Preparing Your Silver Streak Boat for Boating Season
Posted on: May 18, 2017
Let’s face it, Winter was long, and lingering. If you’re like most boaters, you have probably been pacing and counting down the days for weeks now. Yup, we boaters can hardly wait until we can get our powerboats in the water again. Now the wait is over. Spring has finally sprung and it is finally time to prepare for the west coast summer boating season.
But don’t be in too much of a hurry. Before you even think about hooking the trailer to the back of the pickup and hauling your boat to the boat ramp, invest some time in the proper safety and maintenance of your boat. To help you get started, we’ve prepared a checklist. Your preparation should include the following:
1. Inspect and count your life jackets.
Safety First! Check your life jackets and personal flotation devices (PFD’s) over to make sure they are free from any defects and that they still fit (hey, winter was long, we may have enjoyed one or two extra winter ales this year). You need one for every person who will be on your boat at any given time. If you will be allowing children onto your boat, be certain that you have the right sizes for them, and they probably grew since the last time you used them, so double check they fit the kids too. You should also have a sufficient number of throwable floatation devices (e.g. cushions or lifebuoys) to comply with Canada’s “Small Vessel Regulations” publication. The exact regulations vary by the size of the boat so be sure to check out the regulations for your boat.
2. Survey the hull.
Clear away any debris and look for any damage your boat may have suffered. Do this before launching the boat. It is easier to examine the boat while it is out of the water and you can walk around it. Plus, a cracked hull is not a discovery you want to make after your boat is already in the water. You should also confirm that all plugs are installed and in good condition. Of course this is more of a concern with fiberglass boats, with an aluminum boat like a Silver Streak you should have far less hull maintenance necessary, but be sure to check those plugs and sounders etc and their gaskets. It’s also a good time to replace any Zinc’s on your boat, that way you know they’re done for the season.
3. Verify your license and/or registration.
Boats that are fifteen gross tons or less that are also powered by one or more motors that total ten horsepower or more must be either licensed or registered. Boats that exceed fifteen gross tons must be registered. Obtaining a license for your boat is easier and less costly, but it does not prove ownership. Having your boat registered does authenticate the owner. Application forms for both are available from a Transport Canada office or online. Documentation must be kept on board, and the boat must display the appropriate markings.
In addition to the licence or registration for the boat itself, Transport Canada requires “all operators of pleasure craft fitted with any type of motor and used for recreational purposes to carry proof of competency on board.” This may include obtaining a Pleasure Craft Operator Card (free and valid for ten years), a certificate of competency (or a training certificate), or proof that prior to April 1999 you successfully passed a course in boating safety.
4. Check your fire extinguishers.
Are they accessible and in good working order? If not, then have them recharged or replaced. Refer to the “Small Vessel Regulations” to verify how many extinguishers you should have on your particular boat.
5. Examine the fuel lines.
Fuel lines can weaken or crack with age, especially during a harsh Canadian winter. Verify that your fuel lines are in good condition and that they are properly connected. Replace any damaged lines.
6. Fill and check the fuel tanks.
You do not want to run out of gas while on this year’s maiden voyage! Fill the main tank, and don’t forget to fill the reserve tank, too. If your tank was stored for winter less than 100% full, you may have built up water condensation in your tank that could permanently damage your motors. If you’re concerned this may have happened, have a mechanic inspect your tanks before you startup your engine. A $100 call out could save you thousands in motor repairs.
7. Start the engine.
Check to see that it is functioning properly and that the battery is charging correctly. If necessary, replace the battery and have a mechanic address any other concerns. In our next post we’ll discuss how to choose a good boat battery, so look out for that article in the near future.
8. Test the electronics.
Repair any cracked or worn wires and replace any defective lights. While you’re at it, you should also test the binge pump, the radar, the sounder, your GPS system, and your radio – the vhf one, not the stereo, although that IS important for any day in the sun on the water.
9. Evaluate the condition of all ropes.
Include any sports, towing, or anchoring equipment in your inspection. Sun, cold, snow, water and wind all degrade ropes very quickly, so don’t assume your boat lines are good because you got them last year, they may not be. Better to give them a quick inspection now.
10. Restock your emergency supplies.
Is your first aid kit ready? Hopefully you won’t need it, but don’t take that chance. Ensure that you have a good supply of bandages, tape, and gauze stored in a waterproof container. You should also keep a supply of emergency blankets onboard. A toolkit is another essential. Include screwdrivers, wire cutters, a flashlight, and a knife coated with petroleum jelly to protect the blade from being damaged by salt water. An often overlooked safety item is a space blanket. These small, thin, light and cheap items are easy to find, and can be the difference between hypothermia and a chill.
Beyond this basic do-it-yourself list, your local marina or yacht club may assist you with additional services. You could also hire a mechanic or ask the Canadian Coast Guard to perform a courtesy safety inspection.
It’s going to be a record boating season this year, so get ready for some fun in the sun, just be safe out there and have a wonderful time everyone!