What's Biting Report: Preparing Your Boat for the Season
There’s been a few warm spells that signal that the winter doldrums might be on the way out, and any angler will start to get the itch to hit the water again.
However, because the boat has been stored for the bad weather, it’s wise to take at least a day or so to make sure everything is in working order and won’t leave you dead in the water.
Many people use boat covers, especially those without carports or garages. The boat covers are great for keep the worst weather other, but if the cover hasn’t been removed several times during the winter to let the boat air, you’re probably going to have some mildew and/or mold issues to deal with.
Pull the cover, inspect, and then use a solution that contains a percentage of bleach to get rid of the green and gray growth. After the hull has been cleaned inside and out, it’s time to move to the electrical system.
Hopefully, you’ve removed the batteries and moved them into the garage. If not, the next best thing is to have a trickle charger(s) hooked up to the batteries to make sure they are ready to go in the spring. It is not good on a battery to sit discharged for any length of time.
When the battery is fully charged, re install and start checking all the switches and connectors. Corrosion can cause switches to fail. Change out those switches that have failed or have intermittent connections. Be sure to check your bilge pump to make sure you can get rid of any unwanted water.
Next up is the power in the form of the outboard or inboard motor. If you didn’t change the oil in your four-stroke motor before you stored it for the winter, go ahead and change the oil and filter. Many outboards are also four-stroke these days. For the two-stroke outboards, make sure there is plenty of two-stroke oil in the reservoir if it an oil-injected motor or mixed with the fuel if not.
Speaking of fuel, gas with ethanol wreaks havoc on marine vessels and outdoor equipment. Storing gas with ethanol in your tank without some sort of fuel stabilizer can mean trouble in the spring. Check all hoses and connectors to make sure ethanol hasn’t caused a problem. The best alternative is to buy “boat” gas without ethanol. It’s higher but worth it for boat owners.
If there’s any question about the last time the spark plugs were changed, go ahead and get two sets. Get one set to install right now and the other set to be stored in the boat tool box in case you foul plugs during an outing later in the year.
Moving on to the out-drive, check the lower unit oil if it wasn’t changed last fall. If it is at all milky looking, change it. If the water impeller hasn’t been changed in a couple of years, you probably ought to add that to the list as well.
Of course, if you’re uncomfortable performing any of these maintenance jobs, there are plenty of marine facility along the Alabama Gulf Coast that will take care of that for you. Just don’t wait too late and have to get in a waiting line and miss some good early fishing.