Step Away from the Lawn Mower
It’s time to put your boat in the water!
Recommissioning – taking your boat out of mothballs after a long period of inactivity is an exercise involving attention to detail – a lot of details, actually. The time and money you’ll expend relates proportionately to how well you prepared your boat prior to storage.
Unwrap and Air It Out
Take off the tarps and covers, and hang them up to dry completely before stowing. If you used shrink-wrap, cut it off and recycle properly.
Pull out all the upholstery that you can, then open every locker, compartment, livewell and window to allow fresh air to flush out that unmistakable stale boat aroma.
If your batteries have removable caps, top off the cells with distilled water if necessary.
Charge all the batteries and have them load tested, either at the boat yard or at the local auto parts store.
Don your safety glasses and rubber gloves to clean the battery terminals and the tops of the batteries with a baking soda/water solution and toothbrush. Use a wire brush to make the terminals shine, then (with the master battery switch “off”), reconnect the batteries – positive (red, “+”) first, negative (black “-“) last.
A dab of Yamalube® Yamashield™ Protectant and Lubricant on the terminals makes the connecting/ removing process a whole lot easier—and prevent corrosion.
After you’ve reinstalled the batteries, flip on the master battery switch, and individually turn on each electrical device/system in the boat to confirm that everything is doing what it should.
Remove the cowling, and scrutinize the outboard from top to bottom. You’re looking for obvious signs of pending problems – loose fasteners, corroded/ burnt wires and connectors, and anything that seems out of place.
Give every hose the squeeze test. If the hose feels mushy, shows wear from chafing or cracks from old age, replace the offending hose and the clamps.
Grab belts, twist them and try to find exposed threads or excessive cracking. Change ‘em if you have any doubts about their integrity. Press firmly on the belt between the pulleys, the belt should move about 1/2″ or so. If it moves much more than that, tighten the belt – any less, the belt is too tight.
Did you change the engine oil and gearcase lube last year before parking your boat? If you did, that’s awesome – just check all the fluids (including the power trim and tilt fluid) and you’re good to go. If not, get it done.
Squeeze a shot of waterproof marine grease into all of the grease fittings on the outboard, including the cowling latches, mid-section, clamp bracket – wherever the owner’s manual says you should.
How long has it been since you treated your outboard to a complete tune-up? More than a couple of years is too long, so have your local certified dealer go through the engine, changing the water pump assembly, doing a total computer diagnostic exam, and making sure that every facet of the factory-recommended maintenance procedures are professionally executed.
Fuel System Fanaticism
Change (or clean, depending on the outboard) all the fuel filters on the engine and the water-separating fuel filters on the boat, too.
Pour in generous doses of high-quality fuel treatments – Yamalube® Fuel Stabi-lizer & Conditioner and Yamalube® Ring Free Fuel Additive are popular choices to keep ethanol-laced fuel fresher longer, and to minimize carbon deposits inside the engine, respectively. We recommend using the additives and treatments specified by your outboard’s manufacturer to get the most out of your engine.
Don’t Forget the Propeller
It’s easy to overlook the prop, but if the propeller isn’t up to snuff, then you boat’s overall performance will suffer.
Remove the propeller (don’t lose the fasteners – the thrust washer tends to stick to the front of the prop, so make it a point of keeping track of it), and clean the propeller shaft thoroughly. Look for fishing line wrapped around the propshaft, forward of the thrust washer at the gearcase. Fishing line can cut into the seal where the propshaft goes into the gearcase; if the seal doesn’t look smooth (scored or chewed up), put the boat in the shop to have the gearcase checked out.
If the propeller has any damage (besides scratched paint), buy a new propeller, have the old prop reconditioned – and save it for a spare.
Generously coat the propshaft with Yamalube® Marine Grease, and reinstall the propeller. Torque the prop nut to the specs in the engine’s owner’s manual.
After you’ve washed and waxed the boat, and while it’s still on the trailer, carefully inspect the outside of the boat, checking for damage, removing bug nests out of the through-hull fittings, and making sure the multisensors are still where they out to be.
Boaters – Start Your Engines
Break out the garden hose, attach the flush muffs to the hose, position the muffs over the water inlets on the gearcase, and turn on the hose a bit. Once you see water leaking from around the muffs, start the engine, and let it run at a moderate idle until it warms up, then pull the throttle back to idle. Don’t rev the engine when using a garden hose and muffs—there’s not enough water to cool the engine at higher RPM; you’ll damage or destroy your outboard.
When you start the engine for the first time, pay close attention to the gauges (oil pressure, temperature, water pressure, voltmeter), and with the engine cowling off, watch for leaks—specifically water or fuel spewing all over the place–from a bad hose or a loose hose clamp.
And Don’t Forget…
Reload Your Gear
Before you hit the launch ramp, don’t forget to re-load all of your gear back on the boat.
Put the lifejackets, throwable cushions, flares, first aid kit, and other safety equipment aboard. Are the fire extinguishers fully charged? When it comes to crew safety items, replace questionable equipment.
Dig out all the dock lines, fenders and anchoring gear. Ensure that the lines aren’t worn out, that the fenders are in good shape, and that the anchor, chain and rode are ready for action.
Assemble a small tool bag of basic hand tools, flashlights and batteries, duct tape, fuses, light bulbs, and tie straps – just in case.
Make sure the boat registration sticker is current, and put important documents (boat/trailer registration, insurance cards) in a waterproof bag. Oh, and don’t forget the navigational charts – you could be lost without them – literally.
Lastly, gather fishing gear or water toys, and stow them securely.
We all know you’ll forget something the first trip out, but you can add it to your gear stash the next time you go yachting.
The Finish Line
Hopefully, you and your boat are ready to hit the water with a vengeance – and you’ve nipped lurking issues in the bud for a full season of no-hassle water time.
Clearly, this is a rather generic summary of typical recommissioning tasks; we couldn’t possibly address each boat/engine setup; every boat’s requirements are unique.
For service/maintenance/recommissioning procedures specific to your boat, please refer to the engine and boat manufacturer’s owner’s manuals. And if you have questions, get in touch with your local certified dealer, or check out the resources at www.yamahaoutboards.com.