If you’re a boater, you know that spring is the time to get ready for your next season of adventure on the water. Whether you’re a newbie or a seasoned veteran, proper maintenance is essential to keeping your boat in good working order throughout the summer.
Check The Battery
When you go to take your boat out for a spring trip, it’s important to check the battery. After sitting in dry dock or in a garage during the winter, your boat’s battery might need a recharge or even a replacement.
During your spring maintenance, you should clean the battery housing and terminal posts using spray cleaner or WD40 to remove dirt and corrosion. Next, check your electrolyte levels in the battery and add distilled water to the internal plates of each battery if needed. Your marine batteries will last a long time when you keep them clean and in good shape. This will help you get the most out of your spring trips and ensure your boat will be safe for everyone to enjoy.
Check The Bilge Pump
If you own a boat that spent the winter on the hard, it’s important to check the bilge pump before you get back out onto the water. Inspect the discharge hose for kinks or splits that may prevent the bilge water from being pumped out. Also inspect the inlet screen on the bilge pump, making sure it’s free of debris.
A good bilge pump should last a long time and be easy to maintain. It’s also important to replace the impeller and diaphragm if they become worn or damaged. In addition, the bilge pump’s float switch should be in working order. It should activate when the bilge levels reach a specific point, so that it can get rid of excess water and protect your boat from damage.
Check The Safety Gear
It’s important to have the right equipment for a safe and fun boating season, and fines for not having certain equipment aboard can be costly. During this process, you’ll want to check the life jackets, fire extinguishers, flares and signaling devices. Make sure they’re in good condition, have a current expiration date and are sized correctly for the people on board. It’s also important to ensure that all the ropes and lines are in good condition and replaced if they become damaged. Damaged ropes can be dangerous and cause your boat to float away from the dock. You can also check the horn and any other signaling devices to ensure that they work properly and are sized appropriately for everyone on board. This is important because it can help you get to shore in the event of an emergency.
Clean The Interior
Cleaning your boat doesn’t end once you’ve washed the exterior hull — the interior elements also need to be cleaned. Here are three areas of your boat that need to be cleaned on a regular basis:
The non-slip fiberglass on your boat can become dingy and grimy over time, so it is important to keep them clean. To keep them looking fresh, you can use a soft bristle brush and water or an all-purpose cleaner to wipe off any dirt or debris that has built up.
While spray-wax products work well on headliners and salon couches, a dedicated vinyl cleaner should be used to clean your seats and upholstery. This will remove stains and keep your marine carpets looking shiny and new.
Mold, Mildew & Odor
It is also important to regularly wipe down the boat to remove any mold, mildew or odor that may have accumulated over the season. This can be done by using disinfecting wipes or by applying a mildew and odor removal solution to a rag and then wiping down the interior of your boat.
Clean The Exterior
Often overlooked, but essential to a properly maintained boat, the exterior of a boat needs to be cleaned periodically throughout the season. This can include the gelcoat, canvas, upholstery, and brightwork.
Fiberglass boats need special attention to the gelcoat, which is the tough glossy finish that protects the underlying fiberglass from salt and sun exposure. If not kept in top shape, gelcoat will quickly turn chalky and can be a huge pain to get back to looking like new.
The hull of a boat also needs to be cleaned regularly, especially if it has algae or scum buildup on the surface. Use a pressure washer to remove dirt and grime, then wipe down the hull with a soft brush. In addition to the hull, the decks and sides of a boat need to be clean as well. The teak, a durable tropical hardwood, should be scrubbed occasionally with a mild cleaner designed for the wood.
The vinyl, the most common material used for furniture and outdoor seating, also requires routine cleaning to prevent mold and mildew from developing on it. This can be done with a sponge and mild, soapy water, but you should avoid using harsh cleaners that contain bleach or ammonia.
Clean The Engine
The engine is the heart of your boat, so it’s important to clean and lubricate it well. A dirty engine can reduce fuel economy, clog your filters, and wear out your components. A clean engine is also safer and more enjoyable to work on, so it’s worth taking the time to get yours looking its best before you head out on the water. It will also increase the resale value of your boat if you ever decide to sell it.
Start by applying a degreaser with a sprayer to the entire engine bay. It’s a good idea to cover sensitive areas with plastic baggies, including the air intake sensor and spark plug openings. Once the engine is covered in degreaser, hose it off. Be sure to protect the fenders, and don’t overspray the degreaser on them as it will remove the wax that coats them. Next, you’ll want to check for leaks. Look for indications of leaking hydraulic steering fluid or trim fluid in the cylinders and hoses as well as at the lower-unit seals.
Check The Props
Action item number one: check your props for any dings, cracks, or distortions. This will help you identify any damage that might be affecting your boat’s performance in the water and can even lead to a loss of control. Another simple but important check is to make sure the cotter pins on your propeller are properly secure. If not, it’s possible that they may have come loose from your propeller and have been causing you problems.
If you find any damage to your prop, it’s a good idea to take it to a repair shop. This is especially true of bent props, as they can usually be repaired and made like new. It’s also a good idea to replace your anodes at least once a year to protect the prop shafts and your boat’s electronics from corrosion. Your anodes will deteriorate at different rates depending on your marina, type of water, and the amount of time you’re in saltwater.
Categorised in: Boat Maintenance
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