We’ve got three weeks until the unofficial start of summer Memorial Day weekend. And thanks to a miserably chilly March and April, marinas on Ohio’s lakeshore are about three weeks behind.

“It’s so late,” said Tom Gavel, owner of Tag Marine Services at Whiskey Island Marina. “For the last month it’s like you’ve been shaking up the Pepsi bottle, and someone took the top off and it just exploded.”

By Wednesday afternoon, the staff at Whiskey Island had launched about 20 boats, floating smugly in their slips.

Anglers loaded up fishing equipment, and couples cleaned out the insides and loaded on the cushions. Maintenance crews moved picnic tables and cut the lawn. The Metroparks motored a sailboat over to the old Coast Guard Station. Sunny and windy and hot, it felt like summer.

“As soon as it hits 75, 80 degrees, everyone wants in,” Whiskey Island Marina manager Pat Gettens said.

Crews still have about 200 boats to lower in, most using straps and a forklift.

At least spring prep can be easier than fall, when crews haul boats out of the water and winterize them. In October, marinas work every daylight hour to:

  • hoist boats out of the water
  • winterize their engines with antifreeze
  • clean the bottom of algae, zebra mussels and other lake junk
  • maybe repaint
  • shrink-wrap them tight
  • store them for winter

What hauling out your boat for the winter entails

Now, after some clean up, a boat might be good to go in the water.

“If everything’s good, we just go down the list,” said Gavel.

While shrinkwrapping a boat is an intensive process, requiring wooden posts, webbing and a propane-fueled heat wand, it’s simple to unwrap. You just take a pocket knife to the plastic, and it comes right off. Boat owners can leave the wrap under their boats, and yard crews pick it up to recycle. (Gavel says it’s tough to reuse for another season, since you’d have to have everything in the same spots.)

“It’ll open right up and come right off, a five-minute job,” said Gettens.

 

How to prep your boat for a spring launch

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