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Do This Before Setting Sail Like a California Dreamer 

Can you feel that salty breeze? That’s the Pacific Ocean calling your name, and you know what that means… summer is finally here! It’s time to dust off your boat and hit the water. Why else do you live in the Golden State if not for the eternal summers and the call of the nearest water? Once you’ve secured affordable boat insurance, you’re ready to hit the waves. 

Or … almost. 

Before you enjoy California’s 840-mile coastline (the third longest in the United States) or explore the state’s numerous rivers, lakes, lagoons, and other watercraft-friendly bodies of water, there are a few things you need to do first. 

Let’s make sure you’re fully prepared for your aquatic adventures. Here’s our recommended to-do list to make sure you’re shipshape and ready to go! 

Observe the State’s Boat Registration Laws 

If your sailboat is over 8 feet long or you have any kind or size of motorized vessel, you must follow through with registration at the California DMV. This is true even if all your sailing or powerboating takes place on a private lake. 

If you’ve already registered your boat, you must renew it by Dec. 31 of every odd-numbered year. Neglecting to do so can result in some rather stiff fines. That’s why we recommend putting this at the top of your do-list list before your California watercraft season begins. 

Check Your Vessel for Seaworthiness 

A lot can happen from one season to the next, and not all of it is good. That’s why you need to take your time conducting a maintenance check of your dry-docked boat. You’re looking for cracks, dings, rust, and other imperfections in the hull that might mar the looks and safety of your vessel. 

The specific inspection steps may vary depending on the type of watercraft you have. For sailboat owners, check to see if your sailcloth made it through the downtime. If you have an electric-powered boat, check the battery to make sure it holds a good charge. For those with four-stroke engines, change the oil and drain the old fuel. 

Also, check your trailer. Ensure that the air pressure in your tires is correct and that your trailer taillights and brake lights are working. Not only is it a safety hazard to be on the road without them, but it could also lead to damage to your own vessel. 

If you’re uncertain about any part of the inspection, it’s always a good idea to bring it to a mechanic or specialist for a quick check before you set sail. This is especially important for new boat owners or those who have recently purchased a used boat. 

Make It Sparkle 

To some extent, this isn’t much different than waxing your car after a long winter. It just makes you feel better to see your ride gleaming. And it’s more accommodating to your expected boating guests. 

But thoroughly cleaning your water vessel before sailing the California coastline or dropping it in your favorite body of water also gives you an excuse to take a closer look at the hull and check for any signs of damage. 

If all you’re dealing with is an off-season’s accumulation of dust and grit, a mild detergent and a hose rinse should do the trick. There are also commercial hull cleansers on the market for this purpose. 

Is there mold? You might need a stronger cleanser for that, but avoid bleach for the damage it could do to your paint job. For corrosion around battery terminals, you can use an old toothbrush and a cleaning solution consisting of baking soda and water. 

Man washes the bottom of a sailboat with a pressure washer

Stow Your Safety Gear 

Life jackets are legally required to be worn at all times on the water in California for boat passengers under the age of 13. But forget about the law for a moment — for safety’s sake, you should have enough life jackets on board for all passengers and insist that they be worn. 

If you have a motorboat, a fire extinguisher should be considered standard equipment. A whistle or other sound producing device is required on motorized vessels and should be strongly considered on all others. 

Your onboard first aid kit should contain antiseptic wipes, bandages and gauze pads, adhesive tape, scissors, and aloe for sunburns. Sunscreen should be worn by all, so have a supply on hand for those who forget to use it before coming aboard. 

Stow flashlights and extra batteries if you’re on the water after dark. And definitely bring along fully charged phones for emergency calls. Try to avoid straying too far from cell service. 

Ahoy! Don’t Forget Your Affordable Boat Insurance in CA 

As a savvy captain, you know that staying protected on the water is the key to a smooth journey. Before you hoist the sails, it’s important to understand your insurance coverage. 

Liability boat insurance is mandatory in California, but it might not be enough. This is just minimal coverage, which means it’s the least you’ll pay, but it only covers damage to other vessels and injuries to other parties when you’re at fault. It does not pay for the damage to your own watercraft. Neither does it cover the cost of repairs or replacement when no one can be blamed, such as when your vessel sustains fire or weather damage. 

When you consider the countless ways loss or damage could occur while your boat’s being towed behind your vehicle, while in the water, or when in off-season storage, you could be out thousands of dollars if you only carry liability boat insurance. 

Don’t let the jargon and policy options scare you! Speak with an independent agent to make sure you’re getting the best rate and policy, so you have peace of mind on the water. They can answer all your questions, and they work with multiple major carriers. That means your agent can find the most affordable boat insurance options for your unique needs. 

Get Ready for Boating California Season 

Living in California means enjoying the dreamy boating season, but it also means taking sensible steps to prepare for it. As you check off your pre-launch to-do list, don’t forget to contact your Cost-U-Less independent insurance agent for affordable boat insurance. 

Call us at (800) 390-4071 to talk with a friendly agent or get a quick quote online. You can also find a California office conveniently located near you if you’d prefer to meet with one of our independent boat insurance agents. 

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