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Spring Boat Launch Checklist

Updated on April 30, 2013

Preparing Your Boat For The Summer

A spring prep and checklist for your boat means more than cleaning up the deck and making sure your life preservers and safety equipment is in good order. It should also mean a proper tune-up for your boat’s engine, and a careful going over the boat’s electrical system, propellers and hull

If your engine conks out in the middle of a small inland lake, it’s going to be pretty embarrassing to yell to friends on shore to come out and give you a tow. If it conks out on a somewhat bigger lake, say, Lake Michigan, with a spring storm on the horizon, you’d better hope you properly checked your safety equipment. Even if you did, that may not be enough to get you to shore safely.

If you laid up your boat for winter, it’s going to take some work to re-commission your boat to make sure everything is literally back in ship shape. Whether you have an inboard or outboard motor, take the time and get your hands dirty to tune up the engine right. It can save you some frustrating moments and embarrassments later on, and maybe save even more.

Inboard Engine


Inboard Engines

Just as with your car engine, change the oil and filters in your boat’s engine, and check the fuel filter as well, changing it if necessary. Having extra filters onboard during the boating season can come in handy if the filters clog up on you.

Check your cooling system and change the coolant if necessary. Again, keeping extra coolant onboard is a good idea.

Check your transmission fluid and the tension on the engine belts. Clean the engine’s backfire flame arrestor and water strainer, and check the impeller and bilge blower.

Fuel System, Hoses and Cables

Inspect for leaks or damage in the fuel system, especially in fuel hoses, connections and fuel tank surfaces. Hoses can become brittle over winter, so look for any damage, including brittleness, cracking or undue softness. Verify all fittings and clamps are secure. Cables can also become brittle over winter, so check them for cracks.

Outboard Motor


Outboard Motors

Before you take your boat out in spring, replace the spark plugs on your outboard motor, and check plug wires for wear. Change the gear lube, inspect fuel lines, primer bulb and tank for leaks and lubricate moveable parts. Take not of any outboard motor parts that may need to be replaced.

Electrical System

Inspect electrical connections for corrosion which are a safety hazard. Remove terminals and clean with a wire brush. Clean the cable ends as well. Test your battery to be sure it can hold a charge and change if necessary.

Propeller Inspection

Propellers and Hulls

Look for dings, cracks, pitting and distortions in the props, which can cause vibration and damage to a boat’s drive train. Check to be certain the propeller is secured properly, and replace bearings as needed. Look for blisters, distortions and cracks in the hull. Clean the hull, deck and topsides with an environmentally safe cleaning solution.

Safety Gear

Be sure your life jackets are in good condition and there enough on board for all passengers you may carry on your boat, with the correct size life jacket for the body weight of each potential passenger. Check that all onboard fire extinguishers are the correct class for your boat, are charged and stowed properly.


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