Dealing With a Dead Boat Battery

Even if you’re a fantastic swimmer, nothing can sour a trip faster than having to deal with a boat that’s dead in the water. If the battery gives out, you might not be able to enjoy that fishing trip you’ve been planning for weeks, or enjoy summertime with your family on the local lake.

The best case scenario might lead to your boat barely making it past the shore, while the worst case scenario could leave you stranded and drifting on the waves. Because of that, it’s very important for you to make sure that your boat’s battery is in good shape before setting out.Of course, if your battery fails during a fishing trip, you can still take action to get it up and running. Even if you’ve lost electricity for your motor, you can still bounce back and enjoy your vacation.

Starting Your Boat When the Battery Dies
Before going too far, your first step should always be to check the battery and the surrounding parts first. That way, you can find out if there’s really a problem with the battery, or if there’s interference from something blocking a connection or a faulty wire.

Safety is important, so be sure to make all the proper checks beforehand. You’ll also want to ensure that all of the electrical appliances are switched off first, so that nothing can use the battery and drain power.

After that, you can use either a car or another boat as a way to jump start your ailing boat’s battery. No matter the vehicle, you’ll need to do the following:

  • correctly connect the batteries’ terminals together
  • wait several minutes for the battery to charge
  • turn the boat key, and see if the engine starts
  • disconnect the leads so the battery can charge normally

Sometimes you won’t be able to reach a car or boat for a jump start. Make use of a battery charger instead using the same principles as before, but be wary of the amperage setting and the resulting charge time needed.

How Do You Check a Cranking Battery’s Status?
Plenty of boats these days use cranking batteries to run, but even the most modern machines aren’t perfect. If you plan to go out on the water, then it’s important to know how your battery is doing, especially if you want to see if it’s dead.

As a general rule, all types of batteries need to be checked and maintained over time. Recharging them is extremely important because they lose electrolytes during normal use, but it’s worth noting the following about charging:

  • overcharging or undercharging a battery can do serious harm
  • undercharging causes damaging lead sulfate to build up
  • overcharging speeds up corrosion thanks to the extra electrons forced out

When checking your battery, do you see evidence of damage via air or acid? If so, then the battery is more likely to die on you.

Buying a battery hydrometer from your local hardware store is a good idea, since you can use it to find faulty cells in your battery. If the hydrometer shows a concentration of acid that’s 30 points or higher, then replacing the battery should be at the top of your to-do list.

How Long Should a Cranking Battery Last?
Cranking batteries are built to create fast voltage spikes and get an engine going, but they pay the price for it. A boat’s engine can heat up and even warp the thinner plates of a cranking battery, which makes them a bad choice for those that need high output for a long time.

Still, most batteries will last for a solid two years. When a battery has seemingly gone dead out of the blue, or it has a slower cranking speed than usual, then those are warning signs that it’s about to give out.

So what do you do if you want to see if a battery still has life in it?

Take your battery to the store and have it load tested for free, even if it went dead on you before. The battery might still be good, and signal that there are other electrical problems with a boat.

A well-kept battery will always last longer, though. Be sure to:

  • protect the battery from cold temperatures
  • keep its parts clean
  • use it regularly to hold a charge

If you can manage all of that, then you’re bound to get the most out of your marine adventures.