I recently prepped my duck boat for the season, and got several surprises. Unfortunately, none of them were good. In fact, the entire experience reminded me that I should have inspected the boat at least once a month through the summer, to make sure none of these things happened. In the now-infamous words of one of our great leaders: “oops”. If you haven’t un-wrapped your duck boat just yet, make sure you look out for these oopsies.
1. Bees, wasps, and hornets nests – The folds of a collapsible blind evidently make an excellent location for bees and hornets. Before you pop yours up for the first time in a long time, be sure to poke around a bit… and be ready to run! Wasps, meanwhile, seem to love to crawl into the open seams of aluminum bench seats. Once they get inside they’re particularly hard to kill, because you can’t direct the spray from a can directly at the nest. Tip: Cover up those seams with strips of duct tape, when you’re going to park the boat for a while.
2. Leafs – They clog scuppers and drains, create a detritus that’s nearly impossible to entirely clean away, and if you ignore them, your boat will become a huge messy breeding pond for mosquitoes. Covering the boat is really the only solution, short of weekly cleanings.
3. Bad gas – Ever heard of ethanol? Yeah, we thought so. And if you didn’t treat your gas with Biobor, Startron, or a similar ethanol-eater, you can count on having trouble with your engine. Another good idea: when you know the boat’s going to be laid up for a while, empty out the fuel tank, if possible. Burn that gas through your lawnmower or chainsaw, before it has time to sit and degrade.
4. Empties – we’re talking about shells, not cans. If your boat has an open deck or seams large enough for empty shells to roll through, they’ll collect in the keel – right where water is supposed to drain down. In no time, you’ll have a clog and the boat will fill with rainwater. The solution? Pick them up after every trip, and if they get stuck under the deck, figure out a way to get ‘em out.
5. Trailer issues – We’ve all had problems with trailer lights, wiring, tirees, and bearings. Other than regular maintenance there’s no way to avoid these problems, but you should plan on encountering them after the boat’s been sitting for months on end. A week before your first hunt, hitch the trailer up and tow it around the block to uncover these problems, while you still have plenty of time to fix them.