The ice is finally melting on the lakes which means boating season will soon be upon us. While we know that all you want to do is feel that lake breeze on your skin, there are some steps you should take before putting your boat in the water.
Make sure you have your paperwork
The first thing you want to do is make sure all of your documents are ready to go.
- Be sure to check your boat insurance documents. Read over your policy to ensure that you still have the coverage you need. Place them in an easy to find, easily accessible place. Oh, and it’s probably a good idea to put your insurance provider’s number in your phone. Just in case.
- Make sure you have your Pleasure Craft Operator Card or other proof of competency on your boat or in a safe place where you won’t forget to bring it with you when you’re out on the water. It is required by law and you don’t want to admit to the police that you lost it if for some reason they stop you on the lake.
- Ensure that your boat license (the license for your boat, not the one for you) and registration are up to date. If your name or address has changed, your license will need to be updated. If you’ve registered your boat, make sure that the name of your boat and registration number are visible.
Inspect your boat
Checking that your boat is sound and able to float will save you time and money, ultimately making your experience on the water that much more fun.
- While your boat is still on the trailer or in its cradle, inspect the hull. Check for scratches, dents, and holes. Put on a coat of wax or paint to protect it from water damage.
- Check the thru-hull fittings. Make sure all the valves are tight and the boat plug is in place.
- Inspect the fuel system. Check all the fittings and hoses for damage and replace the fuel filters.
- Check the oil. If it has discoloured over the winter months, water has gotten into it which means you have a leak. Have a mechanic inspect it before you try to get that engine roaring.
- Inspect the rudder. Make sure it still moves cleanly and that the stock has not been bent or damaged.
- Check the lights, horn, and electrical equipment to make sure that everything is working as it should.
- Examine the dock and anchor lines for wear and chafing. Be sure to replace any lines that show signs of damage.
- If you have a sailboat, make sure you check the rigging for wear and corrosion.
- Clean, clean, clean. You want that boat sparkling before you start the summer. Clean and polish the metal, wipe off the windows and hatches, polish the wood, and clean the canvas.
Check your supplies and equipment
Plan ahead before that long weekend comes. Stock up on your emergency supplies and check your equipment.
- Look at the condition of your life jackets. Since life jackets are required for every person on your boat, they are subjected to a lot of wear and tear. Make sure that yours are still in good condition and replace them if necessary.
- Check your emergency supplies—signaling devices, life rings, fire extinguishers, etc.—and ensure that they’re all in good working order.
- Refill the first aid kit. We know that you know that you have a first aid kit on board, but do you know the last time you stocked it? Take a look at it before you go out on the water and make sure you have all the band-aids, bandages, first aid cream, and sunscreen that you’ll need for the summer.
- Check the bailer and hand pump. You definitely want those to work if you have an emergency.
- Make sure your navigation system is working if you have a GPS. If you’re still a little bit old-school, check that your maps and navigational charts are up to date.
- Replace your wiper blades if needed.
- Check your spare parts and tools. Be sure to replace or acquire them as needed.
By checking these items off your to-do list, you’ll be a little bit closer to a carefree season. If you have any questions or concerns about your boat insurance policy, give us a call. We’ll be happy to talk it over with you.