5 Ways to Keep Your Boat in Tip-Top Shape

A boat is an investment. When you protect this investment over time, it holds its value. If you forget to care for your boat – or treat it recklessly – it quickly goes down in value. So, it’s absolutely imperative that you use the right processes and techniques to keep your boat in tip-top shape.

Dining boat

5 Boat Upkeep Tips

Whether you own a pontoon boat or a yacht, cleaning, maintaining, and caring for your boat is a necessity. When you’re diligent in each of these areas, your boat will perform better, last longer, and hold its value for many years. In light of this, here are a few suggestions:

1. Protect Your Engine

Your boat’s engine is the heart and soul of the vessel. If something happens to your boat’s engine, you’ll find yourself (a) unable to use your boat, and (b) saddled with an expensive repair bill. But with the right preventative maintenance, you can greatly reduce the risk of problems. Here are some steps you can use to keep your engine in top condition:

  • Inspect and clean the onboard fuel/water separator.
  • Inspect fuel lines for cracking and replace when needed.
  • Check and test the primer bulb for cracking.
  • Replace lower unit gear case oil and gaskets as needed.
  • Check power trim fluid levels regularly and top off when necessary.
  • Bleed the hydraulic steering system if needed, grease the prop shaft spline, and remove any foreign objects or debris (such as fishing line) that is caught behind it.
  • Inspect the propeller and look for signs of damage or misalignment. If needed, send to boat repair shop for realignment.

These are just a few suggestions. Depending on the type of engine you have, you may need to add some additional action items to your to-do list.

2. Clean the Hull

Keeping your boat clean does more than make it sparkle and shine. It actually protects your paint job and helps your vessel retain its value. But before you go slapping soap on the hull and grabbing the closest sponge, take time to figure out the best approach.

“A huge decision that you need to make – and one that should be taken carefully – is what cleaning agent to use,” Mate Series advises. “Experts in the industry, such as the likes of the American Boating Association, suggest steering clear of those cheap, concentrated detergents as they’ll do more harm than good to the finish. So, your best bet is environmentally-friendly cleaning products.”

After applying the proper cleaning agent, it’s important to rinse and dry thoroughly. Skimping on either of these could leave you with a dirty, soap-stained hull that looks anything but clean.

3. Check the Boat Battery

Boat batteries can be finicky, which is why you need to inspect yours regularly. In particular, study the terminals and battery connections. If the terminals are corroded, clean them with a mixture of baking soda and water. Then apply some petroleum jelly to the battery post prior to reconnecting. (This latter step helps slow down the rate of future corrosion.) If the water levels in your battery are low, add distilled water to reach the necessary levels.

4. Use the Right Boat Cover

In addition to the boat’s mechanical systems, think about what’s happening onboard. Keeping your boat’s upholstery, dash, and floors in good condition is paramount. Aside from regular cleaning, one of the best things you can do is use the appropriate boat cover when storing at a dock or marina.

There are a multitude of boat covers on the market. When choosing a boat cover, consider the pros and cons of each kind – including custom fit covers, semi-custom fit covers, and universal fit covers. Each offers a unique set of pros and cons.

5. Winterize With Purpose

Winterizing is more than just sloshing in some fuel stabilizer, draining the engine and adding antifreeze. Consider it to be a methodical process that runs from bow to transom,” Cliff Gromer writes for Popular Mechanics.

Read your boat’s manual and familiarize yourself with the manufacturer’s suggestions. Beyond this, talk to other boat owners and staff at your local marina to see what they recommend. A proper winterization process will mean fewer headaches and unnecessary repairs when the weather warms up.

Enjoy Your Boat

Keeping your boat in good working condition is important, but so is having fun. If you spend all of your time cleaning, repairing, and protecting your boat, you’ll never have any time to actually go out on the water and use it with family and friends.

Find the right balance between working on your boat and enjoying it. Too much of either will produce diminishing returns. It’s okay to be responsible and have some fun! 

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