I’m lucky enough to own a cute little bass boat (my bride calls it my midlife crisis toy). The little boat is nothing fancy, just an aluminum boat with a little running motor. That said, I try to make this boat last a long time by just taking care of it and performing regular maintenance so that when I find free time to go fishing I don’t get stuck at the boat launch with a boat that does not work. not run.

Having a boat that doesn’t roll was the norm when I was a kid. I can still feel the disappointment of expecting to spend a day on the water catching fish and eating sandwiches out of a cooler, only to see my dad stomping around and shaking his head when the engine wouldn’t start – add a few family members and friends also keen to go fishing, and a bum boat can be a real disappointment for a day.

Last week I installed a new and improved bilge pump with an automatic float switch in my bass buggy. Trying to be proactive in anticipating summer showers, I wanted to make sure the boat would float when moored to a dock for the weekend or stored in a marina for the week. (I’ve sunk exactly one bass boat in my career and the experience hasn’t been a pleasant one, but that’s another story)

So before towing the boat to its summer home on the lake, I did some research with BoatUS – Boat Owners Association of The United States. In my research, I found the following information.

BoatUS says don’t forget these three oft-overlooked steps that could bring your season to a screeching halt.

1. Don’t get watered. Aging hoses and fittings below the waterline are the most common cause of sinking, especially early in the season. The biggest culprits? Corroded fittings, old hoses, rusted hose clamps, leaky stuffing boxes and cracked bellows (on inboard/outboard motor vessels). Prior to launch, using a bright light and mirror, carefully examine all of your hoses and boots (drive and shift cable) to ensure they are in good condition. Hoses should fit snugly and be double clamped if possible. Clamps tend to corrode on the bottom where it can be difficult to see. Inspect the thru-hulls for corrosion or cracks and make sure the thru-hulls operate easily so they can be closed in an emergency. Immediately after launching, check everything again.

2. A matter of anodes: A big part of the value of any pleasure boat is its propulsion system and almost all pleasure boats have anodes – or zincs – those bolted sacrificial pieces of metal (made from zinc , aluminum or magnesium) which protect the running gear from its own destruction in the form of galvanic corrosion. Remember to inspect or replace the anodes if necessary and monitor them throughout the season. The rate at which an anode deteriorates can indicate stray current in the water.

3. Yes, you forgot the plug: This is one of the most common mistakes boaters make in the spring, most often at the boat launch. In a recent survey of BoatUS members, more than 60% of nearly 1,500 respondents admitted to forgetting to insert the drain plug at some point in their boating life. Having a launching checklist can help – laminate it and use a snap ring to connect it to your boat’s ignition keys so you always have it handy.