There’s always something new and exciting to look forward to at the beginning of every boating season. Now that warmer weather has arrived, it’s time for those fun DIY projects that can help you up your boating game each spring. Here we’ve compiled a list of a few easy projects and ideas that will have you feeling DIY-proud and your boat looking prepared - whether you're mechanically inclined or not!

Spring Prep Boat Upgrade Ideas

Spring DIY boat project ideas. Photo by Kim Stiver licensed by Pexels.

Back to Basics - One Easy Boat Cleaning Tip

Have you heard the saying that a clean car runs better? The same is true for boats. Said another way, a well-maintained boat more often than not provides a better experience out on the water.

Vinegar And Baking Soda

Fish stains? Dirty vinyl seats? Before sinking money into new upholstery or expensive, harsh soaps that typically aren’t good for your health, your boat’s surfaces, or the water, first try good-ole vinegar and baking soda to clean your boat this spring. Vinegar makes water spots vanish and has purifying power on par with bleach. Baking soda, stainless steel’s best friend, does a number to odors and has gentle but mighty scrubbing strength. You’ll be patting yourself on the back using this DIY cleaning hack.

Suggested recipe ratio: Keep it to one cup white vinegar mixed with two gallons of water for an all-over cleaning solution. There’s also a lot of new eco-friendly boat cleaning products out there to check out in 2020.

DIY Boat Upgrades and Add-on Ideas

We spoke with some boaters recently who had great ideas for DIY add-ons and upgrades you can do in your own backyard or driveway. Here's a roundup of some of their ideas:

Keep it Fresh with New Flags

While last season’s tattered boat flags (the stars and stripes, yacht club burgees, private signal flags, etc.) are a reminder of time well spent on the water, Brian in Maryland says they don’t send the right message about your maintenance! That’s why this simple swap, that takes only a few minutes, makes the top of this list.

Install A Premium Sound System

We agree with Sam in South Florida that a premium marine sound system on your boat takes even a great day out on the water up a notch. “Installation is fairly easy and upgrading from a budget radio or basic stock speakers to a true entertainment package makes an impact on your listening enjoyment!”

Check Fixtures and Plumbing

Stephanie in Florida told us she and her husband installed a new shower fixture to make it functional again. She said, “Right now, we’re inspecting all our systems because doing simple fixes now will make all the difference later. Replacing the shower fixture in the head, which only took two hours for the two of us to do together, checked-off a must-do maintenance project that will be appreciated all summer long.”

Fishing Gear Add-Ons

Jessica suggested adding some budget-friendly fishing gear to up your fishing game. “I recently added additional rod holders. We only had a few on the boat and it wasn’t enough when we were out fishing. Now...hopefully we’ll catch more fish!”

Greg O. said, “On the top of my boat projects list this year is updating and installing new electronics. I’m pretty excited about the new 3D sonar fish finding unit that I bought.” We're with Greg on this one - adding even a small new electronic toy onboard can be an easy way to get pumped for this season's fishing adventures! A few ideas to consider: A new FishFinder (Checkout Garmin's Striker Plus 4 GPS or SiriusXM Marine's Fish Mapping Service).

Other Affordable Boat Accessories

Maybe consider a transom BBQ grill to create the Summer afternoon boat picnics with your friends and family? Check out Kuuma's Profile 150 Propane Gas Grill that can be mounted on cockpit rails and hang off the boat to protect fiberglass and gelcoat from spills and splatters (also can be mounted on a stowable pedestal). Or do you have an onboard drysack to help keep your gear safe? What about a handheld Anemometer like Benetech's GM816 - for measuring wind? 

Safety Check

No spring to-do list is complete without a proper boat safety check. There’s plenty of emergency equipment to inventory! Flares, horns, fire extinguishers, life jackets, life raft, EPIRB, flashlights, fresh water in the ditch bag - and the list goes on.

Check Onboard Communication Tools

Make sure you have everything you need to stay in-touch out on the water, in case an emergency arises. Every safe boater should have at least the most basic, essential onboard communication tools with them at all times, including a VHF radio and a charged mobile phone. If you'll be heading offshore, it's wise to make sure you have an EPIRB onboard. Spring is a great time to make sure the VHF radio is in working order. (Pro tip: consider installing a cell phone charger on your boat if you don't have one - and small onboard solar panel isn't a bad idea either - in case your engine fails due to a dead battery you'll still be able to get a little juice to make a call.) 

Trailer Inspection

Every Spring you should check your trailer's vital components including the leaf springs, winch, tie-down straps, tire pressure (check for dry rot, tread level, etc.) and make sure all the trailer lights are working properly! We have a great trailer maintenance checklist for you to review before you head out.

Check Your Boat Documentation

Ryan McVinney with Boat Trader says: “Every year I have to dig out my folder with boat registrations, mooring permits and trailer registrations to make sure everything is up-to-date. With 4 boats and 3 trailers in the yard, sometimes it feels like a part time job just staying on top of that!”

Mechanical Maintenance (for those inclined)

Starting after winterization can be a special process - that we like to call "Summerizing" your boat! Here you should have a basic maintenance checklist to run through including: 

  • Check fuel and treat for water if necessary

  • Check oil levels

  • Water pump impeller test (check stream, replace if needed)

  • Test all batteries

  • Check your bilge bumps (replace wires or sensors if necessary)

  • Check the condition of your hull's bottom paint and re-apply as necessary (we recommend non-toxic, non-biocide antifouling paints like SLIPS Foul Protect™ bottom paint)

  • Start the motor attached to muffs and water if possible to make sure everything is running before going to the boat ramp to launch

Going Green - Sustainable Marine Products 

When it comes to the health of our waterways, we're all in the same boat. That's why we’re excited about innovations like non-toxic, lead-free sinkers, biodegradable fishing line, and people making gear bags made from up-cycled hip waders! Don’t throw away those mint tins or old pool noodles either, because they make handy, floating hook holders and tackle storage, among other things! Spring is a great time to pick up some of these items and add them to your boat inventory.

Finally, have you checked your drain plug? It may be time to pick up a new one if it looks at all worn. After all, what can be cheaper and more important than the little plug that ensures your boat doesn't end up at the bottom of the sea!