You’re enjoying a smooth day out at sea. You’re enjoying the sun and a light breeze. You and your family are sprawled out on the cushions, getting tanned and loving the salt life.
When it comes time to head inshore, you turn the key in the ignition — only to hear a high-pitched whining in return. Your engine won’t turn on, and you guys are stuck. After getting pulled in by a fellow mariner, you slap your palm to your forehead and think, “Why didn’t I do the proper boat maintenance?”
Don’t let this happen to you!
If you own one of the 12 million registered boats in the U.S., you need to take care of it. That way, you can be part of the 141.6 million Americans who went boating in 2016 alone. You deserve a fun, safe, problem-free adventure — and so do your passengers.
Keep reading for some maintenance tips you need to check off before and after every trip out at sea.
1. Use the Correct Cleaners
Most boats have a gel coat on them that lasts quite a while.
However, during routine cleaning and extended use, the coat will start to wear. You can prevent early erosion by using the correct types of cleaners. If you are using regular cleaning solutions, make sure to dilute them.
Additionally, eco-friendly soaps will ensure nothing harmful gets into the ocean.
2. Get Rid of Moisture Every Time
After you’ve cleaned your boat with fresh water, remove every bit of water.
Sponge up any excess water near drains. Use a towel to wipe every surface.
Seawater is corrosive, it can cause mildew to form, and it also stains. Take the extra time to thoroughly get your boat dry before storing it.
3. Do Regular Oil Changes
Just as you change the oil on your car every 3,000 miles, your boat needs consistent oil changes, too.
The timing of this varies per model, so be sure to check your boat’s manual for details. You can even change the oil yourself if you’re inclined. Consult with the folks at Boat Planet for more info on DIY maintenance (or where to find pros).
4. Flush and Check the Engine Often
The engine requires a lot of care and consideration.
You need to flush the engine for every trip you take, whether saltwater or freshwater. Additionally, inspect the hoses and lines, add lubrication if and when necessary, and change its fuel, too.
Test the engine for leaks and inspect it often for cracks or damage.
5. Test the Bilge Pump
The bilge pump is what keeps water from collecting in your boat’s interior — so it’s safe to say it calls for regular check-ups.
Make sure nothing is clogging the pump and that no harmful oils are coming out of it. As this goes straight into the water, it’s not only unsightly and detrimental to marine life, but it’s illegal.
Boat Maintenance = Smooth Sailing
This list isn’t exhaustive, so make sure to check out your boat’s manual for more.
It’ll tell you in even greater detail when to change the oil, what fuel to use, how to treat the battery in the off-season. . .
Boat maintenance is worthwhile if you want to improve the longevity of your craft and keep using it for years to come.
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