RENO, NV - Most boat owners get anxious to get out on the water as the weather turns warm.
Chances are their craft has been sitting since last fall and there's more to getting it ready than simply hitching it up to the trailer.
That's where a guy like Bill Stolz can be a lot of help. Bill is the Division Commander for the U-S Coast Guard Auxiliary.
Thursday a local couple was meeting with Stolz in the parking lot at Marine West on Mill Street. They were getting ready to head to the California Delta, but before they go they wanted a quick inspection of their jet ski or personal watercraft..
"We'll go through and check the boat and make sure its got all the federal and state mandated equipment and that it looks like it's in good condition," says Stolz.
He doesn't get deep into the mechanicals, but his inspection does touch on a number of other things.
The most common problem he finds, in fact, has nothing to do with the craft itself.
"They have inexpensive life jackets that are all stowed away somewhere where they can't get at them. And the spirit of the law is that they have to be readily available/ So we remind them of that."
Stolz says a lot of boats suffer mechanical problems their first time out in a season for failure to do the proper preventative maintenance the previous fall.
For instance, he says, it's a good idea to change the oil in an engine when it's put away in the fall. The old oil contains acids that aren't doing a motor good over the winter layover.
A little attention could also prevent the most common equipment failure this time of year, one that could cause problems even before you get to the water.
"Trailer wheel bearings," Stolz says. "If they pulled the boat out. They parked it and it's been sitting all winter long and there was any water in the bearings, they can be rusted out."
That explains the trailers you see beside the road with a wheel off. The bearings seized because of rust.
The little jet ski he's inspecting gets good marks and a sticker which tells any law enforcement the couple may encounter they were wise enough to check for problems here in the parking lot than discover them out there on the water.
These inspections are free and voluntary. You can arrange for them by contacting Bill Stolz at BillStolz@sierracgaux.org