Getting the boat ready for
the season is a lot like getting the boat ready to sell. You want it to look good and operate without
any problems. That means you need to do a little preparation before you take it
out on the lake for the first time. The last thing an owner wants to do is
experience and engine failure or even worse, a fire on the first boating
weekend of the season!
To make sure the first
flotation is good for the family, let’s talk about a little spring season
preparation. Breaking the springtime
maintenance into about five different steps makes it seem easier. There is no
way we can go over all the details necessary but I’ll try and give you a pretty
Each boat is going to be
different, along with each boat owner and what they feel comfortable
Do a general cleaning of
hull, deck and topsides using a mild detergent or vinegar and water. At the same time check to make sure all the
drains and scuppers are clear of debris and flow freely.
This is also a good time
to put on the coat of a good quality carnauba paste wax. Okay, if you don’t want to use a paste wax,
use a good quality liquid wax. Whatever
kind of wax you decide to use, it is important to get a good coat on the gel
coat to protect the finish. Gel coat will oxidizing and develop a chalk like
coating. Gel coat also breaks down over
time due to the UV rays. Waxing the surface helps to prevent UV damage. If
there are any small spider cracks, wax will help to seal the cracks to
moisture. Plus the boat looks better and
has to go faster, because the surface is so slick.
This is also the time to
look into repairing any chips or cracks in the gel coat surface. Small nicks and scratches can often times be
polished out with a cordless power buffer or even a cloth and polishing
compound. If you don’t have any
polishing compound you can always do a temporary polishing with a tube of
original Crest tooth paste. The fine
abrasive in the tooth paste will help smooth out the scratches and
If the scratch is deep
enough that it needs touch up, buy a gel coat touch up kit or simpler yet, use
finger nail polish to hide the scratch.
Finger nail polish is not a permanent solution but it is an easy way to
cover a scratch and the color choices are almost unlimited.
If you have any big nicks
or blisters that need to be filled you can use gel coat to do the job. One
thing you will have to do is carve or grind the edges of the nicked area back
to remove any loose gel coat and bevel the edges so the filler can bond to the
underlying fiberglass. The edges can be
beveled with a razor knife or even a Dremel cordless tool. If fiberglass repair is not your specialty,
take the boat to a shop and have them touch up the nicks. One thing you don’t want is holes, blisters
or chips allowing water get under the gel coat.
If you have an aluminum
boat you look for dents, dings and signs of loose rivets (black soot around the
rivet). Dents just slow the boat down
(not much if they are small) and loose rivets need to be re-set to make sure
they do not leak.
If you leave your boat in
the water for the season, make sure your barrier paint and anti fouling paint
are in good condition. This is the time
to do any touch ups.
Of course, this is also
the time that you will look over all the fitting. Check cleats, stanchions, brackets to make
sure they are tight and do not have sharp edges or corrosion. Any damage to the
fittings can catch clothes, skin and damage ropes.
Most new boats have
reduced the amount of wood and carpet used on the exterior of the boat, but if
you have wood or carpet look for chips and tears. Wood should be sanded or smoothed to prevent
splinters and catching of skin and clothes.
A good wood sealer or teak oil should be applied to the wood to help
protect the surface from the elements.
Depending on your location you may need to add a coating to the wood again
later in the year.
Carpet should be kept
vacuumed with a good wet and dry vacuum. Clean, dry carpet lasts longer and has
less opportunity to build up mold and mildew.
Each boat is different so
the list can get quite long. That’s why
it is best to start on the outside of the boat and just start working your way
around it. By going slow and taking your
time inspecting everything you will have a better chance of catching even the
smallest of details. And don’t for get
to look at items like rub rails, swim platforms, boarding ladders, sacrificial
zincs and even running lights.
While you are inspecting
the exterior of the boat make sure you look for soft areas of the deck. Many
boats use a core material between two layers of fiberglass. This core gives the
boat strength without the weight required if it was all glass construction. But
the core is often made from a porous material such as balsa wood or foam. The
core can become damaged by moisture that seeps in through holes, cracks or seams.
Once the core is saturated it gains weight and losses its strength and
integrity. If you have ever walked on a
deck that felt spongy…that’s probably from a damaged core. Soft or damaged
cores are usually not an easy or cheap fix.
Making sure the fittings, stanchions, blocks or any other items mounted
to the deck are sealed and tightened appropriately.
If you happen to be the
owner of a sail boat you will also have the additional inspections of the
standing and running rigging. Make sure
you look for corrosion, bends or wear spots.
The sail track should be cleaned and lubricated with a dry lube. Don’t forget to check the spreaders and boots
so that they do not have damage that can ruin your sails.
Labels: boat checklist, Boat Insurance, boat maintenance, boat safety, boat service, boat wax, boating service, marine maintenance, marine repairs, spring checklist, Ultimate Boat Maintenance Projects