Have you ever put your boat in the water, only to discover the cranking battery is dead or the trolling motor has no power? Follow these tips to ensure you never suffer such heartache again.

Cranking battery

Along with providing the quick burst of energy needed to start the motor, the cranking battery provides the bulk of your boat’s power needs. Usually, cranking batteries are fairly hassle-free because they’re charged by the motor when the boat’s running. If you use a wet-cell cranking battery, just be sure to keep the electrolyte levels to about a quarter-inch above the battery’s lead plates. If they need refilling, only use distilled water. Note: A properly maintained wet-cell battery should last at least three years, while a dry cell, such as an absorbed glass matt battery, is virtually maintenance-free and lasts around seven years. 

Deep-cycle battery

This is the marathon runner, providing power for the trolling motor. My first piece of advice: Charge deep-cycle batteries as soon as you get back from fishing, or they become vulnerable to sulphation (when sulphur molecules coat the battery’s lead plates). And to avoid cooking your batteries, charge them with a so-called smart charger, which uses a three- or four-phase process to nurse batteries to good health and maintain a full charge. With a smart charger, you simply plug it in and select the correct battery type, and your batteries will be ready for action when you are.