Did you ever feel as though you were having a bad dream when you are actually awake. Most know that I hate winter. As I’m writing this on April 22nd, the ground is white, and it is still spitting snow. The tulips are snow covered. The COVID left me even more sensitive to cold than I was before.
As the weather warms, and spring fishing heats up, countless anglers will be putting their boats back into service after a winter of some type of storage. For openers this week, let’s look at a few basic things which can help to make this a smoother, happier process. Some of these things are based on bitter lessons I have learned over the course of many years of boat ownership. Hopefully, this will keep some of you from learning the hard way.
I usually start with the trailer. The tires and wheel bearings need to be checked out thoroughly. Remember, those tiny wheels have to turn very fast to keep up with the larger ones on the towing vehicle. This can generate intense heat and friction. Tires can sometimes look fine, and still be ready to fail. If you know that yours have a lot of miles on them, it might be a good idea to replace them. That can cost a bit of money, but it certainly beats a failing tire along the road, miles from home.
Wheel bearings must be checked as well, as they are especially susceptible to failure. They need to be examined for wear, and then packed with fresh grease. This is especially important with boat trailers, as grease is gradually washed away through repeatedly being submersed in the water. Once, on the way home from Canada, a couple of buddies and I experienced wheel bearing failure along a busy four-lane highway. One time of that is more than enough, believe me. Nowadays, I’m sort of paranoid about wheel bearings, so I take them to a pro to have them checked out and greased, and, if necessary, replaced. Be sure to check out the hitch assembly on your trailer, too. If you don’t, you might look out of your car window and see your boat and trailer going by. This might sound ridiculous, but it once happened to a friend of mine. Not only was his boat wrecked, but he also had to pay for the incidental damage that the runaway trailer did. Here’s something I’ve always found very puzzling. Somehow, my trailer lights can be working perfectly when I put the trailer into storage, but when I get it out again, they often won’t work. It must be poltergeists or something; I don’t know. Anyway, don’t wait until the morning of our first outing to find out that the lights don’t work. From experience, I know that this is unbelievably annoying.
It is also important to dump out any old fuel remaining in the tank from last season and to replace it with new stuff. Moisture, etc. can foul the old fuel and give you motor trouble, sometimes of the expensive kind. Speaking of motors, a shakedown trip before your first important trip of the year is an excellent idea. That way, if there’s a problem, you’ll have enough time to deal with it.
Accessories need a once-over, too. Life preservers, boat lights and electronic equipment should all be checked out. It’s a lot better to discover problems now, rather than on a fishing trip you’ve planned all winter. It’s a good idea to replace life preservers from time to time anyway, not only to stay legal, but to stay safe as well.