Once winter is here, boaters turn their attention to off-season activities. This could include spending time at the hockey rink, a trip south to a warmer climate, Christmas holidays with family and maybe a downhill ski run or two. Just because your boating season is done for the year, you shouldn’t stop thinking about the great summer you had. There is one that’s soon to come! How great a summer you’ll have next year could depend on how well your boat and engine is maintained in the meantime.
Winter is a great time to think “preventative maintenance”. To do this most effectively, you need to work with your dealer to maximize your time on the water. How involved are they in your boating enjoyment, even in the off-season? There are so many boat dealers in Ottawa, Kingston, and the surrounding areas, what sets good ones apart?
A positive winter experience with your dealer can be divided into three (3) areas of discussion. They should be discussed either in person when you drop off your boat, or in correspondence after your boat has been winterized and a proper assessment has been completed. They are:
1) Items that you’ve requested your dealer to address,
2) Preventative maintenance that should be followed according to your engine owner’s manual, and
3) Items that your dealer discovered, during winterization, that perhaps you weren’t aware of.
Communication both ways is important. For example, if your cockpit and bow covers are showing their age and you’d like a new set fabricated, now is the time to discuss this. If your dealer indicates that, according to you engine's recommended maintenance, you should have your serpentine belt replaced, now is the time for the dealer to mention it. And, perhaps most important, if your dealer discovers something that is safety-related, such as a warranty recall, or recommends other more complicated and time-consuming repairs (example, a worn bellwos), now is the time to have this done.
“Winter work”, as it is sometimes called, can be a win-win scenario for both you and your dealer. Since spring launches and new boat deliveries dominate dealers’ spring schedule, choosing to have all of your desired work done in the off-season is the best way to ensure you can turn the key and go when you need your boat. There is nothing worse than a boatload of wakeboarders anxious to hit the water in a boat that’s not performing to its potential.
A properly maintained engine can also help increase its fuel economy, the boat’s resale value, and most importantly, keep you using your boat instead of encountering preventable issues that could have been addressed when you didn’t need it. Use time to your advantage. Think both cost AND more importantly weekend saving!
When shopping for a used boat in Ontario, keep the previous customer's maintenance habits front of mind also. Here’s to short winters, and to great boating time when the water softens!