Love being out on the open water? Craft the perfect boat maintenance checklist to keep your investment looking (and working) good as new
A boat needs constant maintenance throughout the year just like a car or house does. Salt residue and weather conditions will cause major problems if left unchecked. The day in, day out procedures for cleaning and upkeep are vital to keeping your cherished investment in good shape.
Since every season calls for different preventive methods, we're going to focus on servicing your boat after daily use. Creating a boat maintenance checklist is the first step, and it's easier than you may think.
Tips and tricks for creating a boat maintenance checklist
1. Daily spray washing
After a day on the water, it is important to dedicate a half hour to clean and wash the surface of your boat.
One of biggest tips we can give is to invest in a power washer. Regular hoses will get the job done, but if you want to obliterate grime and salt water, a gas or electric washer works best. Here is a quick, ten-minute wash procedure you can use:
- Starting from the bow, spray the carpet and surface area thoroughly, working down to the stern.
- Spray down the entire hull of the boat. Make sure to hit every nook and cranny!
- If you have an outboard motor, carefully wipe it down with a commercial cleaner. Scrub the propeller, and then spray it fully.
Salt residue can quickly break down exposed metals and damage the gel coat. Also, invasive species can spread and create mold and grime in overlooked areas. If you power wash after every outing, you won't need to work hard to remove pesky stains. (Although, you should scrub the inside and outside surface regularly, too.)
2. Wipe down vinyl seats and prevent damage
Many boat owners overlook the upkeep of their seats. Without protection from UV rays and salt water, vinyl seats will crack, discolor, and be a breeding ground for mildew.
However, if mildew does starts to form, use a mildew stain remover, hot water, and a deck brush to coax it out of the seat fibers. Once dry, use a preventive spray to keep out moisture. You can also use a vinyl shampoo cleaner with UV protectants to keep the seats from cracking.
3. Keep the hull healthy
Keeping the hull intact is very important and requires extra attention. A thorough cleaning with a power washer is the first step, but here are a few additional ways you can protect the fiberglass from wear and tear:
- Scrub down the hull with a commercial boat cleaner and gently rinse it with hot water and a damp towel.
- If you have a fiberglass hull, use a fiberglass cleaner and color restorer to make faded surfaces shine again.
- After each cleaning, wax and buff the hull with a UV protection sunscreen to keep the gel coat in good condition.
4. Change your oil
The frequency of each oil change depends on the overall usage of the motor, but a good rule is to fill the engine with new oil after 70-100 hours of operation.
Unlike changing oil for your car, there are no specific mechanic shops that service boat engines, unless you bring it to a dealer. So here's a step-by-step guide to for DIY changes:
- Supply cooling water to the intake gear case. Most outboards and sterndrives come equipped with a V-shaped piece of tubing that connects the gear case to a water hose.
- After flushing out the motor (which takes around five minutes), remove the dip stick.
- Insert a suction tube into the dip stick hole and feed it in. Pump out the oil, and keep it safe for recycling.
- Remove the oil filter.
- Replace the dip stick and fill the motor with new oil.
Create a boat maintenance checklist for every season
The steps outlined in this post are for upkeep during the "busy season" while your boat is in use. However, you should also prepare additional checklists for winterizing your boat and getting it ready again in the springtime. If you don't keep a strict maintenance schedule all year round, the value in your boat will quickly depreciate.
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Do you have any tips for maintaining a boat? Feel free to add them to the list in the comments section. We'd like to hear your thoughts!