Daily, monthly and seasonal boat care practices are essential for caring for your boat. Not only will proper boat maintenance extend the life of your boat and reduce the need for costly repairs, but it also helps ensure boating safety for all those aboard.
- If you don’t use protective anti-fouling paint to repel barnacles in saltwater, make sure you remove your boat from the water every few days. This will prevent build-up of algae and barnacles. Scrub and wash the boat while it is wet and before putting it back in the water.
- If you use your boat in saltwater, give it a freshwater rinse after each day of fishing. Use plenty of soap and water and rinse thoroughly.
- If using an electric motor, charge the battery immediately upon returning from your fishing trip.
- If you use a battery to start your main engine, check the battery frequently and charge it as required.
- Be sure to flush your engine after every outing, and check everything from your fuel tanks to clamps on your fuel line for rust, damage or corrosion. Also be sure to check your oil for correct levels as well as proper filtration and cleanliness. Last, but not least, keep an eye on your engine's cooling system to make sure it's functioning correctly
- When cleaning your boat, check for any loose fittings and rivets, cracks, or other parts that need care, special attention or replacement. Fix these immediately or get the boat to a qualified marina for a detailed check-up.
- If you don’t like to spend time washing your boat, remove all fishing tackle, seat cushions, electronics and other accessories, then run the boat through a high-pressure car wash or one of the do-it-yourself washing bays. Because of the fittings on boat trailers and some boats, avoid using brush-style car washes.
- Use special metal cleaners and scrubbers to maintain easily corroded chrome, aluminum or stainless steel fittings. This is especially important around saltwater.
- Another crucial aspect of boat maintenance is ensuring that your bilge pump is functioning properly. There's not much that can cause more irreparable damage to a boat than having it sink. In the event that you need to use your pump, you'll also want to make sure that your battery system contains enough power to support running the pump for a prolonged period of time.
- If you have a wood boat, check it carefully each spring and fall for possible damage or rot. Be particularly vigilant in corners, under decks that might stay moist, along the waterline and at the back of the boat (transom). If you can remove your boat from the water, place it on blocks or turn it over for wintering.
- Scrub all boats at least once a year, more often if used in saltwater. You can use a regular brush for aluminum boats, but check with your marina or boat supply retailer for special gentle soaps and tools for scrubbing gel coat or fiberglass without damage.
- Use special fiberglass boat polish to maintain the finish of your fiberglass boat and preserve its value.
- Aluminum boats require little care, but many are assembled with rivets. Make sure that you check all rivets to prevent leaks. With the boat in water, use a permanent felt tip marker or chalk to mark those rivets or areas that leak.
- Many boating failures occur as a result of corroded electrical systems, so keeping electrical components dry should be a regular part of your boat maintenance routine. Electrical fittings can be protected with a water-repellant, nonconductive grease or corrosion inhibitor.
- Consider a Boat Cover; a boat cover can prove itself invaluable for boats stored outdoors, keeping water, leaves, animals and bird droppings off of sensitive areas of your boat.
- Keep abreast of local regulations, know important boating terms and definitions, learn proper boat maintenance and skills and stay on top of the weather forecast to ensure safe outings.
Boat Motor Maintenance
It's easy to keep your outboard in tip-top shape, even if you're not a mechanic. A little TLC and preventive boat motor maintenance help you safe safely and can keep your motor running well so you can keep finding fish for years to come.
After Every Trip
- After every outing, flush out the engine. This doesn't just apply to saltwater adventures, but to fresh water outings as well.
- Buy a set of "rabbit ears" - two flexible rubber seals connected with a metal clamp. Slip the apparatus onto the lower unit where the water is picked up and attach a garden hose.
- Start up the engine and let the water pump do the rest. (Remember to stay clear of the prop and make sure no one tries to shift the motor into gear.)
- While you're flushing the motor, check the water pump to be sure it has good water flow. Carefully put your finger through the stream of water. It may be warm, but it shouldn't be hot. If the output is not strong, you may have some debris stuck in the outflow tube. Immediately shut down the engine to prevent overheating and damage.
