How to Get Your Boat Ready For Summer – Your Ultimate Guide!

Getting excited to get out on the water for the season and need to know how to get your boat ready for summer? If so, you are in the right place. Whether you’re a novice or an advanced sailor, here you’ll find the best tips and advice to prepare your boat for the upcoming summer for a pleasant and safe boating experience.

If you’re a boat owner and want to enjoy the summer on the water, there are a few things you need to do to get your boat ready. Here’s a quick guide to help you prepare your vessel for the season ahead.
1 Check boat registration. 2 Prepare your boat’s engine. 3 Check the fuel system. 4 Check the electrical and battery system. 5 Check the water, hull, and propellers. 6 Check the safety equipment. 7 Get out on the water.

1. Check Your Boat Registration

Before venturing out on the water, take a moment to check the registration and make sure it’s valid.

Check the expiration date, and if it’s expired or about to expire, renew it before setting sail.

If you fail to renew your registration, you may face fines or penalties and may not be allowed to use your boat until the registration is current. 

2. Prepare Your Boat’s Engine

Spark Plugs

If you have applied fogging oil to winterize your outboard, make sure to unplug each spark plug and remove any oil residue from them.

Then, when you return from your first-day boat trip, unplug the spark plugs again, clean off any last marks of burned fogging oil, or replace them with new ones.

Keep in mind that even if you did not apply fogging oil on your outboard, you still need to follow the same procedure by cleaning or replacing the spark plugs.

Tip: If you’ve protected your outboard with fogging oil during winterization season, your motor will generate smoke from the exhaust when you run it for the first time. But don’t panic, as this is normal.


Belts are relatively affordable, and replacing them once a year is the best you can do to have a trouble-free boating trip. Those belts are essential in driving your boat’s alternator and water pump, depending on the model.

So if the belt show signs of wear, cracking, or fraying, don’t wait; replace it immediately. First, however, always check that the belt is properly adjusted and sits correctly in the pulleys.

If the belt is too tight, It will cause bearings and seals to wear out more quickly. On the other hand, if the belt is too loose, it will slip and won’t drive the alternator as it supposes to.

That’s why following the manufacturer’s recommendations when adjusting the belt tension is important.

Tip: Check the belt’s tension after the motor has been running for 10 minutes.


If your boat’s engine has a carburetor and you don’t have the skill or time to remove the parts, use a carburetor cleaner such as quicksilver power tune, B-12 Cheemtool, or Seafoam. These carburetor cleaning solutions will remove all the carbon buildup in your engine and carburetor.

To clean the carburetor properly, first:

  • Fill out the fuel tank.
  • Use one of the cleaners mentioned above and pour it into the fuel tank using a funnel.
  • Once done, start the engine and let it run for about 15 minutes. Then turn it off and let it cool down for about 5 to 15 minutes.
  • Repeat this procedure several times.

This will burn out all the carbon through the carburetor and clean everything in the motor.

PS: if you use this method, do it outside in an aerated place because the engine will generate a lot of smoke.

Fluids Level

Check all fluid levels in the engine, including engine oil, coolant, and hydraulic fluid.

Top off any low levels and replace any fluids that appear dirty or contaminated.

Regularly monitoring fluid levels ensures your engine performs at peak during the boating season.

3. Fuel System and Storage

Fuel Stabilizer

During winter storage, it’s common for fuel to degrade, leading to poor engine performance and potential damage. To fix this issue:

  • Add a fuel stabilizer to the tank before bringing your boat out of storage.
  • Run the engine for at least 15 minutes to allow the stabilizer to circulate throughout the engine and prevent varnish deposits from clogging fuel injectors and carburetors. 

PS: Apply this procedure in a well-aerated place, and if you can, wear a mask, as it will generate smoke.

 Drain Plugs

Ensure all drain plugs are properly installed to prevent water from entering the bilge and causing damage to the engine and other components. Check every drain plug for corrosion or damage, and replace them if necessary. 

Bilge Pump

Check if the bilge of your boat is working correctly.

  • First, turn on the bilge pump switch. Listen for any sounds coming from the pump, which should indicate that it is running.
  • Then, pour a bucket of water into the bilge to simulate a water leak. The pump should automatically turn on and begin pumping out the water.
  • Watch the water level in the bilge as the pump runs, and make sure that it is being removed at a steady rate.

If the water level does not decrease or the pump does not turn on, there may be a problem with the pump or its electrical connections. In this case, it is best to have a professional inspect and repair the bilge pump to ensure it functions properly. 

4. Electrical and Battery Systems


If you’ve removed the battery in the winter season, and took the time to recharge it once a month, then all you have to do is check if the battery works properly and pour some drilled water in the cells if necessary.

If you left the battery in your boat during the off-season, you’d have to remove and recharge it. Also, it would be a good idea to check if the terminals and connections are still in good shape and free of residues.

Don’t hesitate to take a little more time to clean the battery using a mixture of baking soda and water to remove any corrosion around the terminals. It’s worth it.

Navigation and Cabin Lights

Navigation and cabin lights are essential for safe boating, especially during the evenings and nights. Inspect all lights on your boat, making sure they are functioning correctly.

Replace any burned-out bulbs or damaged components whenever necessary.

When checking navigation lights, ensure they are bright enough to be visible from a distance and conform to regulations for your specific boat size and type.

5. Water System, Hull, and Propeller.


A damaged or improperly functioning propeller can lead to poor performance, decreased fuel efficiency, and even safety hazards.

Checking the propeller regularly can also help prevent potential damage to the engine or transmission.

If you notice any damage or issues with the propeller, it’s important to address them as soon as possible to prevent further problems and to keep your boat operating at its best.


The hull is the main structural part of the boat and protects the interior from water damage.

