Boating season is getting started, so it’s time to prepare your vehicle and review your boat insurance.
Now that the warmer weather is well underway, many watercraft owners are keen to take their vehicles out of storage and begin their use; but it’s important to take the proper steps to prepare it, including reviewing your boat insurance and making sure it’s up to date.
Though your boat may have been in perfect working order the last time you used it, a lot can happen to change that condition when it has spent several months in storage, so it’s important to take a few spring cleaning and maintenance steps to prepare it for safe use and avoid problems this season.
Use the following steps to get your boat ready for the summer and avoid making a boat insurance claim:
• Take out the manufacturer’s manual. If you have a copy, keep it handy. If you don’t, see if there is a copy of it online that can be printed out, or contact the manufacturer to obtain a copy. You’ll need to consult it whenever you replace fluids and parts.
• Prepare the engine for use. This is typically the messiest and most time consuming step. It will generally begin with an oil change if this was not done at the end of the season. It’s not recommended that you run the engine again after acids, water, and other byproducts have been allowed to build up from last season’s use. Changing the oil will prevent excessive wear and corrosion, which can cause costly problems ranging from poor fuel economy to loss of power and engine failure.
The oil filter can be changed at the same time as the oil itself. The oil can also be changed in the lower unit of the outboard and in the transmission.
Flush the cooling system and add a 50/50 coolant to water ratio to replace the antifreeze.
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Replace the batteries and then test the engine thoroughly.
• Go over the vinyl and canvas seats, bimini top, covers, and other fabric parts, looking for dirt, mildew and tears. Clean these elements with a proper product designed for that purpose and repair any holes and tears.
• Clean the hull. By using a mild detergent to wash the hull, you’ll be able to go over the whole thing looking for chips, cracks, blisters, and other problems such as chalky residue. This can allow for repairs to be made. In the case of the chalky residue, oxidation could be the cause and it will need to be evaluated and properly treated in order to bring the gelcoat on the boat to its original condition. The hull can then be waxed according to the maintenance plan on the gelcoat.
• Make sure that your boat insurance is up to date and that it provides you with the proper level of coverage for your vehicle and use this year.