End-of-Season Checklist for Boaters: Equipment Inspection

end of season checklist for boaters

With the days getting shorter and the air getting cooler, you may be planning to wrap up your boating activities until next spring. But, don’t haul your boat just yet. Now is the best time to repair or replace a variety of gear. In fact, since their condition is fresh in your mind, you may already have a mental list going. That same reason is why you should act now.

inspect your boat equipment

Ensure these five items are on your end-of-season checklist so that the next boating season starts straight away, safely and happily.

New Boat Owner's Off-Season Maintenance Checklist


1. Safety Equipment

First things first: safety gear. Ask yourself the following:

Are your fire extinguishers still in date? How about flares? U.S. Coast Guard regulations require these to be stamped with expiration dates. If yours are old, contact your local fire department, sanitation department, or town office to find out the rules for disposing of hazardous-waste materials.

Additionally, double check your first-aid kit and the integrity of throwable floatation devices, life jackets, and other related equipment.

  • Consider, too, whether your kids have outgrown their life jackets. When in doubt, replace them. You can donate gently used ones to the Sea Tow Foundation and other organizations.

Boat Safety Checklist & Safety Equipment List


2. Docking Lines & Fenders

How do your docking lines and fender lines look? Anything that appears grey and stiff or green (coated with algae) likely has seen better days. Chafing is the enemy of lines, too.

Even if everything is in good shape, make sure you keep some spares onboard. While you’re at it, check your anchor chain.

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off season boat equipment check

3. Marine Electronics

Prioritize replacing units related to communication (like your VHF radio, for example) and navigation if they didn’t work properly this past season. Then, decide if you’d like to add anything new to your helm.

For instance, if you became hooked on fishing, why not take the time to start shopping, and installing, a fish finder now? Besides, the marine installers might have more availability now than they will next spring, when everyone is re-launching at once.

Basic Boat Electronics for Beginners


4. Seat Cushions

Between sun, spray, and sunscreen, your boat's seat cushions take a beating.

  • Carefully inspect yours for mold or mildew, and give them the ol’ sniff test, too. Dispose of ones affected.
  • Also look for rips or tears.

A good marine-upholstery company can manufacture new ones for you. Make sure they come with snaps or other ways to secure them as well. The last thing you need to do the first day of the new season is to search the waters for cushions-turned-flying-objects.

How to Clean a Boat


boat equipment care and inspection

5. Watersports Equipment & Towable Toys

Now we’re talking the fun stuff! Just like with the other categories already mentioned, prioritize repairing or replacing damaged gear.

Next, what new watersports did you try but not accessorize for, and what activities do you want to try? Weigh what’s practical in terms of your onboard stowage space and the time you’ll devote to pursuing the passion.

Read Next: How to Winterize a Boat

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