50 Top Boating Tips & Tricks | Boating Magazine

50 Top Boating Tips & Tricks

Use these 50 top boating tips to improve your skills and become a better boater.

50 Boating Tips & Tricks

50 Boating Tips & Tricks

Boating Magazine

With almost two centuries worth of combined boating experience and a workaday world spent in boatyards and boat factories and aboard boats, the Boating Tech Team has a storehouse of tips rivaling the Strategic Petroleum Reserve in size and as deep as Deepak Chopra. These 50 gems could represent a slim 20 minutes of your time spent perusing, in return for untold hours of happy boating.

50 Boating Tips & Tricks

50 Boating Tips & Tricks

Boating Magazine

1. Morning dew is distilled water: Wipe off your boat with it and it will be ­spot-free.

50 Boating Tips & Tricks

50 Boating Tips & Tricks

Boating Magazine

2. For a mirrorlike shine, remove last season’s wax with a dewaxing solvent before applying wax this spring.

50 Boating Tips & Tricks

50 Boating Tips & Tricks

Boating Magazine

3. Want a green alternative to bleach? White vinegar kills mold. Apply with a spray bottle.

50 Boating Tips & Tricks

50 Boating Tips & Tricks

Boating Magazine

4. Need to clean a RIB or shore-power cord? Citrus pumice-style hand cleaners work well.

50 Boating Tips & Tricks

50 Boating Tips & Tricks

Boating Magazine

5. Have a scratched windshield, clear-vinyl curtains or sunglasses? A fine polish like 3M Finesse-It works well (so do counter-top polishes).

50 Boating Tips & Tricks

50 Boating Tips & Tricks

Boating Magazine

6. For safety, always move an orbital polisher in the direction of its rotation, usually clockwise (or left to right). The machine may jump if the pad strikes an obstruction when used opposite its rotation.

50 Boating Tips & Tricks

50 Boating Tips & Tricks

Boating Magazine

7. Oven-cleaner spray will remove paint and adhesive residue from gelcoat without damaging it.

50 Boating Tips & Tricks

50 Boating Tips & Tricks

Boating Magazine

8. Make a splash guard from cardboard when using a drill-operated paint mixer.

50 Boating Tips & Tricks

50 Boating Tips & Tricks

Boating Magazine

9. Scraping paint or caulking? Use a file to round the ­corners of a putty knife “scraper” so it won’t gouge; you can sharpen its edge too!

50 Boating Tips & Tricks

50 Boating Tips & Tricks

Boating Magazine

10. Punching holes at “N-S-E-W” around a paint can’s rim allows paint to drain back into the can and ensures a better seal for the lid.

11. You can make a drill-operated paint mixer by installing long screws through the end of a stick and then ­whittling the other end down till it fits the drill’s chuck.

50 Boating Tips & Tricks

50 Boating Tips & Tricks

Boating Magazine

12. Invert a can of ­anti-fouling paint the night before painting to help get the solids in solution prior to mixing.

50 Boating Tips & Tricks

50 Boating Tips & Tricks

Boating Magazine

13. For a crisp waterline, “burnish” masking tape by rubbing its edges down with a dowel or paintbrush handle.

50 Boating Tips & Tricks

50 Boating Tips & Tricks

Boating Magazine

14. To fix a clogged ­aerosol paint can nozzle, remove it and soak in mineral spirits for an hour. Then install on a can of lubricant and spray to finish the cleaning.

15. To prevent clogging of aerosol anti-fouling nozzles, shake the can per the directions and, when done spraying, invert the can and spray until the stream is clear.

50 Boating Tips & Tricks

50 Boating Tips & Tricks

Boating Magazine

16. A safety pin makes a good tool for removing a bad hydraulic steering seal — which is usually a “quad ring.”

50 Boating Tips & Tricks

50 Boating Tips & Tricks

Boating Magazine

17. There’s lots of talk about pantyhose and duct tape serving as a spare emergency belt: Why not just carry the spare belt?

50 Boating Tips & Tricks

50 Boating Tips & Tricks

Boating Magazine

18. Primer bulb doesn’t get hard no matter how much you squeeze it? Replace it, and buy a spare, plus clamps, to carry aboard.

50 Boating Tips & Tricks

50 Boating Tips & Tricks

Boating Magazine

19. A section of rigid hose or PVC tubing, cut to length, can protect outboard and sterndrive prop shaft splines from damage during storage and transport.

50 Boating Tips & Tricks

50 Boating Tips & Tricks

Boating Magazine

20. Free play in hydraulic steering can often be eliminated by simply adding fluid to the helm pump.

50 Boating Tips & Tricks

50 Boating Tips & Tricks

Boating Magazine

21. Check engine belts for proper tension; also look for cracking and glazing, which are harbingers of failure.

50 Boating Tips & Tricks

50 Boating Tips & Tricks

Boating Magazine

22. Exhaust systems carry a lot of ­water; check all fasteners, supports and plumbing to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning, as well as sinking.

