In many places across the state of Minnesota the lakes ice free, and that sets us up for a nice long season on the water. Boaters and fisherman are scrambling to take advantage of the all time early ice out, but there are a few things I want to remind of before you head for the ramp.
- Check all hoses and lines to guarantee they are installed and clamped properly. Give the engine a good once-over to ensure that nothing looks out of place, and everything is where it belongs.
- Put the earmuffs on the engine and perform an engine start and evaluation on dry land. Again, you are looking for water spraying into the engine room and most importantly WATCH THAT TEMP GUAGE. Impellers have a way of drying out and cracking or breaking over the winter layup.
- Check all fluid levels, and add accordingly. Pull the dipstick just to be sure the engine oil looks good and if you mix gas and oil via a reservoir, top that off with good TCW3 outboard oil.
- Closely examiner the area beneath your prop and outdrive. If there is an oil slick or any indication of leakage you may have bad drive shaft seals. This repair should be done before your boat goes back in the water. New seals are much cheaper than a new lower unit.
- Give a good look to your onboard fire extinguisher. Make sure it is properly charged and not showing any abnormal wear and/or tear.
- Check all PFD’s and throwable devices for rips, tears, and mold. Replace any or all life jackets or safety devices that are worn and beyond repair.
- Give all the onboard batteries a good full charge.
- Check the bearings or bearing buddies on your trailer and add grease if necessary.
- Guarantee all trailer lights are working, including the turn signals and hazard lights.
- And last not but not least, and maybe counter-intuitive, leave all the plugs out until you reach the ramp. In Minnesota it is now illegal to travel down the road with hull or live well plugs in position.
It is the duty of all boaters to keep invasive species in check. Don’t spread them around.
Now go have a great season on the water!