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Boat Ownership 101: 7 Maintenance Tips to Remember

Estimated Reading Time: 7 minutes

If you own a boat, you’ll always want to keep it in tip-top shape.

Boat ownership is a big responsibility. Chances are, you’ve spent a lot of money getting your dream boat, and you’d never want anything bad to happen to it, right?

Unfortunately, boat negligence is one of the things that can cause the most damage. People often go into buying a boat focusing only on how much fun they’re going to have on the open sea and never on how much work it actually is to maintain one.

Whether you’ve got a boat that you’ve been neglecting or you’re just starting to look at buying your first boat, you’re going to need to know a few things. Today, we’re going to give you seven maintenance tips that will benefit any boat owner.

If you’re going to keep your boat afloat, you need to show it some love.

1. Eyes on Your Engine

You don’t want to end up in the middle of a large lake waiting for rescue because your engine failed, do you?

A lot of engine disasters could’ve been averted by “looking under the hood” as it were. Routine outboard, inboard, and sterndrive engine inspection will keep your rides smooth and safe.

First, look at your oil levels. Low or no oil is bad news, and you shouldn’t attempt to go out without first topping it up. You should never go more than 100 running hours between full-on oil changes or you’ll cause expensive damage to your engine.

Make sure to consult your owner’s manual or look online to see which oil you should be using. Most boats make it pretty easy to check and change the oil, but you should also routinely check for leaks, inspect your hoses and lines for wear and tear, use a lubricant on the moving parts, and check clamps for corrosion.

Last, but not least, you should always flush your engine out with fresh water after each and every use. If you’re taking it out on the ocean on a regular basis, salt crystals can attach and damage your engine’s innards. On freshwater, mud and muck can get in there and do the same.

Your engine is the most important thing to look after, so give it the care it needs so you’ll have great boating experiences.

2. Drying Your Interior

Moving to the interior, you’ll notice that everything’s a bit wet at the end of a long day out on the boat. If you leave this moisture, especially on the upholstery, you might be looking at some mold growth, which will require a more intensive clean.

All you’ve really got to do is give the interior a quick pat-down with a towel to ensure that everything’s dry. Doing this after every trip will prevent hours of cleaning down the road.

3. Check the Battery

Boat batteries can erode over time. The worst time for battery failure is at the end of a long day when it’s starting to get dark as you’re coming back in to dock. It could result in the loss of power going to your lights or your controls.

At least one battery check per season is recommended to avoid such circumstances, so get yourself a voltage meter and see how much juice you’re dealing with.

Before you check the battery, you can do a search online to find out how much a full boating season will drain one. If you think your current battery will cut it close, do the responsible thing and replace it before you do any extensive boating.

4. The Bilge Pumps

The most important pump in the whole boat is the bilge pump, which is the one that empties out the water from the bottom of the boat.

Having a good one is crucial when intense weather hits, and without one, your beloved could end up at the bottom of the sea. To avoid this, make sure that everything’s in working order before you take it out for the day. Sometimes the electrical system can fail or objects can restrict the flow of water.

When you’re examining it, check for electrical and mechanical issues as well as anything restricting the flow of water. If it’s not operating properly, you’ll probably need to swap out some parts.

5. Use the Right Products

When you’re doing your seasonal cleaning, you need to make sure you’re using the right products. If you’re going out on the ocean, then you’ll need saltwater-specific cleaning products and spray on liner for boats to help prevent the wear that saltwater causes.

Get these products from boat shops or marinas. Many of the products will be meant for use in a specific type of water, so make sure you get the right one(s).

6. In-Season Maintenance

There are things that you should be checking on throughout the boating season, especially if you’re going out on the regular.

Check your fuel lines for cracks and corrosion at least 4-5 times per year. Every time you start the boat, make sure that the pump is discharging water normally and check your prop for any damage or anything caught on it (usually fishing line). Look for any signs of damage on the hull and look inside the boat for any water leaks.

7. Prepping for the Offseason

Before you put your boat away for the offseason, there are a couple of things that you need to do. First, remove your battery and give it a good clean. As we said earlier, power leaks can happen, so after you clean them, put them in storage and remember to check them before next season.

You can also use fuel stabilizers to prevent the fuel in your tank from separating and going bad.

Boat Ownership Ain’t Easy

These are just a few of the most important maintenance tips for boat owners. Follow them and your boat will be fine for long periods of time, but neglect them and you’ll be taking your boat in for expensive¬†repairs more often than you like.¬†

Boat ownership is fun and rewarding as long as you take extra care to ensure your boat runs properly. 

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