(If we can't fish, let's get our boat in top shape)
Man the winds are relentless or at least they are every time that I've tried to go fishing this past month. Some days during the week it's calm and a tad bit overcast, but let the weekend come around and Mother Nature seems to feel the need to clear her lungs.
It's not all bad though. The tides have the bays full and the water temperature has finally reached a level where a person can wet wade without feeling the need to scream when they first get in the water.
For me, the winds that keep me off the water allow me to go over the gear that I'll be using steadily for the next 7 or 8 months and it gives me time to order parts that I might need or to replace things that are near the end of their usefulness.
So not in any particular order, here are just a "few" things that I've been doing that you might want to take care of at your house as well:
- Check the batteries in your boat and replace if need be. If you find a battery that has lost its charge over the winter months don't try to charge it, get rid of it and get a new one. Even if you've been using your boat during the winter months, check the dates and if need be swap out the old for something new.
- Change the lower unit oil in your outboard. When you remove the drain plug look at the magnet that is on the plug and take note of the metal filings. If they're large or if there are too many take it to an outboard mechanic and see what he thinks. If the oil looks milky when it first drains out then you have some water in the lower unit and you need to have the seals checked. Again, take it to an outboard mechanic and get it fixed right.
- Change the fuel filter or fuel/water separator in your boat.
- Replace the spark plugs in your outboard and clean up the power head by wiping it down with a clean rag and a silicone-based cleaner-lubricant. Check the hoses and wires under the cowling while you're in there and note any cracks or frays. If you find them, have them replaced. Also if you have a stern light mounted on top of your cowling, check it and make sure it works while you have the cover off.
- Check the fluid level in your hydraulic steering if you have it and add to it if necessary. Check for leaks and hoses that might need to be replaced.
- Check the fluid level for your hydraulic jack plate and add to it if necessary. Check it for leaks and hoses that might need to be replaced.
- While you're checking things at the stern, take a look at the drain plugs and bilge pumps if you have them. If the rubber on the plugs is cracking or has worn smooth, replace them. If the pump won't turn on, replace it.
- Move up to the center console and check the electrical panel. Look for any corroded wires or contacts and clean or replace as needed. Make sure that all of the switches work when turned on and off.
- Check your bow lights.
- Test your power trim and tilt, jack plate and steering.
- Make sure your required safety items are onboard and that they are in working order and have not exceeded any expiration date they may have. If any of your PFD's have tears or are in bad shape, replace them.
- Check your boat and drift anchors. Does the chain or rope need to be replaced on the boat anchor? How's the knot holding up? Is the drift anchor still in good shape and the rope not damaged?
- Test the electronics. Your radio, GPS, compassdo they all work? What? You got rid of your compass when you got a GPS? You might want to rethink that one. The compass will work without batteries and without satellite communication and when Mr. Murphy comes to pay a visit that compass will get you home.
- Don't forget to check and make sure that the TP&W sticker is current and that you have the required paperwork on board. Also make sure that if you have vinyl TX numbers that they're all there and that they are legible.
- Check the eyebolt on the bow that your winch hooks to. Make sure that it is tight that the nuts that hold it in place are in good shape.
- Check your winch cable, line or strap and make sure that it's good for another summer.
- If you haven't replaced your trailer bearings in two years or so now would be a good time to do so. I make it a point to replace mine every other year, but then we keep them greased via the Bearing Buddies both before a trip, during a trip and after a trip. If the Bearing Buddies need replacing then by all means replace them.
- Check the springs, hangers and axles on your trailer as well as the lug nuts on the wheels. Replace things that have rusted to the point of no return and make sure that you will be able to get a lug wrench onto the lug nuts if you have to. If they're rusted too badly the wrench won't grab and you'll find a trip delayed while you sit on the side of the road and watch others drive by.
- Check the trailer lights and trace the wires that lead from the front to the rear down the trailer frame. Make sure that none of the wires have rubbed through during those many trips down the highway. Check for rust behind the lenses on the lights themselves and replace the lights if need be.
- Check the trailer tires for cracks or uneven wear and replace any that need replacing. Make sure the spare is in good shape and that if it is locked on a mounting bracket that you have the key to remove it.
Take care of your equipment and it will take care of you so get it done before school is out and you find yourself short on time.
You'll be glad you did.