Maintenance is an important part of owning a boat. Even though boats today are designed to be as low-maintenance as possible, there are still several things you need to do to keep your craft in good condition and prevent incidents on the water.
Not sure where to start? Read on for Drive a Boat Canada’s guide to boat maintenance. Note that there are many different types of boats and engines, so in addition to following these general guidelines, it’s always a good idea to check your owner’s manual for specific instructions about care and maintenance.
It’s important to clean the exterior of your boat regularly. In addition to keeping your boat looking its best, regular cleaning helps prevent mildew and erosion. It protects the boat’s structure and prevents the spread of invasive species as you take your boat from one waterway to the next. Cleaning your boat can even help save fuel—a dirty hull increases fuel expenditure by as much as 30%!
It’s a good idea to wash your boat down after every one or two excursions. This will help keep buildup to a minimum and make periodic in-depth cleaning easier. Always use fresh water when hosing down your boat.
If your hull is made of fibreglass, it will usually have a gel coat finish that protects it from salt water, sun and the elements. Gel coats need to be waxed and polished a few times a year to remain in good condition. A gel coat with an oxidized, chalky appearance is a sign that it needs a wax!
Canvas is a general term for the types of fabrics commonly found on boats, from tops and covers to sails. Canvas and upholstered seating should be washed periodically with a light brush or sponge, mild soap and fresh water to prevent mildew. If mildew stains appear despite your best efforts, you can try to eliminate them with Oxy Clean diluted with water.
Vinyl is a fabric that is often used on boats because it is durable and easy to clean. Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) is often used to create clear window-like panels in canvas elements. Note that vinyl and PVC should never be washed with strong ammonia or bleach-based cleaning products.
It’s important to perform inspections, checks and maintenance at the beginning of each season to make sure your boat is ready for the water after a winter of disuse.
Here is a checklist of tasks to carry out before taking your boat out for the first time in the spring.
There are a few things you should do every time you go out to make sure your boat remains seaworthy.
Before every trip, check to make sure you have enough fuel, oil, and battery power. Make sure your bilge pump and water intake are free of debris, and check your hull for damage. Finally, inspect your propeller. Check for damage, debris and fishing lines, and make sure it’s well secured to prevent it from coming loose on the water.
Regardless of where you’re boating, it’s important to flush your engine with fresh water after every trip. This prevents salt from corroding the internal components of the engine in saltwater, and eliminates sand, mud and debris in freshwater. Some boats have built-in flushing systems. For those that don’t, devices called flushers are available for purchase.
Some elements of your boat should be checked and maintained periodically throughout the season to make sure everything remains in good working order.
At the end of the boating season, a certain amount of maintenance must be done to prepare your boat for winter storage.
There are a few different options for storing your boat over the winter.
Annual maintenance rarely costs more than 10% of the boat’s original price, and often much less, particularly early on in its lifespan. Of course, maintenance costs vary depending on the size and type of boat and how often it’s used.
Now that you know how to care for your pleasure craft, it should be easy to keep things shipshape! With proper maintenance, you can extend your boat’s lifespan and prevent unfortunate incidents like your battery dying on the water.
Don’t forget that in order to operate a boat on Canadian waters, you’ll need your Canada boating license, which you can obtain from Drive a Boat Canada when you pass the online boating exam!