All boats require regular maintenance and upkeep to preserve their condition and performance. There are many tips and tricks to preserve the life of the craft for long-term use. We have highlighted some areas that boaters may overlook but are vital for the upkeep of most crafts.
PRE AND POST SEASON MAINTENANCE
There are two times of year that have proven to be the most important in terms of maintenance – prior to the launch of boating season and the offseason, or winter lay-up period. Preparation is necessary to ensure a long-term life span for many years to come.
SPRING LAUNCH CHECKLIST
- Replace engine and transmission zincs
- Inspect engine mounts
- Replace engine heater plugs
- Replace engine air filter
- Check the oil cooler for leaks
- Check level of the oil reservoir
- Commission engine at dock - check fluids, cooling, and oil pressure
- Soap and scrub bilges and engine pan and replace oil absorbent pads
- Inspect hoses and clamps for leaks and corrosion
- Inspect exhaust elbows
- Replace engine belts
- Inspect the boat's steering controls and linkage. Lubricate and adjust as necessary.
- Inspect wear ring & impeller
- Examine all electrical connections on the boat's motor
- Before launch, clean all connections and hook up all terminals
- Apply anti-corrosive product to all connections
- Test and charge batteries as needed
- Test all mechanical systems for proper operation
- Check that all electronics function correctly
- Replace raw water pump impellers and gasket
- Inspect and clean raw water strainers
- Service hull sea cocks by removing barnacles and growths, lubricating the sea cocks, and confirm proper operation
- Examine the condition of shaft and boots
- Clean propeller of growth and check for damage to blades
- Install new zinc
- Replace holding tank filter
- Commission fresh water system and fill water tank
- Test all water systems and remove all non-toxic antifreeze, including head, shower sump, deck faucet, and all spigots in head and galley
- Prep and paint lower unit as needed
- Clean and paint strainers
- Prep and paint bottom
- Clean swim platform, boarding ladder, and boarding step
- Re-install exterior cushions and canvas
- Adjust windshield wipers and replace blades
- Inspect and certify fire extinguishers
- Make sure you have an adequate number of lifejackets onboard
- Ensure that your boat insurance policy is up-to-date, and you have proof of insurance in a safe place on the boat
- Consult your boat’s manufacturer or a qualified marine expert for preparation items specific to your boat’s make and model.
- Get a pre-winterization inspection to audit the boat’s fenders, dock lines, cushions, and covers, as well as the electrical and mechanical systems.
- For winterization and decommission, change the engine oil and filters including fuel.
- Change the engine coolant.
- Check and adjust all belts.
- Conduct a pressure test on the cooling system.
- Change the transmission fluid and filter.
- Winterize the fresh water system and all appliances.
- Winterize the head, including the holding tank and add a deodorizer.
- Pump the holding tank.
- Disconnect cables and clean all battery terminals.
- Winterize the air conditioning
- Winterize refrigeration appliances.
- Winterize the salt water wash-down pump.
- Inspect and clean the shower sump and filter.
- Examine the discharge pump and filter.
- Remove the exterior cushions and canvas.
BOAT MOTOR MAINTENANCE
- Inspect your boat's water pump impellers for signs of aging including rust and cracks
- Regularly examine your propeller shaft to confirm that it turns freely.
- All engine hoses should be checked periodically.
- Check your boat's propeller shaft stuffing box for leakage.
- Check for fuel smell. If you smell fuel, there is a leak on the engine.
ROUTINE INSPECTION TIPS
- Unless your boat uses a maintenance free battery it is important to monitor the battery's fluid level.
- If your boat has struck a submerged object it is advisable to have a repair shop examine the running gear to assure that all damage has been repaired.
- The propeller, the propeller shaft, and the strut should be cleaned periodically.
- It is important to regularly inspect and service the boat trailer. Worn trailer parts can make it difficult to launch and retrieve the boat and risk damaging the hull in transport.
- Check for rust. Upon identifying a rust stain perform a thorough examination of the hull to determine what caused the stain.
- Remove your craft from a boat lift and store properly during compromising weather conditions.
- The rigging on a sailboat should be inspected at regular intervals to make sure it is properly tuned and that the fittings are in good condition.
- The halyards and sheets on your sailboat should be periodically inspected for wear.
- Most of the roller furling systems require little to no maintenance. However, if the system is not operating smoothly it should be inspected and adjusted or repaired as needed.