A Boating reader asked 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 question. 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.
Open and close seacocks regularly. Besides an annual disassembly and lubrication, constant use will keep them in shape and will alert you to problems before they become catastrophic.
Check your zinc anodes for corrosion. While you may have been in the same slip for years without problems, you never know when your marina’s wiring or your neighbor’s boat has developed an electrical problem. If they have, it’s your problem too. Stray current can eat up underwater metals quickly. So make this check a part of your regular routine.
Lube grease fittings and linkages. Spray engine, fuse blocks and ground buses with products, like Corrosion Block or Boeshield T-9, that dry to a waxy film. Spray lubes that stay wet attract grit, making more of a mess.
Writing down your impeller numbers, fuse sizes, bulb types, filter elements and other parts along with performed service like filter changes and pump rebuilds will prove a valuable reference over time.
Check filters visually, if you have a clear bowl, or by draining the contents into a clear glass jar. Like salad dressing, water and gas will layer, making water easy to see. Mark the date of service on the filter with a grease pencil for quick reference.