How to Prepare Your Boat for the Water

How to Prepare Your Boat for the Water

Sunny skies and calm waters are a boater’s dream. As spring transitions to summer, you’re likely itching to launch your vessel so you can enjoy it for as much of the season as possible. As a boat owner, you have the responsibility to ensure your watercraft is not only safe for you, but also for passengers who might come aboard. You likely know your vessel inside and out, so performing a routine inspection should be relatively easy to uncover any details that might be overlooked. 

Thinking about getting your boat ready for the season? Here’s how to ensure it is prepared for the water.

Examine the Hull and Propeller

The outside of your boat serves an important purpose. The hull is exposed to most of the water and external elements, so look for cracks or blisters that could lead to leaks or internal damage if not repaired. Find your drain plug, and check it for wear and tear before putting it back in place. Your propeller will get you where you want to go, so it only makes sense that it should be in good working order. Look for any bends or cracks in the metal that could cause performance issues; the last thing you want is to throw a propeller blade! If it seems like it’s good to go, ensure the propeller is secured tightly in place.

Inspect the Boat’s Onboard Systems

Winterization ensures that nothing in your vessel’s onboard systems will freeze and cause damage over the colder months. However, these parts are vital when it comes to getting it ready for warmer weather. You will need to look over your fuel and electrical systems before you launch, for instance. If any hoses or plugs were removed, ensure they are put back in the right place. Check that fittings, clamps, connections, belts, and cables are secure. You should consider turning on your vessel in the driveway while connected to the hose, just to see if your battery needs charging. Also be sure to check that the navigation system, ventilation, and exhaust are all working well. 

Top Up the Fluids

Just like anything motorized, your watercraft needs the right kinds of fluid to keep everything working properly. Check the engine oil, power steering fluid, and coolant. Fill up as needed, and ensure you have some extra on hand if you are a frequent boater, as you will likely need to do this again before the season is over. If you didn’t change your oil before winterizing, now is the time to do so. There’s nothing worse than preparing for a boat day and climbing aboard, only to find an empty tank, so don’t forget to fill up on gas before or on your way to the water.

Give it a Thorough Cleaning

Depending on where you store your vessel in the off-season, it might not need too much cleaning, especially if it was wrapped well or stored inside. Some heavy-duty soap and a pressure washer work great for the hull, and some boat owners choose to apply an oiled coating to further protect it from wear and tear. A soft cloth with a multipurpose cleaner can be used to wipe down the inside, including the cushions and vinyl pieces. You might opt to apply a UV protectant on these surfaces if you often leave your watercraft uncovered and exposed to the sun. 

Stock Your Safety Equipment

In Canada, the laws surrounding safety equipment and boats are governed by the Ministry of Transportation. Specifics depend on the size of your vessel, but most need similar supplies. For motorized crafts up to six feet in length, the mandatory requirements are:

  • A government-approved personal floatation device (PFD) for everyone on board. These should be free of holes and rips. Have everyone try on their life jacket before heading out to ensure they still fit. 
  • A 15-metre long buoyant heaving line.
  • A paddle. 
  • An anchor with 15 metres of rope or chain length.
  • A bailer or hand pump.
  • An air horn or whistle.
  • Some navigation lights if driving during dark or foggy conditions.
  • A class 5BC fire extinguisher. You might also consider installing a carbon monoxide detector in enclosed areas.
  • A waterproof flashlight or flares.

As a boat owner, you should always ensure these items are on board before heading out. You might even consider adding a toolkit and first aid kit to this list, as these essentials can come in handy in the event of an emergency. Beyond these requirements, you should also verify that your fenders and dock lines are intact and capable of lasting you the full season.

Perform a Trailer Check

You might find yourself overlooking this part when you are getting your vessel ready for the season. However, trailer checks are almost as important as examining your watercraft itself. Check the pressure in each of the tires, including the spare, and top off with air as needed. Hook up the trailer to your vehicle and have someone sit in the driver’s seat while you check the turning, brake, and reverse lights. Assess the winch and transom straps for any frays or rips, as these are key to holding the boat in place while it is on the trailer.

Stay Up-to-Date on Your Paperwork

Before setting sail, so to speak, ensure you have taken care of any registration and licensing requirements for your specific area. Although some provinces’ specifications differ, you should be aware of vessel licensing and registration wherever you are taking your watercraft. Working with an experienced marine insurance broker like Portside Insurance means we can help if you have questions regarding the process and policies you need.

All in all, there’s a lot of work that goes into getting your boat water-ready for the upcoming season, but it’s well worth it. You give it the time, care, and attention it needs so that each voyage can be carefree and fun. Part of your peace of mind should come from an active insurance policy. Boat insurance is a crucial part of keeping you, your passengers, and your vessel safe. To learn more about our coverage options, Including seadoos, or to get a quote, please contact us