After a winter of research and anticipation, you finally have purchased your new boat. To ensure that your boat will still be like new after you make that last payment, there are several steps you need to take while that ink dries.
At the very least, the dealer should run the engine at the dealership with a water hookup. Check the following: idle speed, top speed RPMs, fluid leaks at normal operating temperature, and operation of the lights, horn, blower, bilge pump, and engine gauges.
Have a member of the dealer's service staff give you a complete walk around inspection. Look for simple things like the location of the drainplugs.
In the Driveway
Before heading down to the boat ramp, make a pit stop at home. Check the boat over from bow light to swim platform. Make sure you have all the required safety gear – fire extinguisher, flotation devices, etc. – on board.
Check all of the various owner's manuals. They will outline the manufacturer's operating guidelines so you won't do anything that might void an engine, drive or boatbuilder's warranty.
The Unsung Workhorse
Check all of the following components and specifications for your trailer carefully: 1. The max load capacity (GVWR) 2. Fore and aft weight distribution 3. The tongue weight (generally 5 to 10% of the total weight) 4. Operation of the winch 5. The hitch ball and coupler compatibility. 6. Does the trailer ride level 7. Lights and their connections.
Be sure to have the boat properly registered and the registration sticker and numbers in the right place. Also have all the required safety equipment on board.
Boat Meets Water
Before inviting your first guest out we recommend practicing the following: 1. Low speed operations, handling and backing 2. Maneuvering around the dock 3. Running the boat at > speed for the first 10 hours 4. Checking under the hood regularly.
Nuts and Bolts
The first 20 hours of engine operation determine much about the engine's overall oil consumption and longevity. If you don't break in the engine correctly over the first 20 hours of operation, you may promote excessive oil consumption from ring blow-by.
Manufacturer recommendations vary, but here are some of the recommendations Mercury Marine makes for the 20-hour break-in period:
1. Avoid operation below 1500 RPMs for the first 10 hours of use. This keeps engine temperatures normal and promotes proper wear-in and parts seating. 2. Vary the RPMs to wear in the engine through its full range. 3. Limit full throttle operations for the first 10 hours and then only after the engine is warm and for no more than three minutes. 4. Avoid deep-water starts until after the break-in period. 5. Most importantly, make sure the engines oil supply is plentiful. 6. Check the oil dipstick to make sure the oil is clean, not milky looking, and does not smell of fuel.
After 20 hours of operation, head back to the starting point: the dealership. Have the mechanic check the engine and make any necessary adjustments. This is a good time for the first oil change. The oil will be dirtier than normal, due to the wear-in of moving internal parts. Have the mechanic cut open the oil filter to see if there's excessive or abnormal engine wear.
With the break-in and familiarization under your belt, you'll be well in command of your new boat. Your skiing buddies will be impressed both with the new ride and how you handle it like an old pro.