Boat Maintenance Tips for Newbies

There are fun parts about being a boat owner, as well as other parts that aren’t so fun. Maintenance would certainly fall under this latter category. But just because it isn’t fun, doesn’t mean you can ignore it. And as a new boat owner, understanding how to perform the proper maintenance actions can mean the difference between having a boat that runs in tip-top shape and experiencing problems and failures on what’s supposed to be a relaxing day on the water.

Preventative vs. Reactive Maintenance

All boat maintenance can typically be placed into one of two categories:

  • Reactive Maintenance. This type of maintenance focuses on fixing things after they’ve already broken or malfunctioned.
  • Proactive Maintenance. This type of maintenance emphasizes fixing and maintaining systems and elements before they break as a way of preventing failure.

Many boat owners respond in a reactive capacity. They wait until something goes wrong and then they deal with it. This is inconvenient, frustrating, and expensive. Instead, the focus should be on preventative maintenance. And though it may cost more initially, the long-term benefits are more than enough to justify the upfront investment of time and resources.

5 Smart Boat Maintenance Tips

As a new boat owner, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by all of the maintenance items that need to get done. But if you adopt an intentionally proactive approach, you’ll do just fine. Here are a few tips to consider:

1. Keep Your Boat’s Hull Protected

Don’t take your boat’s hull for granted. If you want your boat to operate well and hold its value, you must give it the attention it deserves.

“Seasonal boat maintenance should include restoring the antifouling properties on your boat’s hull and bottom,” Wholesale Marine mentions. “This is true for every watercraft, from inflatables to pontoon boats. However, be aware that boat bottom paint is not a one-type-suits-all proposition.”

Your first step is to determine precisely what antifouling boat paint is right for your vessel. It depends on a variety of factors, including the type of water (fresh, salt, or brackish), the material (aluminum, steel, fiberglass, or wood), and the type of paint you want (ablative, hard, thin-film, water-based, or ablative self-polishing). You may need to consult with a professional to figure out the right option.

2. Change Your Oil on Schedule

It’s easy to ignore an oil change. Everything seems to be running fine and you don’t want to go through the whole process. But changing your oil on schedule is one of the keys to keeping your boat running smoothly.

It’s definitely a good idea to learn how to change your own oil, but you may need someone to guide you through the process the first time. If you don’t feel comfortable doing your own maintenance, you can always hire someone at the marina. It shouldn’t be overly expensive.

3. Always Check Your Engine

Get in the habit of always doing a visual inspection of your engine before going out on the water. This includes checking the bilge pump and hoses for any signs of leaks. Check water coolant levels, too.

4. Maintain Your Battery

If your boat has batteries, don’t leave them in the boat over the off season. Take them out, clean them up, and store them somewhere safe and dry. Before putting it back into the boat for the season, lubricate metal bolts and terminals.

5. Wipe Down Boat Seats

“It is important to wipe down and clean your boat seats regularly to help prevent dirt, salt water, mold and mildew from damaging them over time,” BoatingForBeginners.com explains.

The best way to wipe down boat seats is to fill a bucket three-quarters of the way up with fresh water and add a quarter cup of soap. Then take a wet cloth/sponge and wipe the seats down in a circular motion. (Don’t let the water pool up on the upholstery.) Next, take a separate bucket of fresh water and wipe away any remaining suds. Finally, dry with a microfiber cloth.

Adding it All Up

There’s nothing fun about boat maintenance, but it comes with the territory. If you’re willing to own a boat, you must also be willing to take care of it. And while you have every right to be reactive in how you care for your boat, an investment in intentional preventative maintenance will yield consistently positive results.

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