Spring is here, and the weather has prompted the floodgates to open, releasing thousands of boats from their winter storage. Like anything else, smart preparation will be the key to a successful season for everyone, and we at your local Bass Pro Shops would like to offer some advice and tips for a great beginning to a long boating season.
First, let’s start with the trailer, since your boat is dependent on reliable transportation. What condition are your tires in? Do they show signs of dangerous wear, or dry rot? Most boat tires never wear out, they break down over time. If your tires are in good shape, inflate them to the proper setting, and move on to your bearings. Have you had your bearings re-packed? Check them yearly for wear, and replace them as needed. Cold lake water on a hot bearing can be tough, so make sure they stay full of fresh grease all of the time. At Bass Pro Shops, we offer Bearing and Seal replacement kits, as well as the proper grease for ongoing maintenance. Bearing Buddies with Caps work great for keeping the grease in and the world out.
When you check your tires, remember to check your spare tire very closely. The main reason for this is that the only thing between your boat and the rough pavement at 70 mph are two small patches of rubber tire, so it is best to make sure that they are in good shape. If you see signs of worn tires, replace them. IF you see damage to your rims, your local Bass Pro Shops sells replacement tire and rim combinations for most boat trailers.
Speaking of trailers, the only thing holding your boat onto the trailer is a couple of straps, and they need to be replaced every few years. Nothing would be worse than having the straps beak at 70 mph, causing you to dump your boat in the road. At Bass Pro Shops, we carry a full line of Transom Straps, Gunwale Straps, and Bow Straps. Some of the straps even bolt directly on to the trailer and are retractable, simplifying the tie down process.
Trailer lights are a critical but often overlooked component of your boat trailer. Connect your boat trailer to your tow vehicle and have a buddy help you check out the lights. At Bass Pro Shops, we offer everything from replacement bulbs to replacement lights, as well as replacement trailer wiring harnesses. Wiring can dry rot as well, so make sure to check your wiring thoroughly. Finally, remember to check the trailer hitch on the tow vehicle, especially the trailer ball and the nut on the underside holding the ball onto the hitch.
Okay now, so your trailer is ready to go, how about your boat? If you stored it properly, then getting everything ready should be a breeze. Let’s start with the battery. A properly maintained battery should provide good service throughout the stated battery life cycle. Some batteries require that you monitor the fluid levels, and others are sealed. All batteries can benefit from the use of a quality on-board battery charger, as these will keep the batteries fully charged and properly conditioned, ready for use when you are. If your boat does need new batteries, we carry a full line of Starting Batteries, Deep Cycle Batteries, and Dual Purpose Batteries at Bass Pro Shops, as well a variety of one, two, and three bank battery chargers. If your boat does not currently have an on-board charger, now is the time to add one. When you get in from a day of drinking beer and catching fish, you just plug it in to the AC plug and your batteries will be ready to go in just a few hours.
Now that you have your boat cranked, how long will it run? Once again, the answer is determined by how well you stored your boat. If the engine won’t keep running, or runs very rough, the problem may be in the gas tank. Gas can go stale in as few as 60 days, and you don’t know how old it is when you buy it. The answer is to use a product that we carry at Bass Pro Shops called Stabil. Stabil addresses several major problems caused by gas storage in a boat, or any tank, for that matter. Gas goes flat over time, and can lose its ability to help your engine run effectively and efficiently. Stabil is made to add to the tank when filling it up, treating the gas in the tank and in the engine, extending the life of the gas for up to a year. Another problem associated with gas is that much of it contains ethanol. Ethanol alone can be harmful to your engine, and can attack and damage the seals in some older engines. The main problem that you notice with ethanol is that it pulls moisture out of the atmosphere, adding that to your gas tank. This is not good, and should be addressed by adding Stabil or another ethanol treatment. Stabil will treat the water in the tank, breaking it up into smaller molecules, allowing it to be expelled from the engine through the normal combustion process. Water is highly corrosive, and you want it out of your gas as soon as possible. Bass Pro Shops carries Stabil in several different sizes of easy pour containers, and we carry other ethanol treatments as well. I use Stabil, and can vouch for it personally.
Alright now, you have pulled your boat to the lake for the first time this season, and thanks to your preparation, it cranked right up and ran as smooth as ever. Now, we will discuss how to make that boat look like new again. Bass Pro Shops has a whole area devoted to cleaning supplies that will make your boat look like new again. To start with, we carry the proper Buckets, Sponges, Scrub Brushes that clean without scratching, Hand Washing Mitts, Polishing Pads, Terry Cloth Towels, Cloth Diapers, everything you could imagine. You supply the water and elbow grease, we have the Boat Soap. Boat Soap is important, as it won’t wash off the protective finish that may still be on your boat. We have HD Hull Cleaner to get the scum deposits off of the hull, and HD Bottom Cleaner for the really stubborn stains. Once the dirt is gone, how does the finish look? If it is faded or oxidized, we have Color Fiberglass Restorer, and HD Oxidation Remover. We have things to help you get that luster back, or get your shine on as they say. We also sell the better Boat Waxes and Boat Polishes with PTFE. Your boat will look great this year, if you will invest a little time and care, and your finish will look nicer, longer. Of course, using a Bass Pro Shops Boat Cover will help this greatly.
Finally, we have arrived at the inside of the boat. Boat Soap will help keep the carpet looking nice, and our Upholstery Cleaner works great on stains. Did you know that the vinyl on boat seats has to breathe and maintain healthy moisture content in order to look good, remain pliable, and resist cracking under pressure? Our Vinyl Cleaner and Protectant will help keep your seats and interior healthy and looking great for years if you use it regularly. Does your boat have pontoons? We have several types of Pontoon Cleaners, some for aluminum pontoons, and some for fiberglass pontoons. Some even have spray nozzles for easy application. As always, follow the manufacturer’s recommendations when using any of the products you get here at Bass Pro Shops. And if there is anything that I have not touched on here, give me a call at 205-702-7500, x4081, or, better yet, come see me in person at Bass Pro Shops here in Leeds, Alabama. I’ll be looking out for you.
Jim Mann, Marine Department