How-To Guide

How to Get Your Pontoon Boat Ready for Summer

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How to Get Your Pontoon Boat Ready for Summer

Before you can truly kick off the summer boating season in style, here are the most important steps you should take to ensure that your pontoon continues to live a full, robust aquatic life.

Inspect the exterior
1

Inspect the exterior

Before you take the cover off, walk around the outside and look for cracks, punctures or holes. Repair any problem areas immediately, and if your seasonal cover is showing signs of aging consider replacing it with a new cover for the next off-season. Give the exterior a quick rub-down to remove any cobwebs and dust, and re-insert your pontoon drain plugs if you took them out before winter storage.


Check and clean the hull and interior
2

Check and clean the hull and interior

Remove the cover and look for any signs of pests and rodents, as they are very adept at getting in and nesting. Clear away any dirt or debris that crept in and spray a protective coat such as 303 Protectant on plastic, rubber and vinyl surfaces. That will help to revive faded colors and keep them looking sharp season after season. It’s also a good time to clean your Bimini top. Get rid of mold and mildew, and spray a similar protectant on it to prevent future build-up.


Charge and install the battery
3

Charge and install the battery

Before putting it back in the boat, charge up the battery. Whether you left it on a trickle charge over the winter or did not, give it either a full day or overnight to recharge. Double-check the acid levels and fill them up with distilled water if they are low. Then, test your battery, clean off any corrosion around the terminals, and install it back in your boat. Once installed, test all of your systems – lights, sounds, et cetera.


Perform engine maintenance
4

Perform engine maintenance

Follow the engine manufacturer’s de-winterization checklist if possible, along with these important steps. Check all the important parts, and replace anything you find that is damaged.

  • Spark plugs: Reconnect any that you disconnected and check that they are operational.
  • Motor oil: Change the oil because it has a tendency to get gunky in the cold winter months.
  • Fluid levels: Check the levels on the gear case oil, antifreeze, and power steering. If your boat has a hard time turning when it’s in the water for the first time, this could be due to a blockage in the steering tubes, which you might be able to flush with a steering tube brush.
  • Fuel system: Change the fuel filter at the beginning of each season. The fuel lines should feel firm with a bit of give. Go over any other exposed fuel components to make sure nothing has rotted.
  • Propeller: Check the boat propeller to make sure there is no missed tangled fishing line that you might have missed at the end of last season, and put a thin layer of grease on the shaft to keep the shaft and hub from corroding. Flush and drain the cooling system, replacing it with diluted coolant and equal parts water (50/50 mix). Alternatively, have an authorized dealer service your engine before and after storage. Use a product like WD-40 to protect fasteners, linkages and electrical panels, as this will help inhibit rust and corrosion.

Restock safety equipment and perform a safety check
5

Restock safety equipment and perform a safety check

Safety should be paramount at all times when on the water, so check all life jackets for holes, tears or small critters, and replace any that have been compromised or are no longer pliable. Restock your first aid kit, and throw away any expired items. Make sure you have a working fire extinguisher on board, and inspect your exhaust outlets for blockages to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. Give your anchor a once-over to make sure the chain or rope is in good condition and that it isn’t corroded. Wake up the neighborhood with a test honk of your emergency horn and check the location of your distress flag, especially if required by law in your area.


Examine and repair your trailer
6

Examine and repair your trailer

Unless you are one of the lucky ones with coastal or lake access, make sure your trailer is well-maintained so both it and your pontoon boat can survive the journey to and from the water. Lubricate the wheel bearings, winch, and tongue jack. Check the tires, turn signals, brakes, safety chains and tongue lock to make sure nothing has rusted and all lights are working correctly. If everything is good to go, then the only thing left to do is gather up friends and family and plan a fun day on the water!