Get your boat as primed and ready for the ski season as you are.
You have been thinking, or should I say dreaming, about the upcoming ski season all winter long and spring fever is in full swing. To ensure your season is not marred by boat issues, make sure to properly de-winterize your boat and perform some preventive maintenance before getting back on the water. A little bit of time and effort spent now on your boat will help reduce the cussing and fussing that can occur when faced with a broken boat in the middle of the lake. Because, let's face it — we've all been there at least once.
- Ensure the fire extinguisher is full
- Check that the bilge blower and pump is working properly
- Check that the signaling device (horn) works
- Check navigation lights
- Check first-aid supplies and replace what is necessary
- Inspect all life jackets
- Reinstall any engine-cooling drain plugs that were removed and don't forget (if equipped) the drain plug on the transmission cooler and the water pump
- Clean the flame arrestor
- Replace fuel filter/water separator
- Check engine oil and transmission fluid (these should be replaced at 50- and 100-hour intervals, respectively)
- Check all belts for wear and proper tension; adjust if necessary to prevent slippage and wear
- Check all hoses and clamps
- Check plug wires for wear
- Record engine hours
- Inspect or replace the water pump impeller (at a minimum, it should be replaced every other year; preventative maintenance is cheap insurance)
- Check water in the battery for proper level
- Clean battery terminals and coat them with battery terminal protectant
- Fully charge the battery
- Check all gauges for operability
- Make sure all electrical components are functioning
- Check overall condition of tires and inflate to correct pressure
- Check trailer lights
- Check wheel bearings and repack or replace, if necessary
- If equipped with trailer breaks, ensure they are functioning properly
Other Important Items
- Inspect prop and if there is any visible damage, send it off to be repaired and balanced (even a small ding in your prop can affect its performance and cause vibration problems)
- If your boat has packing, prepare to tighten it on your first trip — the boat has to be in the water with the prop shaft rotating (for safety reasons, be careful around the rotating shaft); adjust the packing so that it is only dripping a few drops per minute
After performing all these checks, hook up an outside water supply source to the water intake. Crank the engine to ensure it performs properly and check fuel lines, filters and the carburetor for leaks.
This checklist is not all-encompassing and each boat may vary as to what needs to be done to de-winterize it. For further instructions, refer to your boat's owners manual.
Note: Read Bubba Beck's past article from the May 2007 issue on trailer maintenance for additional details.
Have additional questions or comments? Contact Bubba Beck at firstname.lastname@example.org.