The Ultimate Boater's Checklist To Be Ready for Memorial Day
As Memorial Day approaches, every boat owner starts getting ideas to fire up their boat and take it for a ride in the crystal waters of the ocean or nearby lakes.
However, after such a long break, every boat & trailer needs a good clean up and some routine maintenance to ensure they look great and work perfectly. The following are some of the things you need to check to ensure your boat and boat trailer are ready for the upcoming boating season.
1. Visual Inspection
After some time in storage, your boat is bound to be dirty and untidy. The first thing you need to do is to give it a good cleaning. Wash every corner of your boat while checking it for any cracks, holes, and punctures that could cause a problem while on the water and fix them immediately. If your boat is made of fiberglass, it is recommended that you wax it at least once per year to make it easier to clean after use and prevent surface dirt buildup. See our list of recommended boat cleaners.
Your boat trailer requires a similar visual inspection. Look around at all the welded joints, tires, rims, axles, hitch and bunks.
2. Fuel Systems Inspection
The fuel system must be in perfect condition or else your boat might stop moving while on the lake or even fail to start at all. Check all exposed fuel components for any signs of deterioration or rot. If your boat has a primer bulb, squeeze it to find any leaks. You need to check for any leaks - even in the hidden parts of the boat. You may also have to replace any bad fuel hoses you find. Bad fuel hoses may appear as too brittle or too soft.
3. Suspension and Axles
Torsion systems are common in most modern trailers, requiring less maintenance. However, there are still many trailers that use leaf springs for their suspension. It is important to check for wear and tear on the springs themselves, looking for cracks, breaks or corrosion. Separation of the leaf springs at the ends may indicate a weak or failing spring pack and may require replacement. Verify that the eyelets and any bushings are also in good working condition. You should see an even load balance, without the trailer leaning to one side or the other. Each of the leaves should be checked individually for any bending or alignment issues. Overall the springs should have good shape and maintain their arch.
Axles have similar inspection points. Make sure the overall axle has a proper (albeit slight) bend or camber where the center of the axle is higher than the wheel mounts. Axles can be bent from overloading or unfavorable road conditions like potholes. If the axle center is lower than the ends, it needs to be replaced or repaired. Inspect the hangers, shackle plates, and other attachment hardware for corrosion, breaks, or cracks. Keep any friction points and joints well lubricated with appropriate lubrication materials.
4. Tires & Wheels
Check for proper inflation on all trailer tires. We recommend you inflate to the manufacturers' recommended PSI (see your tire wall for specifics). Also, check tires for any uneven wear and be sure to rotate tires, or replace, if necessary.
5. Bearings & Seals
The bearings in your boat trailer are critical to your boating enjoyment. Keep your bearings greased and have them serviced once a year, at least. If you can remove your wheel, inspect the axle for any scoring, rust, or pitting where the bearings make contact.
All seals should be inspected for fit and breakdown. Ensure that all rubber is in excellent condition and will help prevent dust and debris from entering the bearings.
All of our new Pacific Trailers boat trailers come with the VAULT Hybrid lubrication system which needs to be visually inspected every 5 years and carry a 10-year warranty.
6. Electrical Systems Inspection
Nothing can ruin a perfect boating adventure than getting stuck in the middle of a lake because your boat’s battery died! To avoid such a situation, you must test the battery to know whether it needs replacement. Charge the battery using a slow charger overnight. Let the battery sit for about a day and then take it to a parts store for load testing. This simulates the battery getting used and should give you reliable knowledge of the condition of your battery. If stored properly, the average boat battery needs to be replaced every 4-5 years. Always check to ensure all battery connections are correct to avoid blowing fuses. Any corrosion at the wires or terminals should be cleaned and the clamps tightened securely.
7. Water Pump Inspection
The Spring is the perfect time to consider getting a new water pump impeller especially if you haven’t replaced it after 3 to 4 years of use. Your engine needs a constant flow of cooling water or else it can get damaged in seconds especially when moving at high speeds. For emission and economy standards, modern engines run hotter and are a lot less forgiving of an overheat situation.
8. Coupler and Hitch
Inspect the coupler and verify that all bolts and welds are secure and in good condition. Check for rust, corrosion and misalignment issues that can cause uneven wear and tear. Be sure you keep the coupler lubricated to avoid excessive wear. Your hitch needs to be checked for uneven wear as well. Replace any components that show signs of excessive wear. Don't forget that most DMV's in each state require safety chains for just about any trailer. Inspect your chains for any stress cracks or fractures and corrosion.
9. Gear Check
You need to check if you have all the gear you need on your boat and that it is working perfectly. Check if you have enough life jackets and replace any that have rips, bad seams, or the ones that are no longer pliable. Every person who will board your boat should be provided with a life jacket that fits them. Any lines with signs of rotting should also be replaced. The fire extinguisher should also be checked regularly and placed in an easily accessible place to be ready for immediate use.
Other gear that needs checking is a distress flag, working horn, throwable device, and an anchor with a line. An anchor may seem useless to many but it is important because it can help stop your boat from drifting in case of a breakdown. A basic first aid kit and a basic toolkit are also a must-have on the boat in case of emergency.
Getting your boat ready is for the upcoming season is a task that any boat owner can handle on their own. However, if there is a complicated issue that you cannot handle or if you are unsure of the condition of your boat, hire a professional boat mechanic to inspect it for you and fix any faulty boat trailer parts. Now you are ready to get on the water and enjoy a happy and safe boating season!
I will be taking a boat and trailer that has been sitting for approximately two years, about 800 miles. Had planned on changing tires and inspecting and repacking the bearings for the trip. Several people have told me that it won’t make it that far bc the tires are to small. Last thing I want is to be stuck on side of the road. Do you have any advice or recommendations for a long trip like this?