Is boating a passion of yours? Do you own your own boat? Click here to learn about several boat maintenance tips that you probably never heard of before.
Did you know that over 12% of American households own a boat? In fact, experts estimate there are about 25.4 million privately owned boats for recreational use.
There's nothing like a great day out on the water, especially when you live in a warm, sunny locale like central Florida. But just like you need to make time for regular vehicle maintenance, you also need to prioritize boat care and maintenance.
The thought of boat maintenance can seem overwhelming, especially for first-time boat owners. That's why we've put together this essential boat maintenance guide to point you in the right direction.
Keep reading for the best maintenance tips for your boat — including a few you may not have thought of.
1. Inspect Your Boat Before Every Trip
Yes, really. Every trip.
Why? It's all too easy to assume that your boat will run perfectly every time you take it out, especially if it's a newer model. But the truth is that problems can creep up at any time, no matter how old your boat is — or how well you maintain it.
In addition to any seasonal or annual maintenance tasks, you should have a boat maintenance checklist you follow before every launch. This should include items like:
- Checking the oil and topping it off (if needed)
- Checking the boat's steering movement
- Checking the bilge pump operation
- Checking the propeller for signs of damage
- Ensuring the battery is charged properly
- Inspecting the hull for damage (and repairing it, if needed)
- Washing the deck and hull
- Checking the fire extinguishing system
- Ensuring the boat's electrical system functions normally
It sounds like a lot of work, but in reality, this checklist will only take you a few moments. It allows you to spot and fix any potential problems early. That way, you can order the parts you need and get back out on the water.
2. Prioritize Engine Maintenance
It's the worst feeling in the world to have to be towed back to the marina because your engine failed. Sometimes things happen that are out of your control, of course.
But more often than not, you can avoid serious engine problems (and major safety concerns) by staying on top of regular boat maintenance.
As mentioned above, get in the habit of checking your oil before every outing. For gas-powered engines, you could get a full oil change every 100 running hours. For diesel engines, get an oil change every 50 running hours.
Some other tasks to add to your engine "to-do" list include:
- Checking for oil leaks or fuel leaks
- Using an anti-corrosive to lubricate moving parts
- Inspecting your hoses and lines for wear and tear
- Checking the fuel lines and clamps for signs of corrosion
Finally, ensure that the outboard is securely attached to the transom. It's all too common for misalignments to occur and hardware to loosen, especially if you're using your boat a lot.
3. Keep the Exterior Clean
Did you know that a dirty hull can cut your fuel efficiency by up to 30%? The cleaner your boat, the better it will perform — it's as simple as that.
Keep your boat's exterior clean will also help to stop the spread of invasive species, particularly if you're traveling long distances over the water. It also keeps your boat's finish intact, especially if you operate in saltwater.
Wax your boat at least twice per season, in addition to washing away dirt, salt, and debris after every outing. For any canvas or upholstery, use mild soap, a soft brush, and freshwater. If your boat features any woodwork (usually teak), use a gentle cleaner designed specifically for teak.
Use a regular vacuum to clean up indoor or storage areas. You'll want to find a good biodegradable cleaning product for your live wells or exterior storage compartments.
4. Freshwater vs Saltwater Use
We're lucky to have plenty of freshwater lakes and canals in central Florida. But what if you take your boat over to the Gulf Coast or the Atlantic coast?
You need to know that salt accelerates the corrosion process, so there are few extra boat maintenance steps you'll need to do after a saltwater venture. The most obvious one is to wash every surface with clean fresh water to remove any traces of salt. Pay special attention to the metal components!
Within 24 hours of operating on saltwater, you'll also want to flush out your engine with fresh water. This serves the same purpose — to avoid corrosion and keep salt from collecting in the engine's lower unit.
5. Know When to Call a Professional
If you keep up a good routine of boat maintenance, you should be able to ward off a lot of potential problems before they occur. With that said, there are some problems that pop up that you simply can't fix yourself.
For example, let's say you encounter any of the following problems:
- Visible damage to the hull or exterior
- The engine overheats
- It seems like you're losing power
- Problems with the shifter
- Vibration with increased speed
These are all indications of a more serious problem — or, at the very least, a problem that requires a professional to diagnose and repair. The best boat repair companies offer on-site services to fix the problem and get you back out on the water.
Looking for Boat Maintenance Near Me?
Armed with these boat maintenance tips, you should be ready to keep your boat in good working condition for a long time.
However, like everything else, the time will come when your boat needs servicing beyond your skill level. When that day comes, Regal & Nautique of Orlando will be there to help.
After all, we're more than just a boat dealership. We proudly sell boat parts, detailing packages, custom upgrades, and everything else you need to enjoy your time on the water. Contact us today with your questions about boat maintenance or anything else related to boats!