Our Spring Launch Guide is designed to help you get your boat ready for another season of on-the-water fun. Use this list as a general guide, the actual work required to get your vessel ready for launch will depend on where you use it, its size, manufacturer, type, and the systems on board.
If you wintered out of the water, take care of everything below the waterline while you have access.
Inspect props for any damage and pitting.
If you have an inboard engine, grip the prop and try moving the shaft up and down and side to side. If it feels loose, the cutless bearing may need to be replaced.
Apply anti-fouling paint to all underwater running gear, (except where you will be attaching sacrificial anodes), and follow the preparation and application instructions from the manufacturer.
Replace the sacrificial anodes. Learn which anode material is best for your boat and cruising grounds Here.
Examine the hull, looking for blisters, distortions, and cracks. Scrape off loose paint, sand, and prepare the bottom for antifouling paint. The amount of preparation required will depend on the condition of the hull. Refer to our Hull Prep Guide for suggestions, and always follow the instructions from the paint manufacturer.
Apply antifouling bottom paint to your hull. The type of paint you choose to use will depend on how and where you use your boat. Learn more about your bottom paint choices from our Bottom Paint Guide. For tips on bottom paint application refer to our Hull Prep Guide, and always follow the instructions from the paint manufacturer.
After a winter layup seacocks may be hard to open and close, exercise them by opening and closing and lubricating as needed. Click Here for seacock lubricant.
Your next step is to work on everything above the waterline.
Start with a simple wash using boat soap, water, and a soft bristle brush to remove salt and loose debris. The next step in making your boat shine depends on the material of your hull and deck.
If your hull is finished with gelcoat, the condition of the surface will determine how much work is needed to restore the color and shine. Light stains or oxidation may be handled with a single application of cleaner wax. Dull, chalky, heavily oxidized hulls may require additional restoration processes. Refer to our Hull Prep Guide for suggestions on making your fiberglass surfaces look their best, and Click Here to shop cleaners and waxes.
Teak decks require special care and the type of products you use will depend on if you finish your decks or if you prefer the more classic silvery gray of a naturally weathered teak deck.
Varnished teak ‘brightwork’ needs special attention each spring to keep it in bristol condition. Check out some helpful varnishing techniques Here. A selection of varnishes and wood finishes can be found Here.
Inspect canvas dodgers, biminis, enclosures, and awnings. Repair any loose stitching and lube all the zippers. Clean and polish the glass windows.
After a winter layup seacocks may be hard to open and close, exercise them by opening and closing them and lubricating them as needed. Click Here for seacock lubricant.
Inspect the bilge area for fluid leaks and test bilge pumps and high-water switches and alarms. Click Here for a selection of bilge pumps.
Check the batteries and replace them if needed. Use a battery tester or multimeter to check the amps and volts and clean and coat the posts with waterproof grease. If your batteries are wet cells, top them off with distilled water. Ensure the battery is correctly secured to the boat so it will not come loose in rough seas. To learn more about the different types of marine batteries, Click Here for our battery guide, and Click Here to shop for new batteries.
Test smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, LPG, and gasoline fume detectors. Shop detectors Here.
Inspect fire extinguishers and replace them if they are over 12 years old. Shop fire extinguishers Here.
Check the inspection date and condition of LPG/CNG tanks and replace them if necessary. Shop LPG / Propane tanks and accessories Here.
Test all navigation/running lights. Click Here to shop for navigation lights.
Test the VHF radio, GPS, AIS, compass, speed/depth instruments, and any other marine electronics on board.
If you have a freshwater system on board, drain the winterizing antifreeze before using it, pressurize the system, and open each faucet/shower head one at a time until freshwater flows including the transom and anchor wash faucets. To freshen up the water and make it smell and taste better you can introduce treatments to the water system, for best results be sure to follow the directions carefully. Replace any in-line filters at this time.
Lubricate manual heads.
Inspect your engine for worn belts, and cracked or loose hoses.
Check hose clamps for corrosion. Hoses below the waterline should be double-clamped with stainless steel clamps.
Check all fluid levels: engine oil and gear oil, transmission, power steering, trim and tilt, and coolant.
Check fuel filters to be sure no water is present and replace them if needed.
Check and replace spark plugs if they weren't changed during winterization.
Air filters should be cleaned or replaced if required.
Now is a good time to check water pump impellers, if the vanes are cracked or distorted, replace them.
Replace engine zincs
Check all In-line strainers to be sure they are clean, free of debris, and securely mounted.
Get your sailboat ready for another sailing season.
Inspect all your running rigging for wear. Shop running gear Here.
Check your standing rigging for broken strands, and cracked or rusted terminals.
Check the rigging tension at the dock and underway. Shop rigging tension gauges Here.
For peace of mind that your mast and rigging are ready for the upcoming season you might consider having it inspected by a professional rigger.
If the winches on your sailboat haven’t been serviced in more than 5 years or they just don’t sound right, disassemble, clean, and grease them, (only use oil on the pawls). If the pawls and springs are worn they should be replaced. Click Here for winch parts and service kits.
Before you head out on the water, make sure your safety gear is up to date.
Make sure you have a life jacket for each person on board. If you have inflatable PFDs, test the jackets before the start of the season by inflating the bladder using the manual inflation tube to assure the bladder will hold air. Check the expiration date on automatic inflation mechanisms or components. Be sure each inflatable jacket has a charged cylinder, and carry extras. Assure the “bobbin” tablet is replaced every 2 years. Shop for PFDs Here.
Be sure you have current dated US Coast Guard-approved day and night signals on board as required by the size of your vessel by the US Coat Guard. Shop for Flares and Distress Signals Here.
For boats under 16 feet in length: Distress signals are only required when operating between sunset and sunrise. If operating at night, one electric distress light or three combination day/night red flares are required.
For boats 16 feet in length or greater: One orange distress flag and one electric distress light - or - three hand-held or floating orange smoke signals and one electric distress light - or - three combination day/night red flares; hand-held, meteor or parachute type.
Some type of sound-producing device (horn, bell, whistle) is required to be on board for safety and navigation. Shop horns and whistles Here.
All boaters should carry a first aid kit. If you already have a kit on board, check to see what needs to be restocked or added. Check out our selection of first aid kits Here.
Whether you use your trailer twice a season, to launch in the spring and to haul out in the fall, or every weekend, you need to be sure it is road ready.
Inspect tire treads and sidewalls for cracks and check the tread depth, replace tires if necessary.
Check and tighten lug nuts.
Check the air pressure in all tires, including the spare.
Inspect the wheel bearings and repack them as necessary.
Test all lights and replace any broken bulbs or lenses.
Be sure the winch is working properly.
Inspect the hitch and chains.
Check the trailer frame and axle(s) for rust, and if needed sand and paint to prevent further deterioration.