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Boating season kicks off this weekend: 3 things boaters get wrong with spring commissioning

by Scott Croft 25 May 17:29 UTC
Keeping an eye on your boat's sacrificial anodes may help identify stray current in the water. © Stacey Nedrow-Wigmore/BoatUS

You made it through your long to-do list of spring commissioning items and you're ready to go in the water this Memorial Day holiday weekend - the traditional kickoff to the summer boating season.

Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS) says don't forget these three often-overlooked steps that could bring your season to a screeching halt.

1. Don't get hosed. Aged hoses and fittings below the waterline are the single most common cause of sinkings – especially early in the season. Biggest culprits? Corroded fittings, old hoses, rusty hose clamps, leaking stuffing boxes, and split bellows (on inboard/outboard-powered vessels). Before launching, using a bright light and mirror to take a good look at all your hoses and bellows (drive and shift cable) to ensure they are in good condition. Hoses should fit snugly and be double-clamped where possible. Clamps tend to corrode on the bottom where it may be hard to see. Inspect thru-hulls for corrosion or cracking, and make sure seacocks operate easily so you can close them in an emergency. Immediately after launching, check everything again.

2. A matter of anodes: Much of the value of any recreational vessel is it's propulsion system and nearly every recreational vessel has anodes — or zincs — those bolted-on sacrificial chunks of metal (made from zinc, aluminum or magnesium) that protect the running gear from its own self-destruction in the form of galvanic corrosion. Don't forget to inspect or replace anodes if necessary, and keep an eye on them over the season. The rate at which an anode deteriorates may indicate stray current in the water.

3. Yes, you did forget the plug: It's one of the most common mistakes made by boaters in the spring, most often at the launch ramp. In a recent survey of BoatUS members, more than 60% of the nearly 1,500 respondents admitted to forgetting to insert the drain plug at some point in their boating lifetime. Having a boat launch checklist can help - laminate it and use a snap ring to connect it to your boat ignition keys so you will always have it ready.

BoatUS has a range of Spring Commissioning information, including an essential checklist, here.

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