Like all the things we care about in life, a little love, a little care and a little maintenance goes a long way. A boat is a little ‘high maintenance’ shall we say. They also give a lot. It is finding the balance between the take and the give that will make all the difference to your boat relationship. In order to prevent your prized joy from becoming a seemingly bottomless money pit, some tender loving care is all that is needed.
Of course the storage solution you have chosen for your boat is going to be an important factor in pre-empting your maintenance requisites. Is your boat moored, ever sitting in salt water? Is it propped on the side of the road or sitting in the backyard? There are multiple factors that will determine your maintenance schedule.
A moored boat equals regular checks and repairs. Moored boats need to be regularly antifouled to stop weed, slime and barnacles growing on the bottom. The wear and tear the boat suffers due to sitting out constantly under harsh weather conditions and in salt water also adds to your maintenance costs.
For those boats kept on the side of the road or in the backyard, buy a quality cover. The cover will protect the fibreglass and upholstery from sun bleaching. The cover also deters the never-ending stream of falling leaves which create nothing short of an absolute mess in the bottom of the boat. Have a garage? Even better. All of these problems do not exist in the first place.
Tips and tricks
Looking at the mechanics. Engines are expensive. Stay on top of your service dates. Engines these days are built to last and should not require excessive maintenance. After every use, it is advised to use a set of muffs and flush your engine. This will prevent the saltwater from crusting and corroding your engine. Take the cowling off and run a light spray of rust inhibitor and water repellent inside. Use WD40 or the like and prevent cables and wiring from corroding over time. A few simple after use steps and sticking to the record book, should see your engine continue to run smoothly.
Washing your boat with fresh water after every use is the golden rule. Use proper boat cleaning products. This is the key to your boat’s longevity. Routine waxing and the use of a good antifoul on the bottom every 6 months will keep your boat looking the part and reduce future maintenance costs considerably.
If you notice that any nuts and bolts have shaken free, replace them as soon as you notice. If you hear a rattling sound which you have not heard before, check it out. Better to catch these easy to fix problems early.
Timber boats are truly something special. They are admired on the water for their classic and timeless allure. Wooden boats require special attention. The harsh Australian sun is particularly problematic for varnished timber. Wooden boats require regular sanding back and re-coating. If a regular maintenance schedule is not adhered to, the boat quickly looks tiresome. Flaking varnish is a good sign you have left it too long and a sign of much work ahead.
Why not create a maintenance checklist if you are feeling overwhelmed?
Add your required service dates and include a regular self-cleaning and maintenance routine that will ensure you stay on top of everything with the minimum of fuss.
The winter months can offer a timely reprieve and opportunity to get on top of your maintenance schedule. On top of this, you need to prepare your vessel for the coming months of idleness. Some important preparation will make it easy to get back on the water when the warmer months arrive again.
Engines need to be winterised. Inboards have their own set of processes you can use. Drain and replace the oil and if possible, flush the engine with fresh water. Remove the spark plugs and wipe down the engine with a cloth dipped in WD-40.
Outboards are simpler. Run fresh water through the engine, disconnect the fuel hose and run the engine until it stops. This will ensure all fuel is drained from the carburettor and prevent build-up of deposits from evaporating fuel.
Fuel tanks are notorious for allowing condensation to form over long periods. Always check your inline fuel filter and water separator for moisture. If you are not using the boat for a period of time, fill the tank to avoid these problems.
Don’t forget your trailer!
Your trailer is an important consideration which is often neglected. Constantly in and out of salt water, your trailer also requires some tender loving care. Regularly check the wiring. At an opportunity when your boat is off the trailer, repack your bearings. The golden rule applies to trailers too. Wash your trailer with fresh water after every use.
Time and time again we have witnessed beautiful boats being neglected. What you sow you will reap. If you want a reliable boat that turns over every time. A boat that gleans on the water. A boat that is safe and comfortable. Keep to a regular maintenance schedule and you will find that boat ownership remains a pleasure and not a hindrance.