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The sun is shining, there’s a warm gentle breeze blowing and you’re itching to get out on the lake so bad you can taste it. Unfortunately, those impatient anticipations can often lead to delinquent boat service, along with careless and unsafe boat launches that are downright dangerous! But first and foremost, the Texas Parks and Wildlife requires 3 important steps to be taken prior to boat launch:

1. CLEAN…the boat, trailer, and gear. Remove any plants, animals, and foreign objects. 

2. DRAIN…all water from the boat and gear, including the bilge, live-wells, motor and bait buckets – as microscopic Zebra Muscles are known to hide here. 

3. DRY everything thoroughly before entering another body of water. If your boat was stored on a Zebra Muscle infested lake, professional decontamination using hot (104 degrees F), high-pressure water will be required. 

A great way to avoid the unimaginable is to keep this ultimate boat launch checklist in your glove compartment. This easy-to-understand checklist is designed to assure boaters have a successful, safe boat launch each and every time.

1) Take a quick gander at the drain plug in the bottom of the boat to be sure it’s installed properly.

2) Give a last minute check to ensure adequate safety equipment, spare bulbs and batteries are on board.

3) Disconnect your trailer lights and all the tie downs – or ratchet straps – from your boat to the trailer.

4) Back the boat trailer down onto the ramp until the boat stern begins to float and sufficient water is able to cool the engine.

5) Engage the parking brake in your vehicle and place it into parking gear.

6) Lower the drive unit on sterndrive or outboard motors.

7) Launching small boats – from the inside of the boat, carefully disconnect the winch hook from the bow. Exercise caution to make sure the winch handle does not spin wildly out of control. Then allow the boat to slowly float off the trailer.

Launching large boats – For large boats it’s best to launch with a handler or spotter. The handler/spotter can release the winch and properly guide you into the water and off the trailer.

8) Secure your boat with bow and stern lines

9) Carefully drive your vehicle and trailer to a designated parking area, remove valuables and lock your vehicle and trailer coupler to secure it against theft or damage.

10) On large boats – with exception of overboard waste -open the sea cocks, taking care to close them if you leave the boat.

11) Begin your pre-start system checks:

  • Check oil and fuel fluid levels

  • Check engine and bilge for leaks, cracks and loose connections

  • Check battery connections and electronics including radio function

  • Clean out raw water intake strainer prior to engine start

  • Test function of automatic and manually operated bilge pumps

  • Run the bilge blower for a minimum of 5 minutes prior to engine start

☞ Northshore Marina members receive an additional 10% off already the lowest gas prices on Lake Travis! ☜

12) Place throttle in proper position

13) Ensure shifter is in a neutral position

14) Start engine and monitor:

  • Voltage

  • Oil pressure

  • Engine temperature

  • Operation of lighting

15) Monitor the proper function of the following systems before leaving:

  • Leakage in raw water strainers and hoses

  • Engine cooling water is flowing

  • Water is pumping through exhaust sufficiently

  • Sea-cocks, through-hulls and intakes are obstruction and debris free

If you carefully checked your boat step by step with this checklist, your boat is finally ready to be launched!

Before leaving the Marina, stock up on all your boating needs and refreshments at the Northshore Marina Ship Store.   

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