I've noticed an increase in the traffic across the Island in the last week by some hardy folk who are obviously keen to take to the water (despite the air temperature) and it made me reflect on a little incident that I was involved in a few years ago.
We went for a day paddle down in Pembrokeshire, everything seemed fine, but the boat was becoming increasingly hard to handle in the windy conditions (the pebble in the skeg box probably wasn't helping). Eventually when we reached the shore again, we discovered that the hatch covers on the boat had perished over the winter season, they looked perfectly fine until you pressed down on them at which point they opened up like swiss cheese.
Considering this and the issues we've had with small mammalians taking up residence within our extensive fleet over the winter period in recent years, my top tip for the day is give you're boat the once over ahead of the first trip of the season and leave yourself plenty of time to get the spares/replacement parts that you may need. Hatches, backbands & decklines that may have been nibbled. Check your flares are in date and haven't perished. check how long the battery in your VHF will hold a charge for. Give towlines the once over, check your PFD hasn't been nibbled (those blighters will eat ANYTHING). As they said when I was Scout "Be Prepared".
Plan ahead and enjoy that first paddle of the season.