Boat Maintenance 101

Boat maintenance is one of the most important aspects of boat ownership although not one of my favorites. However, I know that routine boat maintenance can deter an expensive boat repair later. In addition to standard oil changes and replacing fluids and parts, regular inspections can ensure mechanisms stay clean and properly functioning. Just by cleaning my boat, I can increase the longevity of its important components.

Learning more about outboard boat maintenance has helped keep my boat in good running condition. With the proper care and maintenance, my vessel has stayed protected and offered fun and enjoyment for me and my family for years. To find out how I’ve kept my boat in great shape, check out the maintenance tasks I do routinely.

General Boat Maintenance Tasks to Perform After Every Trip

While I’m not trying to perform a complete boat detailing after every trip on the water, a good cleaning is definitely called for if I want to keep my boat in good condition. This is especially important after a day cruising in saltwater, as salt water can corrode many elements if it is not quickly washed off with fresh water. Although the most popular saltwater boats are resistant to corrosion, no amount of protective coating can keep a boat from rusting if it is not properly maintained.

I just use a hose to rinse off most of the boat and use a sponge and fresh water in a bucket to get the spaces that are hard to reach with the hose. I also flush out the motor, while washing it with fresh water, to make sure the engine is clear of saltwater. Sometimes, I use a boat cleaner specific to my boat’s construction materials. Even just doing some spot cleaning with it and a soft sponge keeps my boat’s paint and surface protected.

    Tip: While you may be using a boat cleaner that is completely safe for your boat’s surface, it is still important to wash it off thoroughly upon completion. Leaving soap on certain boat components can be hazardous, especially when exposed to the sun.

Inspecting for a Potential Boat Repair

I find that the best way to avoid costly boat repair is to prevent the damage from happening in the first place. As part of my seasonal maintenance routine, I inspect my boat for obvious problems. By taking care of worn or damaged components right away, I can ensure these problems don’t get worse over time. Or worse yet, lead to problems when out in the water.

Anything that jeopardizes the safety of the boat, I repair or have repaired immediately. Part of my boat maintenance inspection includes:

  • Checking the electrical lines, by wiping down the electrical lines and ensuring they are all intact and working.
  • Inspecting the bilge pumps, making sure there is no debris caught inside. Although I may not need these pumps, I turn them on periodically to test that they work properly for when I will need them.
  • Maintaining and analyzing the propeller. This is one of the most important outboard motor maintenance tasks I can complete on my boat. While the propeller is off, I look for nicks or damage that may need to be repaired. I place waterproof grease on the propeller shaft to keep it moving as needed.

A thorough inspection of my vessel allows me to identify and address boat maintenance issues before they become more expensive and dangerous problems. A proper boating inspection is also required to register a boat in most states, so it is important to look into these boating safety laws.

I always talk to my boat mechanic right away if something doesn’t look right or I find a component isn’t working properly. An expert is usually better at analyzing the problem and ensuring my boat is properly maintained and safe to navigate in the water.

To learn more about selecting the perfect vessel for your boating needs, download this guide on buying boats.

Winterizing and Storing

Unfortunately, I cannot use my boat throughout the year, and part of my boat maintenance includes storing it properly when I cannot use it. I make sure that boat storage near me has coverage options before signing a contract since I know that a boat that is stored in one spot for a long period of time can often sustain more damage.

    Tip: It is important to consult with an expert and learn how to properly winterize your boat if it will be stored during these colder months. Generally, you can prepare your boat for the cold season by wrapping it in tarps and other coverings. Proper winter boat maintenance also includes flushing the engine and water lines with freshwater and filling the boat engine’s antifreeze to the brim.

To prevent needing an expensive fiberglass boat repair due to the deterioration of my boat, I cover it during the offseason to keep the sun or freezing temperatures from affecting the boat’s exterior, fading the paint or causing rust. It is also important to open the drain plugs when storing so precipitation can exit the cabin as needed. Water buildup inside the boat can lead to damage, mold and critters living in the cabin and destroying important components.

    Did You Know? Some storage facilities can shrink wrap your boat to prepare it for colder months for an added fee.

Hiring a Boat Mechanic for Repairs

During my regular outboard motor maintenance and inspection, I may notice a repair that needs to be made. While I’m pretty good at fixing certain things, a trust in my boat mechanic with many years of experience training and working on boat engines and who has better access to the parts needed for my boat.

When I bought boat hull cleaner at my local shop, I ask about local mechanics and obtain recommendations. I first tested out a potential boat mechanic by asking for an oil change and analyzing his and pricing. I continued trying out local mechanics until I found one that I felt comfortable with for future, more in-depth repairs.

Boat motor repair can be expensive, especially if there are electrical or exterior problems that have been festering for some time. By keeping up with a maintenance schedule, inspecting the boat throughout the year and ensure storing it properly, I can avoid these huge repair bills and keep my boat running smoothly.

For more information no different types of boats and how to purchase the one that best suits your boating needs, download the boat buying guide.