So why should it be any different when we put our boats and fishing gear away for the winter?
Rockfish season will be here before we know it! And between now and then there are a few small tasks we can take care of to save a little time, aggravation and money.
Before starting your half-time maintenance show, plug in and hook up a battery charger, preferably one of the automatic battery maintainers.
Make sure all battery switches are in the off position and charge each battery independently.
If your boat is stored on a trailer outside for the winter you need to get up in it and clean out any leaves and branches that have accumulated on deck. If left in place, especially acidic oak leaves that get wet and frozen over the winter.
Now that warmer weather is upon us, these leaf ice-cubes begin to melt and seep dark tea colored stain all over your wonderful boat.
If left unchecked this tea staining will absorb into the pourus gelcoat decks and will take plenty of beer, cussing and chemicals to remove them. So now is the time to get all that debris out of the boat and give any stains a good scrubbing before they really set in.
Also check the entire vessel for trapped standing water.
These most likely came from the rain and snow but need to be dried out immediately to ward of rot, mildew and fungus also known as “Boat Cancer”.
To keep the areas dry, find the source of the water and fix it. Even if you have to put someone into the compartment close the hatch and run the hose over entire hatch from all angles. Your helper with a flashlight should be able to locate the leak.
All live wells, anchor lockers and storage areas need to be propped open and misted with straight bleach to kill any mildew or funguses that have started.
From now until you start fishing they should stay open to keep funk from growing again. Ropes including dock lines, tow lines and anchor line should be dunked in a bucket of bleach water to kill the nasty things growing on them.
After soaking well, pull them out in the yard or drive way to completely dry before putting them back. Now is the time to replace any frayed, rotted or unsound ropes.
This past fall fishing season you may have heard rattles that weren’t there before. If you can’t locate the rattle, get a screw driver and ensure all hardware screws are tight.
The usually loosen up on the bow rail, rod holders, dash panels and cleats.
If you notice water sneaking into your boat from somewhere unknown, it’s probably one of those loose fasteners and it will have to be resealed with 3M 101 sealant or equivalent.
Once your batteries are charged, if they are not sealed maintenance free pull the little vent caps off wearing gloves a goggles to see if the water level inside is full. If they are, good.
But you may have to add some. Then recharge the ones you added water to. Check to see that every electrical circuit is functioning properly. Bulbs, gauges, blower, horn and radio etc. should be in working order. Also check to see that the motor’s power trim/tilt is functioning. Be sure not to start you engine until all hard freeze threats are gone.
Take a good look at the hull of the boat for any damage.
Below the waterline look for any areas there seeping water (usually brown) pay close attention to areas that surround thru-hulls, transducers, outdrives and shaft penetrations these streaks are bilge water and rainwater that is accumulating in your bilge. Brown streaks can also be seen at any random area on the hull.
Any time you see these signs of water seepage below the waterline while the boat is out of the water. That’s bad. If it’s a small crack in the hull, fiberglass repair is in order. If it is any other thru-hull, it will have to be taken out and resealed. This is important because if water is seeping out while boat is out of the water, much more water seeps in the boat when it is in water.
This one requires moderate mechanical skills but will save hundreds of dollars over a dealer doing it.
Checking and replacement of your sacrificial anodes. These are silver colored metals in various shapes and sizes.
They are designed to erode away over the season so your drive system and wiring doesn’t. All you need is the year, make and model of your motor to take to west marine, online or order them through me. They are simple to install you just loosen some screws, pull the old one off and put the new one in its place.
If you have an inboard or an inboard/outboard engine….buy a spare v belt for it. It’s worth its weight in gold. But don’t get it from a marine dealer…save some$$ and write down the numbers off the belt and go to an auto parts store.
And check any fluid levels such as oil, gear oil, power steering fluid and antifreeze if equipped.
Check your bottom paint if you have it and access what needs to be done. Touchup, recoats, or complete sand down. Do some research on some of the new bottom paints..They have come a long way and have ablative formulas that don’t need a full recoat ever year, just light touch up maybe. If you want a safe way to pull the boat off the trailer to make bottom paintings easier or to do some service on your trailer let me know I can help you with that.
Go through all required USCG safety equipment and ensure you have your flares(that are not expired), noise making device- horn, whistle, proper PFD’s for everyone on board, throwable flotation etc.
In closing, try to go over these items this month so when the day comes around you want to hit the water, you won’t have a mad dash to get her ship shape.
And as always contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org