Pre-Season Preparation

With spring upon us and Easter only around the corner, its time to start preparing your boat for the season ahead.  Whether your boat has been winterised or stored throughout the winter months, there are a few things that you should ensure you do prior to using the boat once again.

The Top Tips for preparing your boat include:-

Change the fuel filter/fuel-water separator….
….if this wasn’t carried out back in the autumn.  Most engines are equipped with at least one fuel filter or fuel-water separator.  These filters should be changed to eliminate moisture and contaminants that are trapped in the filter.

Your boat should have been stored with the fuel tanks full….
….this helps to prevent moisture condensation in the fuel tank.  If this wasn’t the case, top them up now and add a fuel additive that will absorb any moisture that may have formed while the boat was stored.

Change the engine oil & oil filter….
….if this was’t carried out in the autumn.  Start the engine and allow it to come up to operating temperature before changing the engine oil and oil filter.  This not only allows for a better oil change, but also picks up moisture that many have condensed in the engine while not in use.  This moisture can then be removed with the old engine oil.  Many boats are designed to allow the oil to be removed through the dipstick tube.  This can only be accomplished by the use of an oil evacuation system.  As the engine oil is draining, loosen the oil filter using the proper filter wrench. Its a good idea to place a container under the filter to catch any oil that may drip as the filter is loosened.  Many oil filters are mounted vertically and can be removed easily if precautions are taken to prevent the filter from being tipped when it is removed from the engine bilge.  Other oil filters are mounted horizontally or even upside down.  These present a larger problem when they are removed.  For those filters, a catch pan must be placed under the filter to catch all of the used oil that drains from the filter.  Used motor oil is considered a carcinogen (can cause skin cancer if exposed over long periods of time).  Use caution and clean your hands often when working with any used motor oil.  As with all petroleum based products, proper disposal is very important.  Used oil and oil filters should be recycled or disposed of accordingly.  Never dispose of used oil and oil filters in the landfill.  This allows the used oil to soak into the ground and possibly contaminate the ground water.

 Change the lubricant in the outdrive or transmission….
….another job to be done if it wasn’t done in the autumn.  Drain the lubricant in the outdrive or transmission and replace with the new fluid.  Again, it may be necessary to place a drain pan under the outdrive to catch the used lubricant as it is drained.  If an evacuation system is available, it can be used to evacuate the used lubricant.  Some outdrives require the removal of the propeller to allow access to the drain plug.  It is a good idea to remove the propeller at this time and inspect the propeller hub, propeller shaft and splines and oil seal located behind the prop. With the fluid out of the outdrive, its a great time to pressure test the lower unit and inspect for signs of leaks or damage.  When installing the propeller, be sure to lubricate the prop shaft splines with quality marine grease.  This will help prevent wear and make prop removal much easier next time round.  Once again it is important to dispose of used lubricants properly.  Please refer to the owner’s manual for the re-fill instructions.

Lubricate all grease fittings
Normally, there are grease fittings located on the steering arm, shift and throttle linkages and outdrive pivot points.  Be sure to lubricate all of these points according to manufacturer recommendations.

Charge and re-install your battery
If your boat was stored with battery removed, place the battery on a slow charger to ensure that it is fully charged, and then re-install the battery.  This check will test the battery’s ability to hold a charge under a load, like when the engine is being started or when other heavy loads are placed on it.

If the transom drain plug was removed during storage, re-install it
There is nothing like the adrenaline rush you get when you discover the transom plug is out and you are trying to figure out how to get your boat back on the trailer before it comes to rest on the bottom!

Inspect your trailer
Make sure all trailer lights are operating properly.  Check the winch cable to strap and tie downs.  If there are signs of wear or damage, replace them.  Check the trailer coupler and safety chains.  Make sure the coupler is locking to the hitch ball and ensure that the safety chains are not damaged and can be attached to the tow vehicle easily.  Also, lubricate the wheel bearings on the trailer.  If the trailer is not equipped with grease hubs, the wheels should be removed and the bearings inspected and lubricated.