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Boat Maintenance Tips

Posted on March 22, 2012

PRATT — March of 2012 has been a mild month, and anglers and recreational boaters are eager to get on the water. This means it’s time to prepare boats and trailers for a trouble-free boating season. The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) recommends the following simple steps so that your boat works properly and safely before launch. Not only will you have more fun, but you and your family will be safer.

Outboard motor
Replace the lower unit grease. Grease all zerks on the motor, and make sure the steering mechanism is lubricated and working smoothly. Clean or replace spark plugs. Check fuel lines. Remove the prop and check for nicks or gouges. Remove any old fishing line or weeds from shaft. Grease the shaft and replace the cotter pin on the shaft nut. You can start the motor in your driveway if you have a pair of motor muffs, which attach to a garden hose and force water into your motor’s water intake ports. Never start your motor dry. If your engine is oil injected, fill the oil reservoir and test the temperature warning signal device.

Trailer
Grease the wheel hubs. Check the tires for weathering and proper inflation. Check wire connections and make sure all lights work. Lubricate the trailer winch and check the winch strap for wear. Make sure the hitch is sound and safety chains are in place. Check the ball and tighten if necessary.

Batteries
Batteries should have been charged every 30 days throughout the winter. Inspect and clean all battery connections. Water levels should be checked in each cell, and batteries should be fully charged before the first trip. Check the batteries several days before a trip to make sure they are holding a charge.

Electrical gear
Check all bilge pumps and electrical gauges. Tighten any loose connections and secure wire harnesses.

Safety Gear
Inspect all life jackets and throwable cushions. They must be in good working condition to be legal. Be sure a sound-making device or working horn is on board. Test the boat lights, clean connections, and replace bulbs if needed. It's also important to make sure your boating registration is up to date.

In addition to these items, boaters should make sure drain plugs work and keep a spare on board. Other items should include first aid kit, anchor, paddle, tool kit, electrical tape and wire connectors, a variety of spare fuses, extra two-cycle oil, spare trailer light bulbs, and extra life jackets.

And don't forget boater education. Any person born on or after Jan. 1, 1989, must complete an approved boater safety education course in order to operate a motorboat or sailboat on public waters in Kansas. This requirement does not apply to a person accompanied by and under the direct supervision of a person age 17 or older who either possesses a certificate of completion of an approved boater safety education course or is legally exempt from the requirement.

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