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Most of us are antsy to get our boats back in the water after a long, cold winter. Some of you have even taken your boats to the southern parts of Illinois, or even as far south as Kentucky or Tennessee. But the important question is: is your boat really ready to be “on the water”? I’m guessing that it’s not. And the reason is that most of us are so ready to be back on the water, that we don’t really pay attention to the most basic of preparation steps. And most of the time, the places that we normally go won’t challenge our watercraft or us beyond our ability to respond. But don’t fool yourselves; in the event of an emergency or other “situation,” are you and your boat truly ready? Here are a few basics to consider before you even leave the garage.  rk

  • Make sure that your trailer hubs/bearings are properly greased.
    Maybe you didn’t have the time to get the bearings repacked last Fall, or maybe you didn’t think you needed to have it done. But if even a tiny bit of water has crept inside those hubs and been allowed to sit there over the winter, rust may have set begun to form. An ounce of prevention – and a few dollars spent now – will keep a hub from locking up and robbing you of valuable vacation time… and maybe worse.  Read my article about towing and trailering.

  • Make sure that your trailer/wiring connections are working properly.
    It’s a fairly simple task to check to make sure that the wiring harness and all the lights are still functioning properly. It’s also much less frustrating to find a problem before you hook up the boat on the morning of your long-awaited vacation… Read my article about towing and trailering.

  • Check the local laws of the lakes that you will be visiting.
    Are you sure that you have all of the necessary gear? Do you have a throwable life preserver, a working horn or air-horn, a valid registration and other necessary papers on-board the boat? And most importantly, do you have a means of signaling for help? This could be anything from a signal flare to a cell phone. If you get into trouble, you need a way to call for help.  Boating Regulations by state

  • Have you purchased you fishing license yet?
    Take some time on one of these dreary and cold late Spring days and purchase or renew your license on-line. All you have to do then is to stow it in a waterproof container in your boat. The DNR needs to actually see the license, so it’s better in your tackle box or boat than back at the cabin!  Get your state license online.
  • Check your starting and trolling batteries.
    Unless you have the ability to store your boat with an intermittent charger, or you had the foresight to disconnect and take the batteries out of your boat, they may be totally discharged. It’s no fun to get 500 or 600 miles north and hop into the boat… only to find dead batteries. Even if there is a store nearby, chances are that the price of the batteries and the down time will cause a little unnecessary “boater’s rage”.  Read my article about boat batteries.

  • Check to make sure your insurance is up-to-date.
    Take a few moments to make sure the amount of coverage you currently have is accurate.  Now is also a good time to compare rates and possibly get another quote.  Read my article about boater's insurance.

I hope that these few, simple bits of advise will help to make your vacation/fishing trip a more enjoyable one and a safer one too.

R. Karl




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