- Insert a small piece of wire into the flow tube and work it back and forth. Start the engine again and check the output. If that doesn't solve the problem, you may need a new water pump.
- After flushing the engine, disconnect the fuel line and allow the engine to burn all the fuel in the carburetor.
- Once you've finished the flushing and run the engine out of fuel, be sure to turn off the key and, if you have a battery switch, turn it off.
- Take the engine cowling off and check for fuel or water leaks. If you find leaks, consult a boating mechanic.
- Wipe everything down and spray with an anticorrosive like WD-40 or Quick-lube. Be sure to lubricate all the moving parts such as the shift and throttle cables, carburetor valves, etc.
- Replace the cowling and wipe it down. Keep a canvas or plastic cover on the engine between trips.
- Always use fresh fuel. At the end of the season, boat motor maintenance should include draining your tanks and taking the fuel to the proper recycling authority.
- Periodically check the fuel line for cracks and worn spots.
- Make sure the fuel primer bulb is not cracked and is pliable.
- Make sure the fuel-line fittings seat properly and don't leak.
- Check the clamps on the fuel line for rust or corrosion.
- Check the fuel tanks for damage and corrosion.
- Check the tank vent to make sure it aspirates properly.
- Check regularly for water in the fuel.
Common Engine Maintenance How-To’s
How to change your oil filter
Youtube embed: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4PVqRU51-mE&list=PLf84KT-M5wa-mZtKyCYiQW4QWV8TM-hmC&index=2
How to change the Lower Unit Lubricant
Youtube embed: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=deOXu2cfXKE&list=PLf84KT-M5wa-mZtKyCYiQW4QWV8TM-hmC
How to change the water pump impellor
Youtube Embed: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AbQHB3puWrA&list=PLf84KT-M5wa-mZtKyCYiQW4QWV8TM-hmC
How to Prevent Fuel Separation
Youtube embed: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3RlxnF5UxR8&list=PLf84KT-M5wa-mZtKyCYiQW4QWV8TM-hmC
Hull and Electronics Maintenance
Depending on the type of battery your boat uses, check to ensure that it is properly charged and has the correct fluid levels. Also be sure to keep your battery clean, because dampness and dirt can also drain your battery.
Another crucial aspect of boat maintenance is ensuring that your bilge pump is functioning properly. There's not much that can cause more irreparable damage to a boat than having it sink. In the event that you need to use your pump, you'll also want to make sure that your battery system contains enough power to support running the pump for a prolonged period of time.
Many boating failures occur as a result of corroded electrical systems, so keeping electrical components dry should be a regular part of your boat maintenance routine. Electrical fittings can be protected with a water-repellent, non-conductive grease or corrosion inhibitor.
Mooring TipsOne of the most common ways a boat can get scratched and damaged is not when it's in use, but when it's being docked. Make sure lines are securely fastened, neatly coiled and do not show signs of breakage or wear.
Storage & Winterization
Make sure you protect your boat through an effective winterization routine.
Check the owner's manual for your boat and motor for manufacturer's recommendations on winterization. The following is a general outline of areas that should be of concern to you.
- Run the engine to warm it up and change the oil while it is warm.
- Change the oil filter.
- Flush the engine with fresh water.
- Circulate antifreeze through the manifold.
- Change the fluid in your transmission.
- Remove spark plugs and use fogging oil to spray into each cylinder.
- Wipe down the engine with a shop towel sprayed with a little fogging oil or WD-40.
- Thoroughly inspect the stern drive.
- Drain the gear case and check for excessive moisture in the oil.
- Clean the lower unit with soap and water.
- If your stern drive has a rubber boot, check it for cracks or pinholes.
- Grease all fittings and check fluid levels in hydraulic steering or lift pumps.
- Flush engine with clean water using flush muffs or a similar device attached to the raw water pickup.
- Let all water drain from the engine.
- Wash engine down with soap and water and rinse thoroughly.
- Disconnect fuel hose and run the engine until it stops.
- Use fogging oil in the cylinders to lubricate the cylinder walls and pistons.
- Apply water-resistant grease to the propeller shaft and threads.
- Change the gear oil in the lower unit.