It looks like Spring has finally sprung in the Northeast. Crocuses and daffodils are beginning to submerge from their long subterranean slumber and soon gardens will be showing off their warm weather colors.
Before you can say “April showers bring May flowers,” it will be time to get the boat ready for the water. Before you go ahead and launch your sailboat or power boat for a season of swimming, sunning and snorkeling, it’s a smart idea to make a pre-launch checklist and follow it carefully. Don’t have a list? Here’s a basic one that will cover most of the important components of your boat.
- Check your batteries.
- Clean the terminals and connections.
- Wear safety glasses and gloves to protect against marine battery acids.
- Check your boat’s running lights.
- Do an inventory and inspection of your life vests and flotation devices.
- Check your fire extinguisher and get it re-charged if necessary.
- Make sure you have at least one, if not two working flashlights and place them in readily accessible compartments on your boat.
- Check your anchor. If it’s a motorized anchor, make sure the system is fully functional and the lines are in good condition and not frayed.
- Check all your buoys.
- Inspect ropes, lines and rigging.
- Replace any frayed lines.
Equipment and hardware
- Open and close your seacocks to be sure they’re working properly and no water has seeped in and frozen over the winter.
- Make sure the hoses are double-clamped. If the clamps look rusty, replace them.
- Replace broken, rusty or damaged hardware on your tarps and awnings.
- Check any pulleys, boat hooks, and quick links to make sure they’re working and free of rust or corrosion.
- Inspect all rope cleats to make sure they are properly secured. Replace any loose screws and bent or damaged cleats.
Swab the deck…and underneath too
- Thoroughly wash the exterior of your boat before putting it into the water.
- Check all crevices, including the propeller and other hard-to-get-at areas for any possible algae, mold or organisms. Most lakes, like Lake George, Lake Champlain, and other smaller lakes, will not allow you to launch your boat if they discover any suspicious algae or organisms on the hull of your boat.
- Check your boat registration to make sure it is current.
- If you trailer your boat, check that registration as well and check the wiring so other vehicles will see your brake lights and turn signals.
- Make sure you have the proper launch stickers for whatever body of water you’ll be putting your boat in during the summer. If they’re expired, you can usually buy a new one right online.
A few hours of inspection, inventory and maintenance and repairs can save a whole lot of headache and frustration in the middle of the lake or stuck on the launch. Getting your boat ready now ensures that you and your family will have a safe, secure and fun season on the water.
Henssgen Hardware, located in Glens Falls NY, has been supplying rigging, boat hooks, snap hooks, pulleys, rope and other rigging hardware for the marine industry for 39 years. Visit their website and their online catalog for more information.