When you’re all fired up to go boating, it’s easy to forget important details. You might remember to bring beer but forget Band Aids. You remember beach towels but forget your marine radio. With spring fever forgetfulness in mind, here are seven reminders to make your late spring and early summer excursions on the Chesapeake safer, more effective, and more fun. 

Hundreds of boaters will show up to watch the Blue Angels for USNA Commissioning Week: May 24 (practice day) and May 25 (air show). Photo by Will Keyworth

1. After you launch, don’t sink the boat! From BoatUS: “Make sure the engine intake sea strainer and any other thru-hull openings are properly secured. Every year, boats sink just after launch because someone forgot to reinstall strainers for raw-water cooling after they were winterized. Also, if they weren’t properly drained last fall, they could have been damaged by ice over the winter. Check for worn-out hose and rusted hose clamps while you’re there. If your boat is trailered, make sure to install the drain plug you may have removed last fall.”

2. Inspect your trailer. How many times have you headed out for that first adventure only to realize that your trailer taillight is out or that you have a flat tire? Inspect tire treads and sidewalls, check tire pressure, and see if you have a spare tire. Check bearings. Test brake, tail, turn signal, and back-up lights. Clean/tighten connections or replace bulbs to assure that all are operating properly. Make sure the white ground wire is securely attached to the trailer’s frame. Find the article “Boat Trailer Spring Maintenance.”

3. Update your first aid kit. You may buy a new kit at West Marine or update the one you have onboard by making sure you have the following: antiseptic wipes to clean wounds, first aid cream, a variety of adhesive bandages, gauze pads, adhesive tape, sting relief wipes, cold packs, scissors, aspirin, and sunblock.

4. Remember to bring your VHF. A handheld, battery-powered marine VHF is a must for a smart and safe mariner and can be clipped on your belt or mounted at the helm. Investing in a good one could be your best safety investment. Learn how to use one buy taking BoatUS Foundation’s online “All About Marine Radio” course for $34.

5. Make a marina plan. Are you looking for a boat slip for a night, a boat fix, or the entire season? Check out PropTalk’s Chesapeake Bay Marina Directory, showing top marinas on a nautical chart easily searchable by amenities, lift tonnage, or boat size.

6. Dock bar hop… responsibly! Let PropTalk help you choose a dock bar to visit by boat by searching our Dock Bar Guide. Always choose a designated boat driver to explore the great watering holes of the Bay.

7. Tip well, tip often! When a dockhand helps you to tie up your boat, fuel up your boat, or especially pump out your boat, tipping them would be most welcome, as most dockhands work on low wages and depend upon customer tips. Tips range from $5 to $20 or more, depending on what the dockhand does for you. Tip well, and you may be surprised how much your customer service improves. Before you cast off, make sure you have cash in your waterproof wallet!