Prepare to launch
Fitting out for spring
March 20 marks the official start of spring, so follow these tips to ensure a smooth launch:
Don’t rush. To avoid accidentally sinking your boat, take your time inspecting engine hoses and hoses clamps; keep a path clear for water to drain off the boat (remove leaves from scuppers); and inspect seacocks or sea strainers for cracks. On larger boats with stuffing boxes, check for leaks and adjust the nut if necessary. Check out a full spring fitting out safety checklist here.
Have the right safety gear. While the air temperatures are warming up, water temperatures are likely to remain cool longer than usual this year—a real hypothermia threat, especially for owners of small boats, according to U.S. Coast Guard fatality statistics. Make sure you have a way to get back into the boat if you fall off; install the proper boarding ladder.
Be prepared for breakdowns. After you’ve done everything you can to get her going, stale or ethanol-laden fuel can be a problem in the spring, as is the simple wear and tear of another new boating season. Get yourself an affordable on-the-water towing plan for unexpected breakdowns, preferably one with roadside assistance for boat trailers and tow vehicles.