Regularly inspecting the hull for any cracks, scratches, or other damage is crucial to prevent further damage and maintain the safety and performance of your boat.

Check for any signs of wear, such as soft spots or bubbling, which can indicate water damage or delamination.

It’s also important to ensure the hull is clean and free of any marine growth or debris that can damage it over time. 

Water System

Preparing your boat’s water system is crucial to ensure a smooth and enjoyable boating experience. The first thing you should do is:

  • Turn on the freshwater pump and fill the tank with fresh water.
  • Then, turn on each faucet and shower to run the water until it is clear of any antifreeze or other winterizing chemicals.
  • Next, check all the hoses and connections for any leaks or damage and replace them if necessary.
  • It’s also a good idea to check the water heater if you have one and make sure it is functioning properly.
  • Once you’ve flushed and checked the system, sanitize it with a marine-grade water treatment product to kill any bacteria or other organisms that may have accumulated during the winter.

6. Safety Gear and Equipment

Life Jackets

Before you get out on the water, inspect life jackets for wear and tear, such as fraying straps or broken buckles, and ensure they work correctly.

If there is a tear in the pdf, it will lose its buoyancy capacities, which can be extremely dangerous. Also, ensure there is a life jacket for each person on board and that they fit correctly.

Fire Extinguishers

Regularly check your fire extinguishers, ensuring they are fully charged, in good condition, and have not expired.

Also, ensure all passengers know where the extinguishers are located and how to use them. Having multiple extinguishers in your boat is also a good idea. They must be located in a visible and easily accessible place.

First Aid Kit

Although a first aid kit is not required by the U.S. Coast Guard, it’s safer to have it on your boat. Your kit should include basic items such as bandaids, gauze, antiseptic, painkillers, and scissors. When selecting a first aid kit, consider the longevity of the trip and the type of water body you’ll be boating. 

Final Words!

That’s all there is to it! To get your boat ready for summer, you just need to plan and prepare. If you’re not confident with electronics or simply don’t have the time, it’s best to ask for professional help. When you set sail for the first time, it’s a good idea to stay near the shore to ensure everything is running smoothly. This way, you’ll have a fun and safe time on the water.

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8 thoughts on “How to Get Your Boat Ready For Summer – Your Ultimate Guide!”

  1. This is the second website that has gotten me pushed out of my chair today! I was looking at your site and my husband pushed me out of the way to read and look it over. He was like “Babe look, I knew I wasn’t the only one that did this”. So thank you for writing this great article!! It was fantastic to learn from and great to finally understand what my husband was going on about all these years!!

    • Hi there,

      Thank you so much for your lovely feedback and for taking the time to read my article. I am thrilled to hear that you and your husband enjoyed it and found it helpful. My goal is always to provide valuable insights and make overwhelming topics easier to understand. Your support means the world to me, and Ill keep working hard to create great content for you.

      Thank you for the comment, and I wish you and your husband a lovely day.

  2. You have really put together a wonderfully comprehensive list for boat owners to use before the summer season. It is definitely a good one to print out and use as a checklist while getting the boat ready. 

    Thanks for the tips on cleaning out the carburetor.  I never knew that this as also necessary. Also great tips on checking out the electric components as these always tend to be faulty after a long break. 

    • Hi Michel,

      Thank you so much for your kind words! I’m really happy to hear that the checklist was helpful and informative for you. Getting ready for the summer boating season is super important, and taking care of the carburetor and electric components can make all the difference in having a fun and safe time on the water. If you have any other questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to let me know!

      Thank you for the comment and I with you a lovely day.

  3. Hello Daniella! I just finished your article about readying your boat for the summer boating season. I really enjoyed it! I have no expertise in the way of boats, although I’ve happily cruised on a few of my friend’s pontoon boats a couple of times in the past. A long time ago, we once had a pontoon boat at our family cottage which used to be used for boating, but after some years of being put into storage for winter under a plastic boat tarp, it had seen the last of its days due to being kept outdoors in the winter months. We ended up retiring it and opting for smaller boating options like canoes, and kayaks.

     They were easier to store in our sheds, and much less cumbersome to get from the shed to the dock where we would set sail in them. I was wondering if you have an article on how to clean and store your boats.  I ask because the boat we had was covered in everything from moss to pine tree gum, etc after being stored outside (although under a tarp) it still was at risk of the elements of weather.

     I know you mentioned in your article how to clean specific aspects of your boat, including carburetors, fuel systems, etc, but what about if your pontoon boat interior flooring and upholstery consists of carpet and vinyl? How do you clean these materials without damaging them? Is there a specific way you can help prevent them from damage in storage in the colder months? Should you use a product or solution to do this, and if so which ones? Are there special coating solutions you can use to protect things like the material around the steering wheel of your boat, etc to create a barrier between these parts and the weather? 

    I’m no boat aficionado, I prefer canoes myself, but, I really enjoyed reading your article, and I will pass it on to my friends who do enjoy pontoon boats and will be getting them prepped for the summer season coming up. 🙂 Thank You for such an interesting reading experience. I learned a lot about boat preparation for summer!

    • Hi Cal,

      That’s a good question, and soon I’ll write an article about it. So stay tuned:)

      Thank you for the comment, and I wish you a great day.

  4. My Uncle has a boat and I always wonder the steps he take to get his boat ready. I remember helping him check the extinguisher and also ensuring everyone on the boat was with a life jacket as well, pretty top tier experience I must say. Thank you so much for this amazing piece.

    • Hi Colly,

      You’re welcome! I’m glad you found my article helpful. It’s great that you were able to assist your uncle with the safety checks on his boat and that you also made sure everyone had a life jacket. Safety should always be a top priority before setting out on the water. If you have any more questions or concerns, feel free to ask, and I’ll do my best to assist you.

      Thank you for the comment, and I wish you a lovely day.


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