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Is Your Boat Prepped for a Summer on the Water?

Updated: Oct 17, 2019

When you’re ready to start spending your days exploring out on your favorite body of water, you want to be sure your boat is clean, safe and set to go. Proper de-winterizing and preparation is a must for safe boating trips. Here’s a quick checklist to get you ready for your first summertime excursion!

Wash It

Remove the cover from your boat, and give the hull a good washing. Use a marine-safe, non-toxic cleaner formulated for boats to avoid damage and prevent water contamination. Finish off with a protective coat of wax. Clean the deck vinyl, and apply a UV protectant to guard against sun damage. Check all the screws, fittings, snaps and zippers, and lubricate them if needed. Air out the inside of the boat, and clean up the galley and the berths so that they’re ready for use.

Do an Inspection

Since the last thing you want is an unpleasant surprise when you’re out on the water, give the boat a diligent inspection while you’re cleaning. Check for damage to the hull, including cracks or problems with the paint job. Be on the lookout for signs of mold and mildew, especially in below-deck areas.

Inspect the equipment, wiring and mechanical parts for malfunctions and general wear and tear. If you have an outboard motor, make sure it’s free of condensation and hasn’t started to rot. Check the charge on the battery, and top it up if it’s running low. Get any problems you discover repaired or remediated before your first outing.

Stay Safe

Safety gear should also be included in your inspection. Test all the lights, and replace any burned-out or broken bulbs. Test out the horn, too, so that you know it will work when you need to signal to other boaters.

Double-check the first aid kit, and replace any missing items. Check the life jackets to make sure they’re usable and in good condition. The fire extinguisher, flares and any other emergency equipment should be readily accessible and in working order in case of an emergency.

Remember to update your license and registration if need be, and make sure the latest copies of all important documents are on board.

Get it Serviced

An annual service appointment can take care of mechanical and operational details and reveal any issues you may have missed in your inspection. Your mechanic should:

  • Check all fluids

  • Check the engine and test the ignition

  • Replace spark plugs if necessary

  • Check hoses and belts, and replace any showing signs of damage

  • Ensure proper fuel pressure

  • Adjust the carburetor as needed

  • Test the bilge pump

Having a thorough servicing gives you the confidence to head out on the water, knowing the boat is truly “shipshape!”

Prepare the Cabin

If you’re planning some lengthy excursions, you need a cozy cabin space. The stale air should all be gone after your cleaning efforts, so now is the time to bring in fresh bedding, towels and linens. Get the beds ready in advance of your first trip, and test faucets and the shower as you make your way around the cabin.

Bring your staple cooking tools back into the galley, and stock up on your favorite provisions. It’s a good idea to avoid cardboard, take labels off cans and store food in sturdy, airtight containers. This prevents the possibility of pest infestations and makes it easier to keep everything organized.

Don’t forget about boating safety once you’re out and about! Follow rules and observe speed limits in all the places you travel to avoid accidents and ensure a secure environment for everyone enjoying the water.

About the Author

Theresa “Sam” Houghton is a writer, speaker and health coach from Troy, NY. She’s a regular contributor to, and her work has appeared in the Honest Weight Food Co-Op Coop Scoop, Natural Awakenings Magazine and the 2017 Daily Dozen calendar. She has been a featured guest on Focus on Albany, WMAC’s Food Friday and the Just Ask David podcast. When she's not writing or cooking, Sam likes to read and study the Bible, cook tasty plant-based food and knit socks.You can find out more about Sam at

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