By Nicki Polan, Executive Director, MBIA
We all know how the supply chain issues are causing delays for everything from boats to couches, so it is never to early to start planning for next summer’s boating fun.
With the days getting shorter and the air getting cooler, you may have already started the process of wrapping up your boating activities until next spring. But, before you put all the toys away, it would be prudent to take the time to do an inventory of gear, safety equipment, dock lines, fenders, tow ropes, and everything else now, rather than waiting for spring. Then get shopping.
Head to your local marine store and purchase or order these things now so as to not delay your next summer’s fun. If these items are in stock or come early enough, why not put them under the tree. If they are delayed, then you have a jump on the season and hopefully plenty of time for them to arrive before spring launch.
Discover Boating just put out a nice checklist for boaters: Ensure these five items are on your end-of-season checklist so that the next boating season starts straight away, safely and happily.
1. Safety Equipment – Are your fire extinguishers still in date? How about flares? U.S. Coast Guard regulations require these to be stamped with expiration dates. If yours are old, contact your local fire department, sanitation department, or town office to find out the rules for disposing of hazardous-waste materials. Additionally, double check your first-aid kit and the integrity of throwable floatation devices, life jackets, and other related equipment. Consider, too, whether your kids have outgrown their life jackets. When in doubt, replace them. You can donate gently used ones to the Sea Tow Foundation and other organizations.
2. Docking Lines & Fenders – Anything that appears grey and stiff or green (coated with algae) likely has seen better days. Chafing is the enemy of lines, too. Even if everything is in good shape, make sure you keep some spares onboard. While you’re at it, check your anchor chain.
3. Marine Electronics – Prioritize replacing units related to communication (like your VHF radio, for example) and navigation if they didn’t work properly this past season. Then, decide if you’d like to add anything new to your helm. For instance, if you became hooked on fishing, why not take the time to start shopping, and installing, a fish finder now? Besides, the marine installers might have more availability now than they will next spring, when everyone is re-launching at once.
4. Seat Cushions – Between sun, spray, and sunscreen, your boat’s seat cushions take a beating. Carefully inspect yours for mold or mildew, and give them the ol’ sniff test, too. Dispose of ones affected. Also look for rips or tears. A good marine-upholstery company can manufacture new ones for you. Make sure they come with snaps or other ways to secure them as well. The last thing you need to do the first day of the new season is to search the waters for cushions-turned-flying-objects.
5. Watersports Equipment & Towable Toys – Just like with the other categories already mentioned, prioritize repairing or replacing damaged gear. Next, what new watersports did you try but not accessorize for, and what activities do you want to try? Weigh what’s practical in terms of your onboard storage space and the time you’ll devote to pursuing the passion.
If it is a new boat you wish to purchase, same concept applies. Start your research, shopping, and ordering as early as you can. Depending on the boat type, manufacturer, and dealership you may not have to wait, but just in case, it’s best to start the process now by heading to a boat dealer. The old saying, “Good things come to those who wait.” is certainly appropriate during these challenging times. So, with spring launch only a few months away, don’t delay. Get going now to assure the end of your wait coincides with the beginning of your summer fun.