Photo Credit: @lakemartingoods
Plug Day has come and gone, and Lake Martin is on it’s way to Summer Pool levels! With the lake filling back up and warmer weather on its way, many of us can’t wait to hit the water for the first time this season. But is your boat prepared? After a long winter in storage, there are a few things you will need to check before your first outing.
Here is our short, 10-point checklist to get you and your boat Summer ready!
1) Plug Your Boat
In celebration of Plug Day, our first checklist item is to “Plug Your Boat.” This might sound obvious, but forgetting the plug happens more often than you think!
The plug is often pulled from the stern of your boat to allow excess water to be drained from the hull. Many boaters tend to leave this unplugged throughout the Winter altogether, but this could lead to a disaster if you forget to put it back in. Double check that the plug is securely placed back into your boat. Just as easily as the pulling plug lets water out, it can let water right back in.
Seriously… Don’t sink your boat!
2) Inspect the Exterior
Statistically, one-third of the boats sink in the water due to damage to the boat’s hull. This could be cracks, gouges, or missing pieces. Damage can easily happen unknowingly while being stored, so be sure to give your boat a once over before moving on to the next step on this list.
3) Review Your Registration and Vessel License
Unlike our vehicles that we drive every day, your boat registration can be an easy one to forget to update.
Be sure your vessel license and registration are current, and readily accessible in the glove compartment before you leave the dock. You will also need to place updated stickers on the side of your boat if they aren’t currently there.
4) Make Sure You Have Your Safety Gear
Check that you have enough lifejackets for every passenger that plans to ride on your boat. You will also need a fire extinguisher (check the expiration date), and a signaling device on board in the event of an emergency – such as a pack of flares, horns, or whistles.
It also couldn’t hurt to have some sunscreen and an emergency kit on board for any scrapped knees while exploring the islands or Chimney Rock.
5) Check Your Navigational and Docking Lights
It is very important that your front red and green navigational lights are in working order, as well as your white light in the back. In addition, your docking lights are basically your headlights to park, so you will want those in full function too.
And finally, you should also toot your horn for good measure. Your horn is there for signaling to other boaters your directional maneuvers as well as if you are in distress … so be sure yours is still in working order!
6) Check Battery, Engine, and Gas
First things first, make sure your battery and electrical system is in working order.
You will also want to make sure to put plenty of fresh gas into your boat before you hit the open water. If your boat wasn’t properly Winterized, you may have old gas in your tank that can slow down your boat and cause issues. You will also want to freshen your oil and check for any leaks.
7) Inspect Trailer Condition
Your trailer should be looked over just as closely as your boat. After all, this is doing all the heavy lifting and transporting! A good practice would be to inspect the hubs and lights before every trip. If you have been in salt water lately, give it a good hose down too.
8) Know Your Buoys!
With the lake waters dropping so low this past year, it was probably a great reminder of how shallow some areas of the lake can get… even when you are a good distance from the shore.
The Lake Martin Resource Association is dedicated to keeping the buoys on the water in tip-top shape, spending a great deal of time replacing and secure buoys for boaters to safely enjoy the waters.
There are several types of buoys you will see on the lake, including “Hazard” and “No Wake.” Make sure you know the difference between the buoy markings before you hit the water – this could save you from potentially costly boat repairs or fines! Learn more about the buoys here.
9) Familiarize Yourself with the Local Boating Regulations and The Area
Let’s face it. It’s been a while since many of us have taken our boating test and we could probably use a refresher course.
I recommend reviewing a few basics such as when to use your Navigational lights vs. Docking lights, proper boating etiquette on the lake (which comes in handy on the busy holiday weekends) and looking over an updated area map of Lake Martin.
There are also plenty of resources to enhance or refresh your skills. Russell Marine offers a Women on Lake Martin Class on March 26 and a boating safety course at The Ridge Marina on April 2. These classes fill up quickly though, and both are now full for 2022. Singleton Marine will also be offering Driving and Docking classes for Pontoons, Sterndrives, and Tow Boats April-August. You can even brush up your skills with online courses and videos on Lake Martin Resource Association’s website, and get more info on boating safety here on our website.
10) Stay Social with Local Boating Groups
Get involved in the community of local boaters so you can ask questions, see photos, and get advice from others in the Lake Martin community. There are several great social groups for the Lake Martin, AL scene!
Lake Martin Resource Association – A great place to get involved in the monthly Lake Martin cleanup efforts or receive continuous updates on hazardous debris in the water and damaged buoys.
Lake Martin Boaters and Lake Martin Q & A – Ask questions and see photos from fellow boaters around the Lake Martin community. These are the largest community Facebook pages for Lake Martin, and are great places to connect with fellow boaters on questions, reviews, boat repair options and events happening in the area.
After following these tips, you may see that you need help servicing your boat, and there are many great places located right here on Lake Martin that can be of assistance! Check out our list of marinas here, as many of them offer servicing. Off the water, you may also want to check out Alex City Marine and Russell Marine Boating and Outdoors.
Now that you have reached the end of your to-do checklist and your boat is in tip-top shape, we can’t wait to see you out on the lake!