spring boatingSpring is in the air and if you are a boat owner, time to think about preparing for boating season. It is time to de-winterize. Hopefully, you have your owner’s manual available.  You will need to replace fluids and possibly parts.  Do not take anything apart without consulting your manual first.

The first thing you want to do is de-winterize your engine.  If you did not change the oil at the end of last season, do it now.  After running a boat all summer, it is likely that water, acids, and other byproducts have built a residue in your engine.  When you change the oil it prevents corrosion and excessive war which ultimately leads to loss of power, poor fuel economy or even engine failure. It is also a good time to change the oil filter and change the oil in the transmission.  The next thing you want to do is flush the cooling system and replace the antifreeze.  Check the batteries. Reattach the cables. Make sure the terminals are not corroded. If so, wipe them clean. If your battery takes water, fill it up. A dry battery is a bad battery. With a battery tester, check the volts and amps. If batteries are not good, replace them.

Next, flush the cooling system and replace the antifreeze with a 50/50 ratio of water to coolant.

Tighten the belts if needed. You should only be able to push the belt slightly down. If the belts do not fit snugly in their pulley grooves, they may be worn and in need of replacement. Belts that are not tight will wear faster because they will likely begin to slip. The alternator belt usually wears faster than the others. A sign of a worn belt is black soot somewhere in the vicinity of the pulley.

Depending on the type of boat you have, it is a good time to inspect the canvas and vinyl.  Check the bimini, seats, covers, and other vinyl and canvas items. Check for tears, dirt, and mildew. Clean with the appropriate cleaner and repair the holes. Clean and wax the hull. You also want to inspect and replace windshield wipers if necessary.  If the wipers are still in good condition, apply a rubber lubricant to protect them from the harsh marine environment.

Polish the metal and teak.  This truly will enhance the look of your boat.  If the metal and teak or dull, your boat will lose its visual appeal. Bring all the electronics back on board and do a thorough test to be sure they are still in working order. Whether you have an open deck or cabin with full galley, clean the area.

Getting the boat ready come spring is paramount to smart boating and hassle-free times. Not only will your boat perform better, but the likelihood of a problem occurring is greatly diminished. Enjoy waking up your boat this year, and here’s to a safe and prolonged season on the water.

Source: “De-Winterize Your Boat.” About.com Power boating. Web. 20 Feb. 2013.

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