Regular and periodic maintenance and servicing will keep your boat in tip-top shape and earn you the envy and admiration of your friends, neighbors and others. Regular maintenance also ensures that you don't have to deal with major breakdowns or expensive repairs in the long run. Some helpful tips and suggestions are listed here, which will help you maintain your boat in a good condition.
Regular washing and cleaning. It is important to wash and clean your boat regularly, especially if you sail in saline environments such as the sea. Make sure to wash the boat thoroughly with fresh water, if you've been for a sail on the briny, to remove all the salt. For cleaning, use cleaning products recommended for boats specifically. Using generic cleaning products may mar the finish of the boat.
Mooring the boat. Docking and mooring your boat in the correct manner will help in avoiding scratches and dents which can occur when you move your boat in or out of its docking space. The docking lines should be regularly checked for wear and tear and be properly coiled when the boat is docked.
Battery. Check that the battery is sufficiently charged and battery fluids are at the appropriate adequate level. Keep the battery clean and free of any moisture and/or dirt.
Engine and motor maintenance. This is absolutely critical for the prolonged well-being and performance of your boat. The checks listed below should be followed after every trip:
- Flush the engine after every trip - this is done by simply switching on the engine and allowing the water pump to do its work as below. The gear should be in neutral and the area around the propeller is free of any obstructions. Once the flushing is complete, disconnect the fuel line and run the engine till all the residual fuel in the carburetor is fully used up. Once done, shut off the engine as well as the battery switch (if separate)
- Check that the water pump is working correctly - water flowing through the pump should be warm and not hot. In case of the latter, or if the stream is intermittent, shut down the engine immediately. Check for any collected debris which may be blocking the smooth flow of water by running a small piece of wire through the flow tube. If this also does not help, you may need to replace the water pump.
- Remove the cowling around the engine and ensure there are no fuel or water leaks. In case of leaks, do not attempt to fix them yourself, instead, have an authorized mechanic fix it.
- Wipe away moisture and dirt from all surfaces and spray with a good-quality anti-corrosive. Clean and lubricate all valves, cables and other moving parts.
- Replace the cowling once done and cover with plastic or canvas when the engine is not in use.
Regular maintenance checklist. Keep the following checklist handy when you undertake periodic maintenance on your boat:
- No cracks or worn spots on the fuel line
- Fuel primer bulb is pliable and free of cracks
- There is no leakage from the fuel line fittings
- Clamps on the fuel line are rust-free or corrosion-free
- There is no damage or corrosion on the fuel tanks
- Tank vent is unblocked and aspirating freely
- There is no water mixed in with the fuel
Other checks. While these need not be done weekly, it is recommended that the checks listed below, be carried out at least two times in a year, if not more. These checks should cover:
- Electrical systems
- Fuel system
- Fire extinguishers
- Safety equipment
- Personal Flotation Devices (PFD)
- Bilge pumps
- Ground Tackle
- Corrosion Prevention
Keep your boat in top-notch condition by following the instructions listed in this article. Important fact: Regular cleaning and maintenance of your boat cuts down your fuel and operating costs by as much as 20-25%!! Now isn't that a good deal?