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    Spring Preparations for Boating Season

    Spring Preparations for Boating Season

    Photo By Pamela Doty | By R.J. Garren read more read more



    Story by Pamela Doty 

    U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Water Safety

    Spring is the time to make sure you’re prepared for a safe, fun, and relaxing boating season. I don’t like being the only one who knows how to operate my boat, so I encourage my friends and family who are going to boat with me to take a boating course too. Those are available either online or in person and both types can be found at this link…/boating-safety-courses.php.

    The first thing I do in preparation for boating season is gather all my life jackets and throwable devices together in one place and check them for mold, rips, or tears. I’ve purchased a variety of U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) approved sizes and styles of life jackets for all those who boat with me. Those who don’t swim well always wear inherently buoyant life jackets. I test my assortment of inflatable life jackets by manually blowing them up using the inflation tube and then let them sit for at least 2 hours or more to make sure there are no leaks. I check to make sure that the CO2 cartridges are in good condition and installed properly. Then I follow manufacturer’s instructions to make sure I repack each one correctly. The automatic inflatable life jackets with hydrostatic mechanisms have an expiration date on them, so I check that and replace it if needed.

    To winterize an outboard motor, it’s a good idea to change the oil in the lower unit every year before the boat is stored because if there’s any water in there it can freeze. I’ve made some mistakes fueling my boat in the spring with very expensive fuel that was supposed to have less than 10% ethanol. Even though my particular boat engine is supposed to be able to handle that, I’ve found that ethanol-free fuel works best. It’s hard to find sometimes, but well worth it. It’s a good idea to add fuel stabilizer even to the ethanol-free fuel. Checking and filling the engine oil before you launch is easier than filling it on the water. Some engines may require other fluids to be checked and added. Engine cables, hoses, and belts can become brittle and crack during winter storage, so it’s important to check those.

    It’s best to trickle charge your boat battery occasionally during the winter to make sure it’s going to work when you put it back in your boat. After the battery is hooked up while my boat is on dry land, I check all the navigational lights to make sure they work. Another good idea is to use an outboard motor flushing attachment or muffs hooked to a water hose to check if the engine is running properly before launching.

    I removed the fire extinguisher before storing my boat, so before I put it back on my boat I check to make sure the arrow is still in the green and that it hasn’t passed its expiration date. It’s good to turn it upside down and tap it on the bottom a few times because ingredients inside can settle making it ineffective. It’s actually a good practice to do this tap process at least once a month. You can weigh your fire extinguisher to make sure it’s the correct weight shown on the label. If it’s not the correct weight then that could be a sign that it’s expired. If in doubt replace it; it’s inexpensive compared to the consequences of a boat fire.

    A Boater’s Guide to the Federal Requirements for Recreational Boats and Safety Tips can be found at this link In this publication, you’ll find more safety requirements for vessels over 26’ long, such as backfire flame arrester, oil pollution placard, garbage placards, marine sanitation device, and inland navigation rules book. State boating equipment regulations vary, so make sure you check the requirements for wherever you’re going boating.

    The USCG Auxiliary and U.S. Power Squadrons give free Vessel Safety Checks (VSC) to make sure boats are meeting all the federal and state requirements. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers park rangers and state marine law enforcement personnel may conduct VSC’s in your area too. It’s best to have your boat checked by a VSC expert annually to ensure you’re boating safely. You can request a VSC at



    Date Taken: 05.06.2019
    Date Posted: 05.06.2019 13:31
    Story ID: 320915
    Location: US

    Web Views: 76
    Downloads: 1