Last week I shared tips for a successful fishing season, but I know that fishing is not the only thing that brings people out on the water. Regardless of how you use your boat, here is some advice for getting your boat ready for the summer.

If you are a smart boat owner, you had your boat winterized last fall. If your boat was not winterized, it’s important to get a complete tune-up. I’ve seen boaters get their boat started on the ramp, only to get to the middle of the lake and have their motors stop. Always make sure you have a plan for getting back to the shore; this could be as sophisticated as a trolling motor or as simple as an oar. Trust me, it’s a long swim back, especially if you’re in the middle of a big lake!

But before you make it to the boat launch, you should check so see if your battery is charged for a good start. Also, if old gas was left in the tank over the winter, be sure you use a stabilizer and fresh gas to prevent buildup in your gas lines and fuel carburetor or injection system that can cause engine failure.

I’ve also seen unlucky boat owners wait in line to get their boat in, only to find themselves on the ramp where their motors won’t turn over. To prevent this situation from becoming even more frustrating, keep your boat on the trailer and submerge the motor to make sure it will start. You don’t want to have to manually winch it back on the trailer. Also, since you are backing your trailer into the water, it’s a good idea to unplug the lights for your trailer.

Last, and definitely not least, it is often forgotten when boaters are eager to get on the lake, to verify that the drain plug is put back in and that the bilge pump is working. This can mean the difference of cruising the lake or slowly sinking to the bottom. Also, remember to check to see if your license and registration are up to date and don’t forget to have enough life jackets for everyone on board.

I hope these tips keep your summer boating mishap free! Happy boating!