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GET YOUR BOAT READY FOR THE SUMMER

As the weather gets warmer, boat owners are itching to get out on the water. And who could blame them, particularly in the Brazos River basin, with its beautiful lakes and rivers?

But not so fast -- just as we must take steps to protect our boats for the winter, there are several things to do to prepare for a return to water, and to promote the safety of your passengers.

De-winterize

When the weather turned cold, many boat owners took great care to secure their watercraft and protect them from the elements. Now that summer is here, there are many things you can do to keep that boat running well.

Here are a few suggestions:

  • Check your oil. Change the oil and the filter if you didn’t when you packed it up for the winter. Also be sure to check the oil in the outdrive.
  • Reattach the battery cables. If the terminals are corroded, clean them. Use a battery tester to check the volts and amps. If it needs it, charge the battery. If it will not hold a charge, buy a new battery.
  • Replace last year’s gas and make sure the tank is topped off to prevent condensation. Change the fuel filter. Check the fuel line to make sure it is attached and not cracked.
  • If you drained the coolant for the winter, replace it. If not, check levels for it and transmission fluid. Check hoses for cracks.
  • Remove and clean the distributor cap. Replace and make sure all connections work.
  • Test the engine while out of water if possible.
  • Tighten belts if needed. If the belts are not snug in their pulley grooves, they may be worn and need replacing.
  • Make sure navigation and cabin lights work. It is a good idea to have spare lights on board just in case.
  • Make sure all electrical components work, including the radio, bilge pump and horn. Change the spark plugs.
  • Check the rudder and shafts, the propeller, trim and anchor.
  • Inspect the hull and topside for any cracks, holes or other damage and repair when needed.
  • Also, if you own a larger boat that has toilet facilities, check that they are in working order. The Brazos River Authority supports the Clean Marinas and Clean Boater programs. To learn more about helping with this effort, click here.

Be safe and legal

Lifejackets or personal flotation devices are key to protecting yourself and your passengers – moreover, they are required by law. Make sure there are enough for everyone on board, and that children’s devices fit correctly. Check that they are not torn and that no parts are missing. For more information about state boat safety requirements, click here.

Make sure you have working fire extinguishers and that they are fully charged and not expired. Check your first aid kit and replenish any supplies that were used the previous year.

Getting stuck in the middle of the lake is not only inconvenient and frustrating; it can be a safety hazard. Make sure you have a set of tools and plenty of extra spark plugs and fuses in case you have to do some unexpected mechanical work.

One very important part of boat safety planning is receiving proper training. Make sure anyone who will be operating the boat has taken boater education courses. The state requires these for many boaters. For more information on these courses, click here.

Also, make sure to check that your state boater registration is up to date. If you are going to operate your watercraft on Possum Kingdom Lake, a Water Recreation User fee is required. For more information about state boating laws and registration, click here, and to learn more about Authority lake regulations, click here.

By taking a little extra time before putting your boat in the water this spring, you can go a long way towards making sure your outing is safe and fun.