Is it possible that summer gets too much credit? Sure, it’s when the sun shines the brightest and the weather is the warmest, but spring comes right after winter—which means spring is the most-anticipated boating season of the year. Especially in regions where winter snow and cold means no boating at all, spring boating is the best kind of boating. It’s the annual return to the joy of being out on the water.
Spring is also the season when boaters should be thinking about the marine version of “spring cleaning” (see our Spring Commissioning Checklist to find out more). No, there’s no onboard attic to empty of old boxes and junk, but there are a couple of things that should be handled every spring to ensure a great boating season for the rest of the year.
1. Inspect Your Onboard Equipment
First, spring is an ideal time to check the expiration date and condition of a variety of different types of safety equipment onboard.
- Visual signaling devices, like flares, expire after 42 months, which is just enough time to forget about them when it’s possibly time to be replacing them. The U.S. Coast Guard wants boaters to replace them on this 42-month cycle in case things like the casing are cracked, which means the flare won’t work in an emergency when it’s needed.
- The first aid kit aboard a boat should also get a thorough once-over every spring. Items that have expired—or that were used and never replaced—should be replenished before the boating season begins. Find out more by reading Marine First Aid Kits & Onboard Safety Guide.
- Spring is also a great time to check the condition of all the onboard life jackets, and to replace any that have outlived their usefulness. Life jackets, like anything else, get old, get holes and need to be thrown away when their lifespan ends.
On top of that, boaters with kids should use springtime to make sure the children’s life jackets still fit all the children. The time to find out that a child has outgrown a life jacket is long before you’re out on the water and actually need it.
2. Gear-Up for a New Season
Speaking of children outgrowing things on the boat, spring is also a great time to invest in some new toys. From water-skis to wakeboards and tube toys, having the right-size equipment for the family will make the entire boating experience easier, safer and more fun.
Perhaps the kids weren’t big enough for an inflatable banana last year, but this year, they’re ready. Or perhaps you had children’s size water-skis, and your teenagers need a larger size. Spring is a great time to rotate out old toys and bring in the new.
3. Go Boating!
Of course, spring is also a great time to go boating! Many experienced boaters like to do mini-shakedown cruises each spring, to make sure that things like helm electronics are all still working properly—and that everyone who drives the boat remembers how to use all the features, buttons and dials.
A quick jaunt to a dock-and-dine restaurant (see Dock-and-Dine Basics: 5 Tips for Waterside Dining) or a favorite marina just up the coast can be terrific ways to reacquaint yourself with all things aboard your boat.
Similarly, spring is a great time to brush up on all kinds of boating basics. Lots of safe boating courses and on-water training opportunities are available to new boaters and experienced boaters who would like a once-over of the basics. There also are some great advanced courses for anyone who wants to expand his or her boating horizons.
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