Just like boning up on river etiquette or revisiting basic safety tips before the season starts, a little bit of planning now can make your first outing this spring in a boat a heck of a lot smoother.
Again this is just the tip of the iceberg and we welcome any suggestions, but the five items below have all stymied me at some point in the past. I know… a few are ridiculous, but I’m a slow learner and need constant reinforcement. Do yourself a favor and do a few of these now to save your first float of the the season.
1. Make sure your trailer lights are working. This has got to be one of the most common problems facing boaters. Just the other day I pulled out my boat and sure enough the ground wire on my harness had worn through and the lights were not working. A easy fix with some electrical tape and a spare part or two, but many are not. Check the lights now and fix the if they’re not working. Take the trailer to a mechanic if you need to. This will keep you from getting pulled over or not being able to go at all due to safety issues at night or in bad weather.
2. Another trailer ailment… Tighten those lug nuts. Ask yourself seriously? When was the last time you did this?
3. Another major “boo boo” I’ve made is almost never checking my tire pressure on my trailer. I stopped to fill up my truck tires last year and randomly thought to myself when I last checked the trailer tires. I literally couldn’t remember putting air in them in years. Sure enough though they didn’t look it, but were dangerously low. An easy mistake to make that could have disastrous consequences. Check your trailer tires first float of the year (and, unlike me, often throughout the floating season).
4. Hard boat owners, do you have a spare drain plug or plugs? My dory has midships drain plugs and halfway through last year I started noticing an inch, then an inch and a half of water standing in the floor of the boat. I checked tightness and bilged but the water kept returning. At first I thought somehow I had a leak in the hull, but that wasn’t the case. The rubber for the drain plugs had dry-rotted and was slowing letting in water. Occasionally I’ve bumped out my stern drain plug as well on rocks. Bottom line, always cary a spare drain plug or two in the boat.
5. Raft owners, check your valves. Do they seem to be leaking air? One of the most simple fixes I’ve ever found to this problem is 303 UV Protectant. Literally fill the entire valve with it and let it soak in overnight or when you put away the boat for the winter. Voila, this almost always fixes slightly leaking valves. This is the same stuff you put on your rubber boat every year for UV protection. Like my friend likes to say, “it’s like sunblock for your dinghy.”
Of course there are many others which we’ll cover down the line, but these five problems are mostly easy to fix in mere minutes and can save an entire day of hanging out on your boat.