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Boat Maintenance | Boat Care Checklist to Protect Your Pride and Joy
After a long day in the water sometimes the last thing you want to do is boat maintenance. Unfortunately if you want your boat to last you need to give it a bit of love and care. With winter fast approaching your boat has hopefully had some good use over the summer. This presents a good opportunity to take care of those little maintenance issues. This article looks at what boat care is needed, how often you should do each maintenance job and how to make sure you’re doing each job right. If you’re a long time boaty this won’t be new to you, but there will definitely be some things that you’ve forgotten that are mentioned here! If you’re new to boating this breakdown will give you the basics of boat maintenance to ensure that your boat is kept in tip top condition and will last you a long time!
Everything on your boat needs maintenance, from your safety gear, marine electronics to your motor. Fortunately with the right products and techniques you shouldn’t have to spend too much time on your boat maintenance. Furthermore the right boat care will extend the life of your boat and prevent further repairs in the future. Luckily for those of you who are members of Blue HQ many of the maintenance jobs mentioned here are taken care of as part of your Blue HQ boat services or can be arranged by Blue HQ.
Boat Maintenance – Maintaining Your Hull
Every Trip – Rinse your Hull with Fresh Water
Whether your boat is made from fibreglass or aluminium it is advisable that your boat is washed down with freshwater after every trip. This will take care of washing off most of the salt water. Leaving saltwater to dry on the boat can increase the risk of corrosion and wear down the polish and gelcoat. Make sure when washing the interior that all your electronics are covered to minimise the risk of water damage. Remember to take your bungs and make sure they are not blocked to prevent trapped water in the hull that can cause trouble if left sitting later on.
Every Month – Give your Tub a Bath
If your boat is being taken out regularly or exposed to the elements in storage it’s a good idea to give your boat a bath at least once a month. Warm soapy water is ideal; applied with a soft cloth or sponge. Make sure you do your best to scrub off all the salt and other contaminants such as fish blood, dirt and grime. What product you use to wash your boat is important. One good all-purpose cleaner is 3ms Marine Multi-Purpose Boat Soap. This excellent product is extremely handy allowing cleaning of the interior and exterior. A warm soapy mix cleans grease, oil, grime, dirt, the deck and hull and all interiors such carpet and upholstery. When washing aluminium boats it’s a good idea to use an aluminium specific detergent such as Septone Aluminium Cleaner. Some detergents can contain chemicals that actually increase the risk of corrosion and rust in aluminium boats. Once done give your boat a good rinse with fresh water to remove all suds.
Once a Year – Wax and Polish
Once a year you should wax and polish your boat. What product you use depends on the type of hull and the age. 3M has a huge range of products suitable for almost any application. For most applications 3ms Marine Cleaner and Wax does the job. The process is pretty simple but a bit of care and time is required.
First give your hull a detailed clean. Over the year some marks and stubborn stains may have built up on the hull. For these stains use a soft brush, a product such as Peter G’s Clean-A-Hull. For stubborn stains use the pure concentrate and give a scrub with the brush. Once your boat is dry apply the boat wax and cleaner product. Apply the product with a soft cloth then buff off to leave the shiny polished finish.
Boat Maintenance – Maintaining Your Motor
Maintaining your motor is vitality important to safe and happy boating. Services and repairs should be taken care of by a licensed professional. But there are steps to take to ensure your motor lasts as long as possible and is in its best working condition.
- Flush your motor with fresh water after every trip. Salt water being left in the motor cause corrosion damaging the motor.
- Use it often or at least run it often. One of the worse things you can do for your motor is leave it sitting for months on end without any use. The corrosive effects of salt set in whether the motor is in use or not. So it’s a good idea to use your boat at least once a month. If you haven’t got time to take your boat start your motor once a month in the pen or with the hose hooked up.
- Change your sacrificial anode. The zinc anode on your motor is there to protect you motors drive leg from corrosion. If it’s looking worn get it changed.
- Have your motor serviced. In general your motor should be serviced at least once every 100 hours of use or once a year as per the Skippers ticket guidelines
- Fuel lines can get cracked and worn. Check your fuel lines for damage and leakage once a month.
- Your spark plus should get changed during your yearly service but for heavy use it can be a good idea to change them more often.
- Dead batteries are the most common cause of marine breakdown. Make sure the batter posts are clean from corrosion and the battery hasn’t been drained from leaving marine electronics on. Preferably replace your battery yearly as marine batteries are exposed to the elements, making them more susceptible to failure.
- Check your propeller for chips and damage.
Safety Gear and Miscellaneous
The final thing you need to keep an eye on when boating is your safety gear. This is the equipment you rely on the most for safe and happy boating. Furthermore letting your safety gear go out of date can leave you exposed to potential fines from the authorities and trips cancelled. It is recommended you have a thorough check of your safety gear every three months.
- EPIRB. Make sure EPIRB battery is still in date.
- Flares. Ensure your flares are still in date and haven’t been exposed to water.
- Anchor. Make sure your anchor line is still in good condition and is not worn or torn.
- Lifejackets. Check for cuts and tears.
- Radio. Ensure you’re radio is in good working order. Check for cracking on any of the wiring.
- Bilge pump. Check you bilge pump turns on and pumps water.
- Fire extinguishers. Check your fire extinguisher is in date.
- Navigational lights. Have a thorough check you lights are in working order and apply with government standards.
Following these steps will ensure your boat will be in best working order for as long as possible and may prevent future repairs. Of course other factors can help prevent the wear and tear of your boat such as undercover boat storage and the type of use it gets. This article also didn’t over boat trailer maintenance, which is a separate issue that would be covered in future. Look after your boat and it will give you years of fun for the whole family.
If you would like to get your motor serviced, hull polished or any other boat care service contact Blue HQ. Or for information on boat maintenance check out these publications by Jeff Webster and the department of transport.