Boating season is nearly upon us and many are getting ready to pull their watercraft out from storage in preparation for Memorial Day weekend.
To ensure a safe and fun filled weekend at Lake Powell, the Arizona Game and Fish Department recommends that all watercraft owners thoroughly inspect their vessel to help prevent problems that could keep them off the water. To ensure you encounter only smooth sailing, watercraft owners should conduct the following inspections:
1. Safety gear – Check to ensure all life jackets are still in good condition, they are the right size and fit for your passengers. On average in Arizona, life jackets should be replaced every five years. Remember that state law in Arizona requires anyone 12 and under must wear a life jacket at all times when the vessel is underway and there should be one life jacket aboard for every passenger. Don’t forget that a throwable flotation device — usually a cushion with handles or a ring buoy ‘ is required for all watercraft longer than 16 feet, except for canoes and kayaks. Also check to ensure the fire extinguisher is fully charged and stowed in the proper location
2. Registration – Make sure your boating registration is current. Those needing to renew their watercraft registration can do so 24/7 by visiting www.azgfd.gov and clicking on “Boat Renewals” or at their closest AZGFD regional office.
3. Fuel system – Check the system for any leaks or damages. Give special attention to any fuel lines and connections. Damaged fuel hoses could either be cracked, brittle or soft. Also ensure the engine exhaust and ventilation systems are functioning properly. Before starting your engine, open the engine cover and smell for the presence of fuel vapor. Leave the engine cover off when first starting so you can inspect for proper functioning of the engine.
4. Belts, cables and hoses – As with fuel lines, inspect all belts, cables and hoses that may have been damaged while in storage. Inactive items can become brittle and may crack. Ensure belts are fitted tightly and that there are no cracks on the outer jacket of the throttle, shift and steering control cables.
5. Electric system – Inspect all electrical connections to ensure they are clean, tight and corrosion free.
6. Fluid levels – Check all fluid levels including engine oil, power steering, power trim reservoirs and engine coolant. Also be sure to change the engine oil, oil filter and drive lubricants.
7. Propellers and hulls – Ensure propellers are free of dings, pitting, cracks and distortion, and that they are secured properly. On the hull, inspect for blisters, distortions and cracks. Also make sure the vessel’s drain plug is in place before launching.
Fishing at Lake Powell is also a great way to enjoy the weekend. Check the fishing regulations for Arizona and Utah before heading out to make sure you have the proper licenses and are aware of any special regulations.
Game and Fish also reminds boaters to “clean, drain and dry” — and especially decontaminate — their watercraft and equipment before exiting waters designated as having invasive species.
Quagga mussels colonize rapidly on hard surfaces and can ruin recreational watercraft motors, alter water quality for aquatic wildlife, and clog water intake structures such as pipes and screens, thereby impacting pumping capabilities for power and water treatment plants.
Under Arizona law, boaters and all recreationists who take watercraft and other equipment out of waters designated as having aquatic invasive species must use the following steps when leaving:
• CLEAN. Clean/remove any clinging material from the anchor, boat, motor and hull, trailer (all plants, animals and mud).
• DRAIN. Remove all water drainage plugs (and keep them out during transport). Drain the water from the bilge, live-well and any other compartments that holds water. Drain the water from the engine and engine cooling system(s). You can do this by lowering the outboard, while on the ramp, until the water is removed.
• DRY. Ensure the watercraft, vehicle, equipment, or conveyance is allowed to dry completely before placing in another body of water.
Leaving your plugs out during transport will assist in ventilating and speeding the drying time of those difficult-to-dry areas of your boat.
If you are in need of decontaminating your moored boat before transporting from an AIS-affected water, please contact AZGFD at (623) 236-7608.