CHICAGO (April 28, 2010) - Spring has sprung as an estimated 13 million Americans prepare to take their boats out of winter storage and on the water. For boaters, spring cleaning is a necessary annual tradition to ensure the protection and safety of every boater on the water.
Discover Boating <http://www.discoverboating.com> , the recreational boating industry's national awareness campaign, has helpful how-to's for springtime boat preparation. After consulting the owner's manual for specific maintenance instructions for your boat model, take a look at these six areas to be water-ready in time for your launch date:
- Fuel System. Inspect the fuel system for leaks or damage, especially fuel hoses, connections and tank surfaces. Evidence of damaged fuel hoses could be softness, brittleness or cracking. Replace components when necessary and verify all fittings and clamps are appropriately secured. Ensure the engine, exhaust and ventilation systems are also all functioning properly.
- Belts, Cables & Hoses. Belts, cables and hoses are important to check, as they could become brittle and crack during winter storage. Belts should fit tightly around the pulleys to prevent slipping, while a worn belt may have a black substance near the pulley and will fit loosely. Cracks or swells on the outer jacket of control cables may be a sign you should take immediate action.
- Electrical System. Inspect all electrical connections for cleanliness and tightness - corrosion is often a sign the connection may not be safe. To prepare electrical connections for the summer season, remove the terminals and use a wire brush to clean them, along with all cable ends. Charge the battery and have it tested to ensure it holds a charge. Electrical systems should be routinely inspected by a qualified technician.
- Fluid Levels. Check all fluid levels including engine oil, power steering, power trim reservoirs and coolant. If not done prior to winterizing your boat, be sure to change the engine oil, oil filter and drive lubricants.
- Propellers & Hulls. Inspect propellers for dings, pitting, cracks and distortion. Damaged propellers can cause unwanted vibration, poor performance and damage to the propulsion system. Make sure the propeller is secured properly - be sure to replace bearings when needed. When inspecting the hull, look for blisters, distortions and cracks. Clean the hull, deck, and topsides using an environmentally-safe cleaning solution. And, make sure the drain plug is securely in place before every launch.
- Safety Gear. Inspect lifejackets to ensure all are in good condition and that there are enough on board for all passengers. It's important for passengers to have access to the correct size lifejacket for their body weight. Onboard fire extinguishers must be the correct class for your boat, fully charged and stowed in the proper place. Take advantage of vessel safety checks offered by the U.S. Coast Guard <http://www.uscgboating.org/> (USCG) or USCG Auxiliary <http://www.cgaux.org/vsc> .
An extensive spring start-up checklist is also available on DiscoverBoating.com <http://www.discoverboating.com/owning/maintenance/startup.aspx>