Many boat owners are sad that for so many months of the year, boats are just sitting in driveways or boat yards. But never fear, because these foul-weather months are the best time to get watercraft ready for action when the weather brightens up later.
So instead of using the good boating weather for making upgrades, use down time to install new equipment, repair old equipment and getting your boat ship-shape for next season.
Here are some tips for using bad weather for the good of your boat. Let's start preparing for boating season!
The most vulnerable thing on your boat is the fuel system. Preparing your boat for spring begins at the end of the boating season when discussing the fuel system. The most aggressive enemy of your boat is ethanol-blended gasoline. This fuel has a pump label designating it as E10 and is the only ethanol blend you can legally use in a boat. Higher blends are available in some states and carry labels that say either E15 or E85. Both blends are the same – fifteen percent of the fuel is ethanol. Federal law restricts it to use in cars and trucks made after 2001.
However, E10 fuel does enough damage if left in a boat fuel tank. Ethanol blended gasoline has alcohol in it. Alcohol is very corrosive chemical and can cause damage to fiberglass fuel tanks and corrode plastic and metal parts in the fuel system along with causing damage to seals and tubes. Experienced boaters always use a fuel stabilizer additive. E10 fuel allows your gas to absorb water and gas older than 30 days can absorb enough water to cause the fuel, ethanol, and water to separate. This is fuel phase separation and it’s irreversible. But it is preventable by running with a fuel stabilizer. Quality fuel stabilizers not only prevent fuel phase separation and fuel from going stale early, it also counters the harmful effects of ethanol fuel in the area of corrosion of fuel tank parts. The engines also run smoother and start easier with a fuel stabilizer added.
If you did not use a non-alcohol based fuel treatment before winter, drain your fuel tank of all gas. Inspect all hoses, seals, and other metal and plastic parts and replace parts that are hard, cracked or unusually soft. Make sure to clean fuel injectors and carburetors of a gummy substance called varnish – if you do not do this, your engine will clog up and be hard to start and run rough if at all.
Other Prepping Tips
Hoses, Cables and Belts
All of these can become brittle, crack or soften while in storage and fail when you take your boat out. Make sure belts are tight around pulleys. Worn belts often have a black substance by the pulley and need immediate attention.
Boats have fluids other than fuel that are critical to proper running. Check the power steering, engine oil, power trim reservoirs, and engine coolant. When getting ready for spring, change the engine oil, oil filter, and all drive lubricants if you did not do these tasks before winter storage.
Check that all connections are tight and charge your battery. Make sure your battery holds a charge. Have your electrical system inspected by a certified technician once a year.
Boat enthusiasts know that keeping a vessel in top condition takes work. Much of that work is avoidable by making sure to run your boat with fuel stabilizer added to the tank. Always store your boat with fuel stabilizer as well.
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This post was published on April 14, 2014 and was updated on April 15, 2021.