After buying a boat, you may become obsessed with the vessel, taking it out on the water every time you get a chance. For many people, it’s a good investment, and one that can bring years of joy and entertainment. But you can’t just assume your boat is going to last many years—it’s on you to take good care of your boat, and prevent it from breaking down or degrading prematurely.
Fortunately, there are a few simple steps that anyone can learn that collectively have the capacity to keep your boat in good condition for many years, if not decades to come.
How to Keep Your Boat in Perfect Condition
These are some of the most important steps to take:
- Invest in a boat cover. One of the most important things you can do is also one of the easiest: invest in a good boat cover. This cover is going to protect your boat from the elements when you’re not using it, which could mean preventing excessive sunlight and precipitation from wearing down the exterior, or protecting your boat from mold, mildew, and insect damage when you’re storing it indoors for the winter. In any case, get a high-quality, tight-fitting cover for your vessel. You won’t regret it.
- Clean, wax, and polish regularly. Cleaning your boat will definitely make it more aesthetically appealing, but it’s also going to protect it from long-term damage. One of the best steps you can take for your boat, long-term, is to clean, wax, and/or polish it on a regular basis. Depending on your boat’s materials, there may be different approaches to take here. No matter what, if you neglect this step, your boat’s exterior and interior may face continual buildup, or may begin to rust or degrade. It’s much easier to prevent this degradation than to try and reverse it once it’s already started.
- Store your boat in winter (and when inactive). In many areas, boating is a seasonal activity. When winter sets in, you know you won’t be taking your boat out for another few months, so it’s important to prepare your boat for long-term storage. Keep it somewhere climate controlled and dry, and make sure you plug up any exterior openings to prevent animals from making it their home. You’ll also need to store your boat responsibly even if you’re only putting it away for short periods of time. When it’s time to bring your boat out again, make sure you inspect it before putting it in the water.
- Change your oil. Like with any automobile, it’s important to change your oil on a regular basis. Your boat’s engine relies on motor oil just like your car does, and over time, this oil becomes dirty, and increases the risk of clogging and poor performance. Draining the old oil and replacing it with fresh oil is a simple step you can take, and it’s easy to learn (though you can also pay someone to have it done for you). You should count on changing the oil after every 50 hours of continual use, or every 6 months.
- Clean and/or replace your filters. Again, this is a basic maintenance step you can learn and take for yourself. Most boats have multiple types of filters to strain out seaweed and other types of debris you could find in the water, ensuring only clean water gets to the engine to cool it. Inspect, clean, and replace these filters as necessary.
- Note and act on any issues immediately. In any complex mechanical system, whenever there’s a small problem, that problem almost always has the capacity to become much worse over time. A loose component or malfunctioning unit can affect the other units in the system, and quickly spiral out of control. Accordingly, when you notice the first signs of trouble, it’s important to make repairs or bring your boat into a professional—before the problem grows beyond your control.
- Bring your boat in for maintenance regularly. Even if you’re an experienced boat owner, there are probably some maintenance steps and red flags you’re going to miss when inspecting your vessel. Accordingly, it’s a good idea to bring your boat in for a professional inspection (and maintenance) on a regular basis, at least once every season.
Prolonging Your Boat’s Lifespan
These maintenance tips will help you accomplish several goals simultaneously. Your boat will look nicer, since it will be cleaner and free from damage. It will be safer, since it will operate more reliably. And most importantly, it’s going to last you longer; you can extend the lifespan of your vessel by many years just by taking good care of it.