Simple Boat Maintenance
As a boat owner, you no doubt take pride in your vessel. Whether you’re captain of a decked-out fishing boat or a modest dinghy, it’s your duty to take care of your watercraft and ensure that it stays seaworthy (or pond-worthy, as the case may be) for years to come. Read on for some simple ways to maximize the life and performance of your boat.
Clean Your Boat Regularly
Boats have a few persistent enemies that can damage to your hull: algae, marine plants and rust. You can help limit or prevent this by setting up a regular cleaning schedule. Here are a few things to consider:
- If boating in saltwater, rinse your boat with fresh water when you return from an excursion. Salt residue can corrode metal, fasteners and other hardware. Also, says discoverboating.com, if the salt residue is left too long on your gelcoat (the outermost layer of the hull, protecting the fiberglass), it can damage that as well.
- Scrub using marine boat wash and a long-handle, soft-bristle boat brush. Car wash soap can also be used and some boaters use laundry soap in a pinch.
Gelcoat Protection and Restoration
When your boat’s gelcoat is neglected (both on the hull and, it can turn chalky and hazy. Regular use of polished and waxes can help restore a faded gelcoat, according to boats.com. Consider using polishes to remove oxidation and increase the shine of the finish. Waxes can be used to protect the final finish with a coating that repels water, dirt, salt and even may protect against sun damage. You’ll likely need to use a lot of elbow grease, or utilize a power tool like an orbital buffer, to fully restore a damaged gelcoat, says boats.com.
Moving to the topside of the boat, the durable fabric used on the seating areas of many boats is vinyl, and deep cleaning can be done with a vinyl cleaner followed by a vinyl protectant. Routine cleaning can be done with a sponge and a bucket of mild, soapy water. Boats.com warns that you should never use cleaners that contain bleach or ammonia because they can damage the vinyl over time.
Simple, Routine Boat Maintenance
In addition to some of the external maintenance tips above, Discover Boating offers are a few features on your boat that you should check regularly:
- Fuel system: Inspect the fuel system for leaks or damage. Replace components when necessary. Make sure you fill your tank with the right type of fuel.
- Electrical system: Inspect all electrical connections for tight, corrosion-free connections. Clean corroded terminals with a wire brush. Charge your battery and consider having the electrical system inspected regularly by a qualified technician.
- Propellers: Inspect propellers for dings, pitting, cracks and distortion. Make sure the propeller is secured properly, and replace bearings when needed.
- Belts, cables, hoses: Check belts, cables and hoses because they can become brittle and may crack during winter storage.
- Fluids: Check all fluid levels including engine oil, power steering, power trim reservoirs and coolant. Be sure to change the engine oil, oil filter and drive lubricants if these tasks were not done prior to winterizing your boat.
Maintaining your boat with some regular, routine upkeep may help extend its life and prevent some issues that can decrease performance.