Basic Boating Maintenance Tips

Hi, I’m Keith the boating guy. Big, small, basic or souped up, there’s one thing that every boat needs – Maintenance.

Fortunately, routine maintenance and even small repairs aren’t that tough. In the long run, a little elbow grease will definitely pay off.

The first and simplest task is to wash your boat regularly. And if you’re boating in salt water, rinse your boat off thoroughly with fresh water after every outing to remove all of that salt-water residue. As a matter of fact, I grew up right along the gulf coast and we had a boat in salt water. My dad required my brother and I to wash the boat every day whether it needed it or not, so my brother and I got to spend a lot of quality time together as kids.

Now, a long handled boat brush or spray wand makes the job pretty easy. You can find one at your local marine retail store. To protect your boat’s finish, be sure to use soaps and cleaners made especially for boats and a marine grade cleaner. If you’re tempted to let the chore slide, consider this. A boat with a clean hull bottom is more fuel efficient than a boat covered in algae or other aquatic scum. A dirty hull can easily add up to 30% to your fuel cost.

Just like cars, a boat needs to have its oil changed. Four stroke outboards, inboards, stern drive boats require regular oil changes. The frequency will depend on the model, but a good rule of thumb is to change the oil every 100 hours or at least once a year. Unfortunately, there aren’t any quick oil shop stops for boats, so you have to change your boat’s oil yourself or take it to your local dealer. Fortunately, changing your oil in your boat engine is quite easy. In most cases, it’s easier than changing the oil in your car.

First, start the engine up, to warm it up a bit. Turn it off, remove the drain plug, drain the old oil, change the filter, replace the drain plug, and fill the engine with new oil. I strongly recommend using marine grade oil in your boat engine.

Now boat engines work much harder than car engines, and automotive oil isn’t made your protect your boat engine.

If you have an outboard or stern drive boat, you should check the propeller as a part of the pre-launch routine. Use a deep well socket to make sure that the propeller nut is nice and secure.

You should also remove the propeller several times within the season to make sure your discarded fishing line hasn’t been wrapped around the propeller shaft. If it is, have your dealer inspect the gear case because fishing line can cause gear case leaks and gear case service is not a do it yourself job.

Now, while you have the propeller off, inspect it for nicks, dings, or any other damage. It’s okay if your propeller is losing paint, but send it out for repair as soon as it shows signs of impact. The smallest dent can decrease your boats performance by up to 10% or burn more fuel than normal.

Finally, put a liberal amount of waterproof grease on the propeller shaft and reinstall the propeller and hardware in the same order that you took them off. Now tighten the propeller nut to the manufacturers specification.

Obviously, there are maintenance and repair issues that I haven’t touched on, but detailed instructions for most do-it-yourself jobs are readily available.

The bottom line is there’s no reason to be intimidated by working on your boat. Take your time and you may find you can do more than you thought possible.

Good luck out there, take care of that boat, and we’ll see you in the water.

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