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Jun 03, 2021

It"s June and chances are you are ready to go out on your boat. But before you do, check a few things first.

Safety Gear

Check your required flares — they're a few months older now and may be expired (flares expire 42 months after the date of manufacture and are marked).

Next, locate your fire extinguishers and make sure the pressure gauge is still in the green. Make sure you have enough life jackets and they're in good shape with no cuts or heavy mildew. If you have sleeping accommodations on a boat with a gas engine or propane stove, make sure there's a working carbon monoxide alarm — most can be tested just like a smoke alarm by pressing the test button. Change batteries if needed.

Also, take the opportunity to make a test call on your boat's VHF or handheld. The U.S. Coast Guard estimates that almost 90% of marine VHF radios are not programmed with an MMSI number — an important safety feature — so do it now.

Electrical Connections

A faulty electrical connection can leave you stranded on your first day. Make sure your battery cables are tight and free from corrosion. The batteries should have been periodically charged during the winter. If not, charge them now so they'll start your engine when the time comes.

Navigation Equipment

If your boat is equipped with a multi-function display (MFD), power it up to make sure it's working properly. Check the manufacturer's website for software and chart updates. It's often easier to do this when your boat is ashore and you have internet access so you can download the necessary software.