To help boaters have a trouble-free boating season, BoatU.S., the nation's largest recreational boating association, has a spring commissioning checklist for the nation's 13 million boat owners.
BEFORE YOU LAUNCH:
Inspect and lubricate seacocks. Hoses and hose clamps should be inspected and replaced as necessary.
Replace deteriorated zincs.
Inspect prop(s) for dings, pitting and distortion. Make sure cotter pins are secure. Grip the prop and try moving the shaft - if it's loose, the cutless bearing may need to be replaced.
Check to make sure the rudderstock hasn't been bent.
Inspect the hull for blisters, distortions and stress cracks.
Make sure your engine intake sea strainer is free of corrosion and properly secured.
Check the engine shaft and rudder stuffing boxes for looseness. After the boat is launched, be sure to check these as well as through-hulls for leaks.
Use a hose to check for deck leaks at ports and hatches. Renew caulk or gaskets as necessary.
If equipped, ensure that the stern drain plug is installed.
OUTDRIVES and OUTBOARD ENGINES:
Inspect rubber outdrive bellows for cracked, dried and/or deteriorated spots (look especially in the folds), and replace if suspect.
Check power steering and power trim oil levels. Replace worn-out zincs.
Inspect outer jacket of control cables. Cracks or swelling indicate corrosion and mean that the cable has to be replaced.
Inspect fuel lines, including fill and vent hoses, for softness, brittleness or cracking. Check all joints for leaks and make sure all lines are well supported with non-combustible clips or straps with smooth edges.
ENGINES AND FUEL SYSTEMS:
Inspect fuel tanks, fuel pumps and filters for leaks. Clamps should be snug and free of rust. Clean fuel filters. Owners of boats with fiberglass fuel tanks should be aware that gasoline with ethanol can corrode tanks and damage engines. Look for black "goo" under the carburetor.
Inspect cooling hoses and fittings for stiffness, rot, leaks and/or cracking. Make sure they fit snugly and are double-clamped.
Every few years, remove and inspect exhaust manifold for corrosion.
Clean and tighten electrical connections, especially both ends of battery cables. Wire-brush battery terminals and fill cells with distilled water (if applicable).
Inspect bilge blower hose for leaks.
Inspect tire treads and sidewalls for cracks or lack of tread and replace as necessary. Check air pressure. Don't forget the spare!
Inspect bearings and repack as necessary.
Test tail and back-up lights. Test winch to make sure it's working properly.
Inspect trailer frame for rust. Sand and paint to prevent further deterioration.
Check expiration dates on flares and fire extinguishers.
Check stove and remote tanks for loose fittings and leaking hoses.
Inspect bilge pump and float switch to make sure it's working properly.
Inspect dock and anchor lines for chafing.
Update or replace old charts, waterway guides.
Check shore power cable connections for burns, which indicates the cable and/or the shore power inlet needs to be replaced.
Make sure your boating license and/or registration is up to date. Don't forget your trailer tags.
Review your boat insurance policy and update coverage if needed. Be sure you have fuel spill insurance coverage.
Make sure you have a properly sized and wearable life jackets in good condition for each passenger, including kids and pets.
Test smoke, carbon monoxide and bilge alarms.
Be sure to get a free vessel safety check from the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary or U.S. Power Squadrons. Find out how at http://www. safetyseal.net
This checklist is available at http://www.BoatUS.com/freebies
BoatU.S. - Boat Owners Association of The United States - is the nation's leading advocate for recreational boaters providing its 640,000 members with a wide array of consumer services including a group-rate marine insurance program that insures nearly a quarter million boats; the largest fleet of more than 500 towing assistance vessels; discounts on fuel, slips, and repairs at over 825 Cooperating Marinas; boat financing; and a subscription to BoatU.S. Magazine, the most widely read boating publication in the U.S. For membership information visit http://www.BoatUS.com or call 800-395-2628.