After being cooped up all winter long, boat owners are anxious to enjoy the warm weather. Fishing trips, afternoons on the water and feeling the spray of the waves on your face are all calling your name. But before you take that first trip out, remember to follow these important steps for proper boat maintenance and cleaning after the winter months. Remember, failure to do a thorough inspection ahead of time might result in your engine not starting after you’ve already unloaded your boat at the dock. Avoid the disappointment by properly dewinterizing a boat.
Once you’ve decided to prepare your boat for the season, the first step is get it out of storage and remove the cover. (Be sure to keep your boat in a secure facility that offers affordable rates, such as our options for boat storage in Baltimore and surrounding areas). Give your boat a visual check for any issues, such as cracks in the hull or loose rivets. You’ll need to repair these before use.
A thorough boat cleaning will include wiping down the interior and power washing the exterior. Select a soap that will be tough on dirt (and remove all salt water) but friendly to the environment. For most boats, a scrub brush with a long handle and medium-soft bristles will suffice. It’s important to do a thorough cleaning so take the time to scrub the entire boat completely. After washing, use absorbent towels to completely dry before applying wax. You can skip the wax if you prefer, but it will help give your boat a fresh shine and provide an extra layer of protection. Glass cleaner and sealants will keep your windows and chrome finish looking new. For cleaning the boat’s upholstery and vinyl, clean as you would at home.
Finally, after you are finished with your boat cleaning duties, replace anything you’ve removed for the off-season, such as seats and safety equipment, as well as the drain plug.
After completing your boat cleaning, it’s time to ensure everything is working properly. Start by checking the oil. It should be changed now if it wasn’t before you stored if for the winter. Check the oil in the outdrive as well, and change the oil filter.
Next, inspect your battery. Reattach cables and make sure terminals are not corroded. Use a battery tester to check the volts and amps.
Fill up and check your cooling system and fuel lines (which both should have been filled up at the end of the summer before finding boat storage in Washington, DC or surrounding areas.) Any evidence of softness, brittleness or cracking is a sign it may need replacement. Ensure there are no cracks in any of your belts, hoses or cables. You want your belts to fit snuggly around the pulley to prevent slipping.
In addition, it’s important to perform routine boat maintenance on:
- Power Steering
- The distributor
- Any other electronics
- Safety equipment
Enjoy boating season
With a clean boat that is cleared for safe usage with proper boat maintenance, it’s time to take it out on the water. Relax and make the most of the season, and remember to think ahead about where you’ll store your boat for the season. It’s important to find a facility that offers the space you need at a price you can afford, while maintaining high security standards.