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Getting Your Boat Out of Storage and Into the Water

Spring is here, and you’re ready to get out on the water. But is your boat ready?

Even if you’ve kept it properly stored for the winter and protected from the elements, there are still a number of things you need to do before hitting the local lakes and rivers.

While much of your focus will be on the boat itself, don’t forget other important things, such as your trailer, your vessel registration and, of course, your insurance coverage. We can help you with that. As far as the boat and trailer, check out these tips from Discover Boating, which provides boating information and public outreach on behalf of the National Marine Manufacturers Association.

Engine and Electric

Your boat’s been sitting for a few months, so it’s not ready to zip across the water just yet. Here are a few things to check before firing up the ignition:

  • Make sure fuel hoses are not soft, brittle or cracked and check the system for leaks or damage. Also verify that fittings and clamps are secure.
  • Check all other belts, hoses and cables as well. Replace if needed.
  • Inspect electrical connections for corrosion and verify your battery is holding a charge.
  • Check all fluid levels and change or top off as needed.
  • Test for proper ventilation.

Propellers and Hulls

Damage to your propeller or hull can make for an unpleasant day on the water. Here are some things to look for:

  • Propellers that have dings or distortion. This can lead to not only an unpleasant ride due to vibration but can also damage your drive train. While securing your propeller, check that the bearings are not worn out.
  • Hulls with blisters or cracks. Cleaning the hull (use an environmentally safe solution) gives you a good opportunity to check for damage. While you’re at in, clean above deck, too.


You should treat your trailer with as much care as your boat. After all, you can’t go boating if you can’t get your boat to the water.

  • Inspect the grease fittings on the hubs and reapply grease as needed.
  • Test the lights on your trailer each time before you get out on the road.
  • Rinse thoroughly after exposure to salt water.
  • Ensure your car jack will work to lift the trailer and that you will be able to loosen and tighten the lug nuts. You don’t want to be surprised when you’re on the side of the road.
  • Look over the trailer bunks once your boat is in the water to ensure the padding isn’t worn.

Safety Equipment

No matter how well your boat runs, you should never run it without the proper safety equipment. So take inventory of what’s on board to be sure you have:

  • Enough life jackets for all potential passengers. Make sure they’re in good condition, too.
  • Fire extinguisher. Be sure it’s the correct classification for your boat and is in working order.
  • Emergency position-indicating radio beacon (EPIRB) so you can be found if you get lost.
  • Carbon-monoxide detector if there’s an enclosed area on your boat.
  • Working navigation lights.

Proper preparation can mean the difference between a great day on the boat and a disastrous one. So take a little time to make this boating season a happy and safe one. Hope to see you out on the water!

Reposted with permission from the original author, Safeco Insurance.


Cohen Jacobson

Friday, October 16, 2015 at 1:01pm EDT

My brother-in-law just got a boat and he had to put it into storage for the winter. I think these tips will be great for him to read up on for when he pulls it back out for late spring. Thank for these really helpful tips on boat safety as well.

Harper Campbell

Monday, October 30, 2017 at 3:05pm EDT

I like how you mentioned that when the time comes to get the boat out of storage that there are a few safety things we need to check on before we take her out on the water. Personally, I am glad that you mentioned that we need to make sure that there are enough life jackets for everyone and that they are in good condition. This will help me to be able to relax when we go on boating trips.

Clare Martin

Wednesday, August 2, 2023 at 11:20pm EDT

It was a helpful piece of advice when you told us to avoid getting the boat in the water right away after taking it out from sitting in storage for a few months without checking everything first and verifying if the battery is holding a charge. I recently invested in a fishing boat, and I was wondering what to do about it once the weather becomes colder since I can’t leave it on the water during winter. I’ll keep this in mind from now on once I find a boat storage unit to avail of when the time comes.

James Hobusch

Thursday, December 17, 2015 at 9:44pm EST

I like what this article mentions about ensuring the propeller is in good condition. I bought a new outboard for my boat last year and would hate to cause damage to it by having an improperly balanced propeller. I will definitely have to keep this in mind for when winter roles around.

Faylinn Byrne

Tuesday, March 29, 2016 at 11:33am EDT

My kids are so excited that we can finally take our boat out of storage now. This Friday, my husband is going to inspect everything, including the engine and electric, before we head down to southern Utah to boat where it is slightly warmer. However, what would happen if we were to take our boat out on the water without everything being checked?

Kody Loveless

Thursday, June 30, 2016 at 12:55pm EDT

Thanks for the tips. I don’t know if I have ever put more grease on the hubs. I have had my boat for 6 years. That is probably bad. It is good news that I can use a regular car jack to put my trailer up. I think I will get my trailer fixed up this weekend before the 4th of July.

judy wilson

Friday, September 23, 2016 at 4:47pm EDT

This is my first year owning my boat, so I’ll need to put it in storage once it gets cold enough. I’ve been worried about how keeping it in storage for the next few months will affect the propellers and hulls, so this seems like a good list of things I should watch out for before taking it out on the water. I liked that you mentioned to look for any blisters or cracks in the hulls while I’m cleaning it. That seems like a good way to fix any damage before the next time I take my boat on the lake.

Kenneth Gladman

Thursday, September 29, 2016 at 2:15pm EDT

You want to do a lot of the same things when getting your boat out of storage that you did when putting it in. I agree you want to make sure the electrical system is working great. You don’t want to get out on the water and find problems.

Leviticus Bennett

Monday, May 8, 2017 at 1:35pm EDT

It’s good to know what I’d need to do in order to take my boat out of storage; I especially like your tip to make sure the fuel hoses are in good condition. I’m planning to buy a boat from a friend soon so that I can use it this summer. I’ve never owned a boat, so every tip helps!

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