up to snuff.  The owner with the time can do many things himself. Some of those things can trim boating costs.
Be sure the engine is properly tuned, and keep it that way during the boating season.  A well tuned engine burns less gas.  Proper maintenance extends the life of the engine more than making up for the cost of regular check up with the dealer.
To run properly, the engine must use the right fuel.  A lower grade gas may foul plugs and decrease performance.  It also will use more fuel and increase operating costs.
Cold weather has been hard on some of the boat components.  Check items such as ropes, motors, electrical equipment, etc.  Repair or replaced if necessary.  If done correctly, your boat will provide you with many hours of carefree enjoyment this summer.
The first item is to check the steering system.  Look for anything that prevents freedom of movement.  Check the steering cables of wear, rust, kinks and bends.
In checking the electrical system, it is important to make sure the battery is charged.  Replace the battery if fails to hold a charge.  Next inspect the entire electrical system for frayed wires.  Make sure the insulation of all lines and connections are secure.
Examine the trailer wiring for loose connections.  Clean and lubricate the bulb receptacles.
Next check the hull for any apparent damage or deterioration.  Make any necessary repairs immediately.  Check both the interior and exterior.  This is particularly true if the hull contains wood.  Cleaning the hull is also important for reducing fuel consumption.
A clean hull will move through the water easier as well as handle better.
Do not under power a boat in the interest of fuel conservation.  All craft are rated for maximum horsepower and it is important to make sure you have enough motor to handle the load.  Underpowered boats struggle to get on plane and require higher throttle settings to move the craft across the water.  The result is poor fuel economy and an overworked engine.
Speaking of performance be sure to check the propeller.  If the boat is slow getting out of the hole or lacks top end speed, the prop may be damaged or is the wrong one in the first place.  The prop diameter and the angle of the blades (called pitch) can make a big difference in speed and fuel economy.  Consult with your dealer for the right prop for you engine and its use.
Local laws in every state require certain emergency tools.  Check local regulations and make sure you are in compliance.  Check, clean and properly store Personal Floatation Devices (PFD’s).  There must be one for each passenger in the boat.  The fire extinguisher should be checked to make sure it is properly charged and in working order.  Navigation lights and signal devices should be in working order and properly installed or stored on the boat.
A few hours and a few dollars spent prior to putting the boat in the water can avoid frustration on the water.  More importantly, it can mean the prevention of death or injury to a loved one.
Do not stop there.  It is a good idea to check the wheel bearings of the boat trailer for rust and wear.  If necessary, repack them.  Check the light sockets, clean and lubricate if necessary.  Check and clean all electrical connections.
Turning to the tires, it is a good idea to check for wear.  Replace any ties that show severe use.  It is better to do that now rather than later during a trip to that favorite lake.  If necessary, have them balanced.
Look for rusted areas on the trailer.  Now is a good time to clean them up and repaint.  Check the trailer wench and replace the strap if severely worn.  Lubricate the wench.
It is difficult to begin a fishing season with these maintenance tasks.  Following these few steps now will ensure that when you take your boat to that favorite fishing hole, the trip will not be marred with time spent doing repairs when you should be fishing.
The Chicago Boat Show is behind us but this upcoming weekend we can see many boats and boating products at the Chicago Fishing, Travel and Outdoor Expo at the Schaumburg Convention Center. For more details visit CLICK HERE.
After that, why not take a trip down south to the Southern Illinois Boat & Fishing Show.  Its another great show held February 1-3 at The Pavilion in Marion, Illinois.  It is located at 1602 Sioux Drive just north of the Illinois Star Centre Mall.  Admission and parking are free.   Information about this show and accommodations is available from Williamson County Tourism Bureau at 1-800-GEESE-99 or on line at or email them at

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