Oh wow! Here I am, thinking of spring on this Sunday afternoon in February. It is 75 degrees. I wish I were on the lake. Whether you are a late winter/early spring angler or you will be DE-winterizing your boat in April or May, here is what you should do to get your boat ready for the season. (If you DE-winterize early, make sure you keep an eye on your engine for freezing temperatures in the late winter-early spring months).
Let’s see how well you winterized your boat in the fall…Uncover your boat, clean out all the leaves and mothballs (that is, if you followed my directions in the fall). Go ahead and put fresh fuel in your boat. Remember, fuel that contains ethanol (made from sugar alcohols) is not recommended for your engine. I know boats and beer go really well together, but engines should not become alcoholics!
Hook up the water hose to the motor. Always fasten the flusher with a bungee cord to the lower unit. Otherwise, when you walk off to grab a tool, you will find the hose lying on the ground when you come back. That will hurt your heart.
Pump the fuel bulb on the outboard and pump the throttle on the inboard/outboards. Choke the outboards, unless the engine is fuel injected. If your engine is fuel injected, just turn the key. Nothing? Well, you probably forgot to charge the battery and check for the correct water level. It will likely take a while to crank the oil injected outboards. Just keep choking it! I have had to keep choking some motors for up to an hour to keep them running. Everything running now? No? Oops! Did you forget to stabilize the fuel or stabilize the fresh fuel? Here is a little tip: before tearing into the carburetor, pour a bottle of Techron in 3 gallons of gas. Remember to add the correct ratio of oil to the gas mixture, if your engine is not oil-injected. Techron is usually available at Walmart. Run the motor from the gas/techron mixture, choking or pumping the throttle to keep it running. Use up to 2 gallons of gas/techron mixture, without running the engine out of fuel. Shut the motor off and wait 24 hours to restart. If it does not run well after an hour on the hose, you will have to go into the carburetor. This, however, is not for the faint of heart!
If trying to repair your carburetor overwhelms you, take it to a reputable boat service shop. There is a “stupid-tax” added to these repairs. The “stupid-tax” is for being too lazy to properly prepare your boat for winter. At this point, you should consider replacing the water pump impeller, which should be replaced every three years if you use your boat regularly.
Check your safety equipment: life jackets, bilge pumps, horns, and navigation lights. Are you ready to go? NO, wait! Check the bearings in the trailer! Jack the trailer up and spin the wheels…do you hear any rumble or growling? If so, replace the bearings and seals. Use plenty of grease. Air up the tires and LET’S GO TO THE LAKE!!
Note: Remember to always check your owner’s manual for detailed instructions for your particular motor!
Johnny M. Holden is the owner of John’s Boats, located in Pisgah Forest, NC. If you need help getting your boat ready for the water, give him a call!