The summer months are here, and boat sales are heating up. For many first-time owners, proper maintenance is an alien concept. We’ve all seen people operate boats, but most are unaware of what happens afterwards. Here are a six basic maintenance guidelines to get you started:
- Cleaning: Marine growth on the hull can negatively effect your boat’s performance by up to 30%, according to www.seetheyachts.com. Taking your boat out of the water regularly and washing it with detergents made specifically for boats can prevent this. Once a year, at least, you should scrub the entire hull with a brush. If you do end up getting growths, you can contact a professional cleaner.
- Motor: After every use, you should flush the engine out with water. Be sure to check everything for corrosion, rust, or other damage frequently, and keep an eye on the oil levels. If there is any damage, be sure to take it in to a certified repairman ASAP.
- Battery: According to takemefishing.org, if your boat has an electric motor, charge the battery after every use. If the battery is used only to start the motor, check it on a regular basis and charge as needed. Make sure to keep the battery clean, as dirt can adversely affect performance. Most importantly, you can damage your battery by either undercharging or overcharging it, so be sure to do it correctly.
- Safety: You should always have a life vest for every person on board, accurately sized and in good condition. These should be checked frequently for damage. Examine the pressure gauge on your fire extinguisher and replace if the needle is out of the green or there is any damage. Make sure you have the required emergency equipment and confirm that your certification is up-to-date.
- Special Care: Different types of boats have different care instructions, and it’s important to find out if there is any special care necessary for your boat. For aluminum boats, rivets should be checked for damage and leaks should be repaired by professional welders. Fiberglass boats can be fixed with sealant, but can’t be stored in sun or snow.
- Winterize: It is vital to winterize your boat at the end of the season to prevent costly damages. Details on how to winterize your boat can be found in your manual. Steps include: cleaning a boat inside and out, removing the battery, prepping electronics, adding fuel stabilizer, taking steps against mildew, and covering the boat, according to Cliff Gromer for www.popularmechanics.com.
Remember, always read the owner’s manual and warranty before deciding to undertake any maintenance and don’t be shy in enlisting professional help if you don’t feel comfortable doing something on your own. Most importantly, take good care of your boat and it will take good care of you in the years to come.