As we approach the month of May we are all saying goodbye to the hideous Winter we (Northeasterns) just endured and can not wait to say Hello to the best season of all: Boating Season. In years past I have found that as the excitement builds up for my first boat outing each Spring I tend to overlook some of the small things. This, in turn, usually mitigates the fun of my first time out as I spend half of the day looking for something I can not find, another few hours thinking about where the heck I could put this or that, or just plain angry at myself for not being fully prepared. Now, I am a glass half full kind of guy, so I try to look at the bigger picture and say to myself, "Okay, you are human and made a few mistakes. make up for it coming up this summer. "
However, the perfectionist in me will then pop up and say, "How could you possibly have forgotten to check Y? you overlook Z? ". With that, as the weather is getting nicer by the day and boating season right around the corner, here are three important tips to prepare yourself and your boat for this amazing time of year.
Maybe it is the overprotective parent in me, but I have to start with safety first. Go through your boat and make sure you have every last item relating to safety. Even if you are positive you have something on board, double check it. Then triple check it. Make sure your life vests are all accounted for and look like they are in good shape. Locate your first aid box, take stock of its belongings and replenish as necessary. Perhaps most importantly, check for your Marine VHF radio. Once you have located it, check the battery power.
If they are rechargeable, then make sure they have a full charge. If they are disposable, make sure you replace the Marine VHF unit with fresh batteries (as well as stocking your boat with a plethora of backups). Next, turn the Marine VHF radio on and test out that it is properly functioning to ensure that you can make a SOS call if need be. You can not be too careful with the above mentioned steps. Many times in our excitation for all of the fun we are going to encounter we tend to overlook the necessary precautions. Please prepare a safety checklist and make sure every item on the list is taken care of before your first trip out of the season.
One more safety tip and then we will get to the fun part, I promise. Next thing you want to do is inspect the exterior and interior of the actual boat. Check for any and all holes. Scour for any possible source of leaks. After a few months off, depending on where you are storing your boat, a number of different things can eat away at the exterior causing some decay. This may seem like an obvious one, but like I said sometimes the obvious ones are the ones that get by us due to the exclusion levels.
Lastly, I like to give my boat an aesthetic once over before each season. I check out all of the paint jobs, the upholstery, the electronics, etc. If the paint is starting to peel then I will give it another coat. If the upholstery is showing some signs of wear and tear then I will make sure it is fixed up. I like to entertain on my boat so these types of things are important to me.
Most of my boating community friends are the same way. Much like your home, you want people to be impressed and be at ease on your boat. This leads me to the last tip, make sure you have your "party host" supplies taken care of. I like to go to a wholesale supermarket type place and load up my boat with all sorts of food and drinks for two reasons. First, of course, for safety. I always make sure my emergency stockpile of water and canned goods is more than enough in case of an emergency. Secondly, I hate running out of food and drinks when entertaining company on my boat. By making a party checklist before the season starts you can ensure that you always have a full stock of supplies.
As the intensity of our buildups grows with each passing seventy-plus degree day, do not miss to safety-proof your boat before your first ride this Spring. Follow the rules above and you should have a fun, healthy, and (most of all) safe boating season. Enjoy!