Boat Maintenance Checklist: 10 Things to Keep a Vessel Seaworthy

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Boat

If you’ve ever felt a sense of peace when being near water, it’s not just in your head. Scientific research shows that being around water can have positive impacts on your mental health.

This leads many people to consider purchasing a boat, so it’s easier than ever to spend time out in the calm serenity of nature.

If you’re nervous to become the captain of your own ship, because you’re not sure if you can handle the responsibility of boat care and maintenance, we’ve got your back.

Read through our handy boat maintenance checklist so you know exactly what you’re getting into before you purchase a boat.

Ahoy!

1. Keep the Exterior Clean

Cleaning the exterior of your boat is about more than making sure it looks great. It also helps protect it from water damage and helps maintain the structure of the vessel, so it lasts for years.

How you clean the exterior depends on the type of boat you own. For example, if you have a fiberglass ship, you’ll need to wax it twice a year.

If your boat is made from tropical hardwood, on the other hand, you’ll need a cleaner made specifically for the wood, to make sure you don’t damage it.

2. Show Some Love to the Interior

While the interior of your ship doesn’t get as much direct exposure to the elements, you still need to show it some TLC.

Make sure you regularly wipe down vinyl seat coverings with a gentle soap and water mixture. To help further prevent damage from sun exposure, store the seats away when the boat is not in use.

3. Prioritize Engine Maintenance

If you don’t pay enough attention to your boat’s engine, you’re at risk of getting stranded out on the water, turning your relaxing boating experience into a nightmare.

It’s a good idea to periodically give the engine a once-over looking for signs of corrosion and damaged hoses. Then, check the fuel level to make sure you have enough for your trip.

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Once you return from your time out on the water, make sure you flush the motor every single time. This helps prevent the build-up of debris, putting a strain on your engine.

Looking for more ways to prolong your engine’s lifespan? This article goes into more detail about the benefits of a fuel water separator.

4. Check the Battery

You wouldn’t expect your car to run with an old, worn-out battery, would you? The same principle applies to your boat.

At a minimum, you should check your boat’s battery once a year, using a multimeter to check the voltage levels. However, if you use your boat often, you’ll want to check it more frequently.

If you notice corrosion built up on the battery connectors, try to clean them off using a wire brush.

5. Maintain Fluid Levels

Your boat relies on key fluids to help make sure it gets you where you want to go. If you don’t check the levels to make sure you have the right amount of fluids, you’ll risk damaging your engine, leading it to break down faster than it otherwise would.

First up, change the oil and the oil filter regularly. If you’re not comfortable doing this yourself, you can take the ship to someone who specializes in boat maintenance services.

You’ll also want to check the coolant levels and power steering fluid, making sure to top them off when needed.

6. Prevent Danger by Checking Electrical Lines

One of the most important parts of boat maintenance is to check in on your electrical lines. These pose a fire hazard if they’re damaged, so being proactive is important.

Check for signs of deterioration and help keep them in good shape by keeping them clean.

Similar to checking the battery, you can use a multimeter to check the lines to make sure they’re working as they should.

7. Don’t Forget About the Propeller

Each time you take your boat out on the water, you should take a look at the propeller first. Make sure it’s tightly secured to your boat for maximum performance.

This is also a good time to check for small dents on the propeller. While minimal damage won’t interfere with how your boat operates, it could lead you to burn excess fuel, which is a drain on your wallet.

Once or twice a year, remove the propeller so you can remove any debris that may be stuck on it.

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8. Replenish Safety Gear

A day spent out on the water should be all about fun and relaxation. However, you should still be prepared for the worst-case scenario. Your boat should always be equipped with safety gear like life jackets and a first aid kit.

Once a year at a minimum, check through your safety equipment to see if anything needs to be replaced or replenished.

If you find yourself in an emergency situation down the road, you’ll be glad you took the time to double-check.

9. Proper Storage Is Key

One of the best things you can do to keep your boat in great shape is to store it properly when you’re not using it.

If you choose outdoor storage, make sure you cover the boat with a tarp to protect it from weather extremes.

Or, give it maximum protection at an indoor storage facility. If you choose to rent out a storage unit for your ship, make sure you pick a location that is secure and behind a gate.

10. Rely on a Professional When Needed

Many of the tips on this boat maintenance checklist are things you can do yourself. However, remember that you don’t have to do it all yourself.

If you’re not comfortable performing all aspects of boat maintenance yourself, you can take it to a specialist, just like you would your vehicle.

Hiring boat maintenance services frees up some of your time and helps make sure you don’t overlook any important issues.

Revisit This Boat Maintenance Checklist as Needed

Now that you’ve read through this comprehensive boat maintenance checklist, you have a better idea of what to expect if you buy a boat of your own.

Once you officially become a captain, make sure to revisit this list so you remember what to do to keep your boat in great shape.

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