Owning a boat is all fun and games until something breaks down, falls apart, or stops working like it should. When disrepair sets in, boating ceases to be an escape and morphs into a point of contention for you, your family, and your finances.
Thankfully, you don’t have to constantly fall victim to boat problems and difficulties. With a commitment to preventative maintenance and ongoing attention to detail, you can keep your boat in tip-top shape year round.
6 Helpful Boat Maintenance Tips
There’s a right and wrong way to approach boat maintenance. The incorrect method involves waiting for something to go wrong before you address it. This is called reactionary maintenance. The better option involves addressing issues before they emerge. This is referred to as preventative maintenance.
Let’s take a closer look at some proactive and preventative boat maintenance tips to help you protect your vessel and reduce stress.
1. Pay Attention to the Engine
The engine is both the heart and the brain of your boat. When the engine has troubles, the entire boat feels it. And while you can’t always prevent engine failure, there’s typically something you can do ahead of time to lower the risk.
Whether it’s outboard, inboard, or sterndrive, routine inspection of your boat’s engine is an absolute must. Begin by checking your oil levels. If you notice a surprisingly low level, top it off and check for the presence of leaks. Moving parts should regularly be lubricated with an anti-corrosive. Lines and hoses are to be inspected for signs of wear. Clamps and fuel lines must also be manually inspected for corrosion.
2. Regularly Flush the Engine
Regardless of whether you run your boat in saltwater or freshwater, you should flush your engine with fresh water after every use. Some might say it’s unnecessary, but for the limited amount of time it takes, it’s well worth the extra effort. It prevents salt crystals, sand, muck, crud, and other deposits from harming the internal components of the engine.
3. Change the Oil Regularly
“The number one preventative maintenance practice for your ride on land also applies to your ride on water,” AutoTraining.edu explains. “Changing your boat’s engine oil and filter at its recommended service intervals keeps engine parts lubricated and the internal engine temperature from rising above a safe level.”
Prior to changing your boat’s engine oil for the first time, always consult the manual for information regarding oil requirements, filter sizes, and proper steps. Each vessel is different and should be dealt with according to the manufacturer’s recommendations.
4. Check for Propeller Damage
Your boat’s propellers play an important role in keeping your boat safe and efficient. Make sure you regularly check for any signs of damage. If you notice chips, dents, or other issues, this may be a good time to upgrade to a better propeller with more blades (or even a larger size).
As Wholesale Marine explains, “Propeller repair is not for the Do-It-Yourselfer. Leave that option for a skilled marine technician. However, there are simple kits that enable most boaters to replace their motor’s prop fairly easily. The Michigan Wheel 202SH Propeller Hub Kit is a great example, and offers video instruction so users can swap out their boat propellers and be back in the water the same day.”
5. Keep it Clean
Much like your car, it’s imperative that you keep your boat clean. Not only does this ensure your boat looks good, but it also protects its surfaces and helps it retain value over time.
Every so often, make sure you wax your hull, apply a water repellent product on the windshield, wipe down upholstery, flush the livewell pump (if applicable), and rinse the deck.
6. Winterize Prior to Cold Season
If you live in an area where temperatures plummet below freezing during the winter, it’s important that you winterize your boat. This prevents engine damage and ensures your boat is ready for action once the weather warms up in the spring. If you’re unfamiliar with how to winterize your boat, here’s a good guide to walk you through the process.
Don’t Wait Until It’s Too Late
You don’t need to be a mechanic or handyman to take care of your boat. All it takes is the right approach and a willingness to get your hands dirty.