Once spring arrives, you’re probably feeling the urge to pull out the pontoon and get out onto the water. As a new owner, your first task will be to perform spring maintenance. Even if the boat had been winterized, after being idle all winter, you want to ensure it’s safe for launch. Don’t start your season by inadvertently overlooking any potential problems that might leave you stranded on the water.
Inspect your pontoon’s exterior
Remove your boat’s cover and look for any dents, damage, or signs of leakage in the hull. When examining your boat’s exterior, carefully check your bimini top, along with any other vinyl or canvas items for mildew, dirt, cracks, tears, or animal droppings. Remember, even with winterized boats, critters sometimes burrow their way through. Be sure to look for any signs of their presence. If you find any tear damage, repair it, along with cleaning out all crevices.
Prepare the engine
Next, take a good look at your boat’s engine for any leaks, dents, or damage. If anything looks to be in disrepair, you’ll want to investigate these issues and address them.
- Carefully inspect the boat’s fuel line for any cracks that may have occurred over the winter.
- Perform an oil change and change the filter.
- Examine all engine belts to ensure they are tight enough and don’t have any cracks.
- Check cooling system and replace antifreeze. (If it hadn’t been flushed it in the winter, do that now and drain).
- Look for any signs of rot or leaks in the cooling system’s hoses.
- Ensure your battery is fully charged. (If not, give it at least a day to be fully charged before you take it out on the water.)
Don’t inadvertently overlook your steering. It’s normal for steering to be a little stiff after a winter’s slumber, but you want to identify any problems before you launch. If your wheel doesn’t turn, don’t force it, there may be some hard grease creating a blockage – remove the steering cable, clean the steering tube out with a steering tube brush, regrease it, and replace.
Clean your pontoon’s interior
Once you’ve got your engine and other mechanisms in place, turn an eye to your pontoon’s interior. Clean out any leaves, dirt, dust, or any debris left from the fall season. Vacuum your carpets, seat cushions, and any other vinyl or canvas surfaces. If you find some mildew, scrub it out.
Keep in mind, mildew often comes back. To avoid this problem in the future, invest in seat material with anti-microbial treatment or made of anti-fungal material, and protect your seats with quality seat covers.
Pack your necessities
You’re almost ready to launch, but before doing so make sure you pack any necessities, including those required by law and any items to make your trips more pleasant. Check local regulations to ensure you don’t forget anything.
- Boat registration and insurance
- Life jackets for each passenger (inspect before launching)
- Flares and distress flags
- Portable battery charger
- Fully stocked first aid kit
- Charged cell phone
- Paddles (in case of engine failure)
- Tool kit
- Extra rope
- Navigational system
Other helpful items include extra clothes, sunscreen, hand sanitizer, marine radio, fishing gear, tubes, or other recreational objects.
Inspect your trailer
Before you head out to the water, remember to inspect your trailer. Make sure all signal lights work and tires have air. Even if the tires look good, check the tire pressure to ensure it’s correct. Add lubricant to wheel bearings where needed.
Once all looks to be in order, before you launch your first trip of the season, give it a good wax and polish to help protect your boat’s exterior. Once this task is complete, it’s time to relax and focus on the fun!