Boat Maintenance: Spring Checklist

Boat Maintenance ChecklistBOAT MAINTENANCE: SPRING CHECKLIST

It's time to start prepping your boat for the upcoming season!

We compiled a checklist for you to follow so you don’t overlook anything important while “Springerizing” your boat. This check list is meant to be a guideline only. Please read your boat manual for specifics for your boat.

For up-to-date boating regulations, please pick up a current copy of the MN Boating Regulations or review on-line at: http://files.dnr.state.mn.us/rlp/regulations/boatwater/boatingguide.pdf.

Spring Start-Up

Paperwork:

  • Boat Registration
  • Boat Insurance
  • Fishing License (You and/or Spouse) 
  • Trailer Tags (if applicable)

Life Jackets:

Minnesota State Law: On all boats, regardless of length (including canoes, kayaks and duck boats), there must be a readily accessible U.S. Coast Guard approved Type I, II, III or V wearable PFD (life jacket) for each person on board. IN ADDITION, on boats 16 feet or longer (except canoes and kayaks) there must also be at least one U.S. Coast Guard approved Type IV throwable device, such as a buoyant cushion or ring buoy immediately available for each boat.

  • Check Lifejackets for rips or missing parts. Replace as needed.
  • Enough Lifejackets for everyone on board?
  • Correct size for everyone?

!SPECIAL NOTE: Minnesota Law requires life jacket to be worn by children less than 10 years of age when aboard watercraft when the craft is under way (not tied up at a dock or permanent mooring).

Fire Extinguisher:
Minnesota State requires boats 26’ and less with enclosed engine, fuel tanks or other spaces to carry (1) size B-1 U.S. Coast Guard approved, fully charged fire extinguisher.

  • Fully Charged?
  • Mounted in proper place for accessibility?
  • Correct size/type for your boat?
  • Check expiration date listed on gauge of the extinguisher for charge status. Replace if needed.

Flare Kits:
On extremely large bodies of waters such as the Great Lakes it is required to have a flare safety kit on board. Check with the local DNR for the requirements concerning your boat size.

Batteries:

  • Check state of charge level and charge as needed.
  • Examine exterior for cracks, dirt and corrosion on the terminals.
  • Clean battery terminals with fine grit sandpaper or wire brush to remove corrosion.
  •  Spray WD-40 on the connection after cleaning to inhibit seasonal corrosion.
  •  Clean cables and connection ends. Check for fraying.
  • Secure all batteries in the boat per manufacturer standards and tighten battery connections.

Ropes and Anchor Lines:

  •  Check ropes and anchor lines for damage and/or deterioration. Replace as needed.

Electrical Connections:

 Check all electrical components after battery is charged and installed.

  • Running lights
  • Depth Finders 
  • GPS 
  • Trolling Motor
  • Radios
  • Run bilge pump and aerators

Boat Hull:

  • Examine boat hull for any cracks, distortions and/or blisters.
  •  Make sure all drain plugs fit tightly. Check rubber seals/gaskets for cracks.
  •  Check water intake aerator live well inlets and bilge pump water outlets.
  • Free any blockages/obstructions.

Propellers:

  • Check your propeller for cracks, pitting distortion and dings.
  •  Check the propeller lock nut and cotter pin making sure the grip of the propeller is secure.

Outboard Motors:

  • Inspect the fuel line for dry rot, brittleness, cracking and any loose clamp connections.
  •  Check fuel tank for any leaks.
  •  Replace either if you find leakage or smell gas.
  •  Inline and engine mounted fuel filters should be replaced annually.

Check Fluid Levels:

  •  Motor Oil
  • Power Steering
  • Power Trim and Tilt reservoirs

Cable Hoses and Clamps:

  •  Remove the cover and inspect all cables, hoses and clamps, make sure there are no cracks or swells or loose clamps.

Spark Plugs:

  •  Replace as needed.

Before Heading Out:

  • Test your motor at home before heading out to the launch. Use an outboard motor flusher or cups that mount on the water intake portion of the lower housing. The motor flusher has a connection to a garden hose, allowing you to run the motor off the water.

Trailer Check List

Without your trailer, you wouldn’t be able to get your boat to the water! Spring is a good time to check over your trailer so you don’t have any problems while towing your boat.

Tires:

  • Inspect for tread wear and separation before each use.
  • Tires properly inflated? (Including the spare)
  • Check the torque on the lug nuts
  • Check for brake shoe wear on trailers that have trailer brakes.
  • Make sure everything inside the drum remains free. Trailers are submerged in water repeatedly and may rust or lock-up inside the drum.
  • Replace any worn or needed parts.

Bearings:

  • Pack wheel bearings as needed.

Rollers & Bunks:

  •  Check rollers and bunks for breaks or cracks. Replace as necessary.

Lights:

  • Check all running and brake lights. Replace blown bulbs immediately.
  • Always unplug trailer lights before launching or loading to avoid blown bulbs.
  •  Upon inspection, if no lights burn, check wiring and ground on trailer with a test light to find the problem and repair it.

Winch:

  •  Check winch strap and cable. Replace worn or frayed straps.

Frame:

  • Inspect frame for cracked joints or rusted pits in the metal. Repair as needed.
  •  Inspect axles­­­ and springs.