A member of the boatingmag.com forum recently started a thread asking how he could take more responsibility for his boat’s maintenance than simply turning it over to the dealer with instructions to “do what needs doing.” This list was prompted by that thread. It’s not complete, nor is it designed to forego any factory-recommended service. Rather, it’s a sampling of the “routine” maintenance that we members of the Boating Tech Team perform on our own personal boats.
A hot day, right after washing the boat, is the perfect time to rejuvenate the water repellency of your canvas by applying a product like Star brite Waterproofing with PTEF ($20.99, westmarine.com).
Mask and Fins I
While you’re at the sandbar or rafted with friends, dive overboard and inspect the boat’s bottom. Usually, the transom can stand a scrub to remove fouling, since not much “washing action” occurs there. Ditto for the scum line above the painted waterline. You may also have a layer of slime on your boat’s bottom. The trick is to remove the growth without removing too much bottom paint. We use a scrap of shag carpet with good results. It removes soft growth without scuffing off too much paint. For hard growth, like barnacles, use a paint scraper with the corners filed round to prevent gouging. Or, buy the Dirty Bird Scraper ($42, topshelfmarineproducts.com) with rounded corners, a prop shaft notch and a pick for cleaning intakes.
Mask and Fins II
Also check out your prop for damage and look for line wound around the shaft.
Before buying a new fixture, clean the socket and contacts using 220-grit sandpaper wrapped around a stick. You can also purchase replacement sockets. If you do replace the fixture, consider upgrading to energy-saving LED lights like those from Lumishore (lumishore.com) or SeaSense (seasense.com).
On a dry, windy day, open the hatches, pry off deck plates and let the boat breathe, to reduce moisture and the chance for corrosion and mildew.