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4 Basic Tips for DIY Boat Maintenance

4 Basic Tips for DIY Boat Maintenance

It does not take much to keep your vessel in the best possible condition. By keeping your pride and joy in great working order, you will reduce your chances of a breakdown, while slowing the depreciation of your boat. If you apply some basic do-it-yourself rules, your vessel can remain in the same cosmetic appearance as it was when you first set your eyes on it.


There are many simple maintenance aspects that power boat and yacht owners overlook. The consequence of not looking after your boat can affect how often you spend time on the water and, in some cases, increase your overall maintenance costs.


The general rule of thumb is that you will spend 10 percent of the value of your boat on maintenance costs, including mechanical needs and upkeeping the appearance of the boat, which both directly affect the resale value. No matter the boat size—five feet or 150 feet—proactive owners should consider these preventive maintenance tips.


Wash downs


The marine environment is one of the harshest surroundings. If your boat is wet berthed, it will increase the corrosive nature of salt water and the elements. Therefore, it is essential that you rinse your vessel after every use and wash down with a ph-neutral biodegradable boat wash. Salt on metal fittings start the corrosion process and once dry salt becomes abrasive on your boat’s gelcoat or paint. Also, consider using a dock water filter or softener to make sure the water you are using is of the highest quality, as this will ensure a spot-free rinse.


Tip: After arriving home from a long trip, your boat will be covered in salt. Add a splash of vinegar to your wash bucket and this will help cut through the salt. Vinegar is also a great alternative mould remover.


Engine room and bilge


Your engine room and bilges are the heart of your vessel. If you keep them dry and clean, it will be easy to spot any service requirement issues, such as oil, fuel and belt dust. Observing an issue early will reduce your chances of an on-water emergency and often save you money in the future. Any water that collects within your hull, either fresh or salty, is not good for your boat. If you are able, have a taste of the water in your bilges. This will give you an indication of where the water is coming from and help you to isolate the source of the problem.


Tip: Before filling water tanks on your boat, run your hose for a minute or two to clean out the line. Hoses sitting in the hot sun are often prone to growing bacteria.



DIY Regular Checks


Before heading out on the water, take a few minutes to have a look over your engine room to become familiar with your ideal coolant and oil levels. Check your belt tension. Observe any signs of leaking. It is advisable to lay down oil absorbing pads, as this helps to identify where and when an issue may have occurred. Additionally, check your sea strainer regularly for debris, as fragments can be sucked into the cooling system and restrict performance.


Tip: If you are not using your boat for extended periods of time, you should at least start the engines every week or fortnight. This keeps the water flowing around the engine and minimises the corrosion. At the minimum, consider taking the boat for a run once a month to ensure the engine(s) heat up to running temperature.


Marine Growth


The underside of your hull is not regularly seen, so it is often overlooked and forgotten. If you are not using your boat, marine organisms will start growing at a high rate and often grow on running gear and intakes. Marine growth can have effects on engine performance and fuel efficiency, while increasing downtime on your machinery. The more you use your boat, the less growth will occur. Your antifoul paint, while repelling underwater aquatic life, is designed to expel marine growth while underway.


Tip: If you are not using your boat, schedule a diver to regularly clean your hull approximately every six to 12 weeks.


Keeping regular checks and maintenance on your boat will keep it in good working order and will provide you with trouble-free boating when you are out on the water. Happy Boating!


By Jonathan Rodgers, Etiquette Marine 


Important Note:

Although the above tips are based on actual experience, they do not replace professional advice from your authorized service agent. Always check the owner’s manual for specific instructions that pertain to your specific boat brand and model.