Small Boat Spring Checklist
Kevin Felts 01.25.17
The boat has been put up all winter. Before you jump in the boat this spring and head out to the lake or river, take a couple of hours and go over your boat with a fine toothed comb.
Why not just gas the boat up and head out? Everything will be okay.
Let’s play it safe and make sure everything is in working order.
I would like to share what I am checking before I head out to the Angelina River near Jasper Texas. My boat is a 14 foot Weldbilt with a 30 horsepower Evinrude outboard engine and two seven gallon fuel tanks.
The battery has not been charged in a little over a year. During the summer of 2016 I did not take the boat out a single time. So the first thing I did was to put the battery on a trickle charge. While the battery is taking a slow charge, I can go over the rest of the boat.
As the battery is charging, wires were disconnected from the battery, then all the connections were polished with a wire brush.
This includes wires going to the:
- Trolling motor.
I started at the battery and then worked my way to each item on the list. Look for broken wires, wires chewed by rodents, dry-rot, loose connections… etc.
Last time I used the boat, the starter button was acting up. Checked it with a volt meter and the button has stopped working. Now I have to make a trip to town to get a new starter button. Better to find out now than at the boat launch.
Upon inspection I found some wires were dry rotted and will have to be replaced.
Check fuels lines for signs of wear or dry rot.
Appropriate sized Personal Flotation Devices (PFD), also called a life jacket, for each person. Check PFDs for wear, broken buckles and dry rot. All PFDs onboard that are required by law?
Is fire extinguisher inspection date expired and is it charged?
Do you keep a tool kit on board? How about a first aid kit or flare gun?
Do the bow and stern lights work?
Go over all of it.
How do the tires look? Did you check the pressure in the tires?
Straps that hold the boat to the trailer, how do they look?
Safety chains that go from the trailer to the truck, are they in working order?
Some trailers have a strap or chain that goes from the trailer to the bow, is it in working order?
Some trailers have bearing buddies installed. These allow the wheel bearings to be greased without removing the tires. Have you greased the wheels lately?
Lights on the trailer working?
Trailer tags up to date?
One of the main issues is using fuel that has been sitting in the tank for a year.
Another problem is a fuel line connection losing its seal so the engine can not suck fuel from the tank. Or the fuel line will split.
I carry a spare bulb and connections in my boat repair kit.
It boils down to how much do you value your families safety? Are your wife and children worth a few hours of your time?
Take the time to do a thorough vessel inspection before you head out.