Monday, May 30, 2011

Preparing for Boating Season - Do You Have a List?

By William L. Gills aka Bos'n Bill

One of the best parts of boating season is the anticipation of being back on the water on a clear day with a fresh breeze and good friends. When anticipation turns into reality you may once again be faced with an extraordinary list of things to do before "she" goes in the water and an equally extensive list of things to do before you can fully engage in the season without distraction. I personally enjoy this reintroduction to the boating season when I can again check off each task on a "to do" list, bringing me ever closer to that flight from the routine to the freedom of time and choice where you decide what to do, when and where to do it.

But first, you need to take a look at a typical checklist of boat prep essentials if you want to stay afloat, have propulsion, comfort and peace of mind. A look at my checklist revealed twenty-two out of the water and twenty-nine in the water "Spring" prep items. Your list may look different given the type of boat you own. In fact, yours may not look anything like mine if your not a list maker. If you're not accustomed to enumerating even the most essential of tasks, your going to forget something and it may put a hold on your season.

For me, the "labor of love" begins when your boat is on the trailer or on the jack stands when it's a good time to take care of the things that don't require you to be in the water; get them out of the way. You know, like the cleaning stuff: the vinyl, stainless steel frames and hardware, glass, bilge, lockers, cabin, scuppers, the hull and bulkhead. Then there's the pre-immersion stuff: installing zincs and battery(ies), checking the oil and transmission fluid levels and test running the engine. Most importantly, don't forget the bail plug!

In the water, check all your systems, safety equipments and deck lines. Systems like your lights, hot and cold water, steering, GPS, radar, VHF, blowers, bilge pumps and air-conditioning; safety equipment like your visual distress signals (are they up to date?), fire extinguishers, first aid kit, "whistles" (I call them horns), flashlights, handheld devices like GPS and VHF; deck lines, are they secure, will they need adjusting or readjusting?

Finally, when the last item is checked off, it's time. The moment you savor has arrived. Save the dinghy, outboard and gas you're ready to rock and roll on the body of water of your choice without concern for the mundane. Congratulations, you can now focus on the 3-P's: Pastime, Pleasure, Peace and repose.

William L. Gills aka Bos'n Bill is the author of the book, Lubber's Log published by Llumina Press; a boating primer and adventure story about a couples experiences in moving up to a bigger boat.  


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