Proper maintenance can extend the life of your boat and reduce the need for costly repairs, while helping ensure the safety of all those aboard.
Cleaning and Care
Wash your boat regularly to help counteract the long-term effects of environmental wear and tear. Routine waxing and use of anti-fouling paint can also help protect your boat from the elements.
Ensure you cover all your bases by keeping checklists for everything from boat motor maintenance and winterization to boat trailer maintenance.
Be attentive to all aspects of your boat. This means keeping an eye out for everything from loose fittings to fraying lines to any other areas of your boat that may need special attention or replacement. Many times, boat damage can easily be avoided by following a boat maintenance routine.
Consider a Boat Cover
A boat cover can help keep your boat clean and free of a variety of contaminants that aren't just related to dirt or water: falling leaves and bird droppings can also cause damage if left unchecked. A boat cover can also prevent UV rays from breaking down hoses or fading carpets and upholstery.
Stay in the Know
Familiarize yourself with all aspects of boat care. Consult your owner's manual for in-depth guidelines. If you're new to boating, consider boating instruction classes that deal specifically with your type of boat. Learn boating terms and definitions. And, of course, don't be afraid to seek a professional's help when needed.Content courtesy of Discover Boating.
Battery CareDepending on the type of battery your boat uses, check to ensure that it is properly charged and has the correct fluid levels. Also be sure to keep your battery clean, because dampness and dirt can also drain your battery. Keep in mind that a boat in the water with a dead battery is at risk of sinking.
Bilge PumpA crucial aspect of boat maintenance is ensuring that your bilge pump is functioning properly. There's not much that can cause more irreparable damage to a boat than having it sink. YouÕll also want to make sure that your battery system contains enough power to support running the pump for a prolonged period of time.
Boat Motor Maintenance
After every outing you should:
- Flush your engine (if in saltwater).
- Check everything from your fuel tanks to fuel line clamps for rust, damage or corrosion.
- Check your oil for correct levels as well as proper filtration and cleanliness.
- Keep an eye on your engine's cooling system to make sure it's functioning correctly.
Electrical ComponentsMany boating failures occur as a result of corroded electrical systems, so keeping electrical components dry should be a regular part of your boat maintenance routine. Electrical fittings can be protected with a water-repellant, nonconductive grease or corrosion inhibitor.
Mooring TipsOne of the most common ways a boat can get scratched and damaged is not when it's in use, but when it's being docked. Make sure lines are securely fastened, neatly coiled and do not show signs of breakage or wear.
Storage & Winterization
Make sure you protect your boat through an effective winterization routine.
Check the owner's manual for your boat and motor for manufacturer's recommendations on winterization. The following is a general outline of areas that should be of concern to you.
- Run the engine to warm it up and change the oil while it is warm.
- Change the oil filter.
- Flush the engine with fresh water.
- Circulate antifreeze through the manifold.
- Change the fluid in your transmission.
- Remove spark plugs and use fogging oil to spray into each cylinder.
- Wipe down the engine with a shop towel sprayed with a little fogging oil or WD-40.
- Thoroughly inspect the stern drive.
- Drain the gear case and check for excessive moisture in the oil.
- Clean the lower unit with soap and water.
- If your stern drive has a rubber boot, check it for cracks or pinholes.
- Grease all fittings and check fluid levels in hydraulic steering or lift pumps.
- Flush engine with clean water using flush muffs or a similar device attached to the raw water pickup.
- Let all water drain from the engine.
- Wash engine down with soap and water and rinse thoroughly.
- Disconnect fuel hose and run the engine until it stops.
- Use fogging oil in the cylinders to lubricate the cylinder walls and pistons.
- Apply water-resistant grease to the propeller shaft and threads.
- Change the gear oil in the lower unit.