Spring Commissioning Checklist

March 2018 Feature BoatUS

With boatyards, backyards, marinas, and clubs now coming to life, spring commissioning time has arrived. Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS) has a Spring Commissioning Checklist to help boaters start the season right:

Before You Launch:

1.    Hose clamps should be inspected and replaced as necessary. Double clamp below-waterline connections, including all hose and fuel lines with marine-rated stainless hose clamps and keeping seacocks closed when you are away are wise moves.

2.    Inspect cooling hoses for stiffness, rot, leaks and cracking. Make sure they fit snugly.

3.    Replace deteriorated sacrificial anodes.

4.    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 (on inboard drive systems) may need to be replaced.

5.    Inspect the hull for blisters, distortions and stress cracks.

6.    With inboards, check the engine shaft and rudder stuffing boxes for looseness. A stuffing box should only leak when the prop shaft is turning and needs to be inspected routinely.

7.    Inspect bilge pump and float switch to make sure they’re working properly.

8.    Inspect dock and anchor lines for chafing.

9.    If equipped, ensure that the stern drain plug is installed.

Engine Outdrives and Outboards:

1.    Inspect rubber outdrive bellows for cracked, dried and/or deteriorated spots (look especially in the folds) and replace if suspect.

2.    Check power steering and power trim oil levels. 

3.    Replace anodes that are more than half worn away.

4.    Inspect outer jacket of control cables. Cracks or swelling indicate corrosion and mean that the cable must be replaced.

Engines and Fuel Systems:

1.    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 noncombustible clips or straps with smooth edges.

2.    Inspect fuel tanks, fuel pumps and filters for leaks. Ensure portable tanks and lines are completely drained of stale fuel before filling with new fuel. Clamps should be snug and free of rust. Clean or replace fuel filters.

3.    Every few years, remove and inspect exhaust manifolds for corrosion.

4.    Charge battery. Clean and tighten electrical connections, especially both ends of battery cables. Wire-brush battery terminals and fill cells with distilled water (if applicable).

5.    Inspect bilge blower hose for leaks.


1.    Inspect tire treads and sidewalls for cracks or lack of tread and replace as necessary.  Check air pressure — don’t forget the spare.

2.    Inspect wheel bearings and repack as necessary.

3.    Test all lights and winch to make sure they’re working properly. Inspect hitch chains.

4.    Inspect trailer frame for rust. Sand and paint to prevent further deterioration.

5.    Inspect brakes and brake fluid reservoir.


1.    Check expiration dates on flares. Inspect fire extinguishers. Replace if over 12 years old. Over 40 million Kidde extinguishers with plastic handles were recalled on Nov. 2, 2017.

2.    Make sure you have properly sized and wearable life jackets in good condition for each passenger, including kids. Check inflatable life jacket cylinders.

3.    Check running lights and spare bulb inventory.

4.    Replenish first aid kit items that may have been used last season.

5.    Be sure to get a free vessel safety check from the US Coast Guard Auxiliary or US Power Squadrons. Find out more at SafetySeal.net.

The Paperwork:

1.    Make sure your boat registration is up to date. Don’t forget your trailer tags.

2.    Review your boat insurance policy and update coverage if needed. Provide a copy to your marina or club.

3.    If applicable, ensure your BoatUS Towing Membership is in good standing. Log in to BoatUS.com/Account to check your membership status or join at BoatUS.com.

A downloadable PDF version of this Spring Commissioning Checklist is available at: www.BoatUS.com/spring-boat-commissioning-checklist.

  • Like what you read?

    Want to know when we have important news, updates or interviews?

  • Join our newsletter today!

    Sign Up
You Might Also Be Interested In...

Send to your friends!

Click here to read the current issue.

Already a subscriber? Please check your email for the latest full issue link.