One task most Harris boat owners don’t mind too much after a long winter is getting their pontoons ready for the upcoming season. When boat commissioning, it’s important to check each component carefully to make sure nothing is forgotten. De-winterizing a boat is especially easy if you took the proper steps toward laying your boat up for the winter.
Inspect the trailer
The first step to spring commissioning a pontoon is to inspect the trailer to make sure it’s roadworthy.
- Check the tires’ inflation and condition. If the sidewalls are cracked or the tread is worn, replace them. Make sure the tires are spinning freely and grease the hubs if needed.
- Check all electrical wiring, inspect the frame and springs, and test the lights.
- Test the brakes on a trip around the block, and after stopping, place your hand near each hub (not on it!) to check for excessive heat caused by bad bearings.
De-winterize the outboard motor
The next item on your spring boat commissioning checklist is to make sure the motor is running properly.
- Before starting it, take the cowling off and do a visual inspection of the motor block. Check all wiring, hoses and belts for any damage and general condition.
- Reinstall the fully charged battery. Connect the red (+) cable first then the black (-) cable.
- Mercury Marine recommends changing the water pump impeller every 300 hours or three years, so if it’s due, have it taken care of in early spring before the dealership gets swamped.
- Check the engine oil and lower unit gear lube levels. If the first start-up is on a trailer, use earmuffs and a garden hose to ensure a proper flow of water as the flush ports on Mercury outboards should only be used when the engine is off. Outboards like the Verado and some MerCruiser sterndrives have a water pickup on the front of the lower unit, which must have a special cover installed before starting.
- Test the steering system, tilt and trim, and make sure all accessories are functioning.
Clean the boat thoroughly
This part should be easy if you gave your pontoon its best cleaning of the year before laying it up for the winter as you should have.
- Use a hose to give the seats a wet-down before cleaning them with a mixture of a PH-neutral, biodegradable soap like Meguiar’s Marine/RV Boat Soap and warm water worked with a microfiber mitt, sponge or soft-bristled brush. Rinse with fresh water and dry with a chamois to prevent water spots. You can use the same mixture to clean the deck, fencing and pontoons.
- After cleaning the logs, exterior and inside fencing, apply a polish like Star Brite Premium Marine Polish to give them a protective finish.
Learning how to get a boat ready for summer is easy, and if you do a thorough job, the first trip of the year will be the trip you dreamed about all winter.