Boat Maintenance

WaterwayStore.comThere is nothing that will ruin a perfect day on the water faster than a boat that refuses to run like it should. It doesnít matter if you are in search of walleye, skiing a slalom course or pulling your kids and their friends on a tube, when you have a whole group of people depending on your watercraft as the centerpiece of their day, you want to be sure that it is performing as well as possible. Here are a few tips on boat maintenance that will help you keep your boat running great.


Pre-Season Check

After your boat has been hibernating all winter, it will need some extra TLC to be sure it is ready for the water. Donít skimp on this step, as a little attention at this time can greatly reduce the number of problems you will have later in the season. First, make sure your boat has the proper identification and registration stickers as required by your state to avoid being told by the authorities to pull out of the water.

Begin your boat maintenance check with a thorough cleaning of the boat. This will allow you to view all areas of the craft and check for any visible problems. Look for cracked hoses, missing rivets, flaws in the hull, propeller dings, or evidence of oil leaks. Examine all of your safety equipment at the same time to be sure ropes, anchors, flares, emergency kits, and PFDís are present and in good condition. Note the expiration dates on your fire extinguishers and recharge them if necessary.

Replace the spark plugs in your engine and consider stowing a spare plug in a watertight container on board the boat. All fluid levels should be checked and filled, including that in the battery. Be certain that the battery is charged, check the oil in the propeller gearbox, and lubricate all moving parts on the throttle, steering and shift lever.

When all fuel lines have been reattached and examined for brittleness or cracks, you are ready to test your motor at home using a garden hose and engine muffs. Listen for any roughness in its sound. You may notice some smoking the first time you start the motor. This is most likely caused by the fuel stabilizer, which was added when the boat was stored. Check to be sure the bilge pump is operating, look for leaks in the cooling system, and confirm that your electronic instruments are functioning while the engine is running.

Donít forget to give your boat trailer a going-over during the boat maintenance, too. Check the tires for proper pressure and look for brake wear. Give the tires a spin to be sure the bearings are free and operating smoothly. Put new grease in the wheel bearings by way of the zerks in the hubs. Examine the trailer for rust or other signs of wear-and-tear and verify that brake lights and turn signals are operational. Give the winch a shot of oil to make sure it turns freely. Once you have checked the hitch on your vehicle and the coupler on your trailer for looseness, you should be ready to head for the water. Be sure to replace the drain plug before launching the boat.

During the Season

The best way to keep your vessel in great shape is to clean it regularly. If you use products specially designed for marine applications, you will limit the damage caused by spray, sun and wind. Regular cleaning will prevent the build-up of water spots and mineral deposits as well as algae growth.

Check oil and fluid levels before each outing and keep a sharp eye out for leaks of any kind. Examine the primer bulb on the fuel line to be sure it stays pliable. As with your car, if you catch problems while they are small, you can save yourself a lot of trouble and expense.

Boat Winterization

When boating season is over, remember that a good boat winterization can do a lot to protect your investment. When boat winterizing, remove the drain plug from the boat and raise its nose higher than the stern. This will virtually eliminate any liquid that might freeze during the winter. Fill up gas tanks and add fuel stabilizer to help keep moisture from building up during cold weather. Run the engine with a garden hose for a few minutes to be sure the stabilizer is well distributed through the fuel lines. Most people find it best to leave the spark plugs in place until spring and replace them at that time. Check for any damaged or worn parts and make a list of what will need replacing for the next season.

Use an anti-moisture spray on your trailerís electrical connections. Be sure lights and wiring are thoroughly dried before storing.

Inspect your boat cover for any tears or weak spots and repair as necessary. You may want to get carpet or upholstery work done during the off-season, as well. Mothballs in the interior are good for keeping rodents and insects from using your boat as a nesting place. The ideal storage place is a climate-controlled building, but that can be very expensive. The next-best situation is to keep it in an unheated shed or garage. At the very least, cover your craft with a tarp or canvas, and fasten securely.

With a little effort on boat maintenance and attention to detail, your boat should give you years of service and provide hours of family fun.

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