50 Boating Tips & Tricks

50 Boating Tips & Tricks

Boating Magazine

23. T-clamps are more expensive but clamp hoses evenly; worm-gear hose clamps can distort.

50 Boating Tips & Tricks

50 Boating Tips & Tricks

Boating Magazine

24. If you find ­fishing line wrapped around the outboard or sterndrive’s prop shaft, have the unit pressure-tested to ensure the oil seals haven’t been compromised.

50 Boating Tips & Tricks

50 Boating Tips & Tricks

Boating Magazine

25. Use this handy reference for pre-mixing oil and gas at a 50:1 ratio.

Gas Oil
1 gallon 2.5 ounces
6 gallons 16 ounces(1 pint)
10 gallons 26 ounces

50 Boating Tips & Tricks

50 Boating Tips & Tricks

Boating Magazine

26. Liquid dish soap applied to carpeted trailer bunks will help the boat slide off more easily at a shallow ramp.

27. Tow tip: Wipe your boat down with liquid soap before a long haul to make bugs and grit easy to remove once you arrive.

50 Boating Tips & Tricks

50 Boating Tips & Tricks

Boating Magazine

28. Filling your water tank? Run the water long enough before filling to eject the water that was left in the hose. Bacteria and mold love to fester in hot hoses.

50 Boating Tips & Tricks

50 Boating Tips & Tricks

Boating Magazine

29. It’s better to keep your sterndrive tilted down at the dock. It doesn’t clear the water anyway, and doing so better protects the ­bellows from barnacles and deterioration.

50 Boating Tips & Tricks

50 Boating Tips & Tricks

Boating Magazine

30. Monitor your boat through a few tide cycles after first launching to make sure you’ve ­correctly adjusted the dock lines.

50 Boating Tips & Tricks

50 Boating Tips & Tricks

Boating Magazine

31. “Mouse” anchor shackle pins with stainless-steel or Monel seizing wire or with a tie-wrap as shown.

50 Boating Tips & Tricks

50 Boating Tips & Tricks

Boating Magazine

32. To prevent your dinghy from banging the platform and keeping you awake all night, tie a bucket on its painter halfway between boat and dinghy. That way, it will lie to the bucket, not to the boat.

50 Boating Tips & Tricks

50 Boating Tips & Tricks

Boating Magazine

33. Three ways to break the seal of ­polyurethane adhesives like 3M 5200: Heat the fastener with a soldering iron; use wire fishing line the way a chef cuts cheese; use ­oscillating tools like the Fein Multimaster.

50 Boating Tips & Tricks

50 Boating Tips & Tricks

Boating Magazine

34. It’s stainless steel, not stain-free steel. Crevice corrosion attacks stainless where you can’t see it. Fittings ­bleeding rust should be pulled and checked and maybe replaced and resealed.

50 Boating Tips & Tricks

50 Boating Tips & Tricks

Boating Magazine

35. “Mysterious” leaks are often the result of failed deck plate and hatch O-rings. Order new parts from the plate’s manufacturer.

50 Boating Tips & Tricks

50 Boating Tips & Tricks

Boating Magazine

36. Check the chain, thread and O-ring on fuel fill caps to help protect the fuel tank from water intrusion.

50 Boating Tips & Tricks

50 Boating Tips & Tricks

Boating Magazine

37. Locking pliers, clamped tight to a protruding fastener and with their jaws abutting the nut, allow you to gently wiggle the stud until it breaks off clean and burr-free.

50 Boating Tips & Tricks

50 Boating Tips & Tricks

Boating Magazine

38. Masking tape will help prevent chipping when drilling holes in fiberglass.

50 Boating Tips & Tricks

50 Boating Tips & Tricks

Boating Magazine

39. Leftover caulk? Sticking the ­cartridge tip into ­petroleum jelly provides a better seal than a nail.

50 Boating Tips & Tricks

50 Boating Tips & Tricks

Boating Magazine

40. A 50/50 mix of acetone and automatic transmission fluid is a great solvent to free corroded fasteners. Careful, it’s volatile!

50 Boating Tips & Tricks

50 Boating Tips & Tricks

Boating Magazine

41. Make rigging wires, hoses and cables easier by dousing a rag with silicone spray and running the cables through the doused rag before pulling them through the boat.

50 Boating Tips & Tricks

50 Boating Tips & Tricks

Boating Magazine

42. Rigging redux: Coating cables with baby powder makes them easier to pull through the boat.

50 Boating Tips & Tricks

50 Boating Tips & Tricks

Boating Magazine

43. Top off ­batteries with distilled water, available at a drugstore. Want a free source? Drain your dehumidifier.

50 Boating Tips & Tricks

50 Boating Tips & Tricks

Boating Magazine

44. A wet towel, folded and doubled, can be placed under a cooler to keep it from sliding around.

50 Boating Tips & Tricks

50 Boating Tips & Tricks

Boating Magazine

45. Is glare at the helm impairing your visibility? Place a dark towel or shirt under the windshield.

50 Boating Tips & Tricks

50 Boating Tips & Tricks

Boating Magazine

46. Sacrificial anodes that are more than half wasted away need to be replaced.

50 Boating Tips & Tricks

50 Boating Tips & Tricks

Boating Magazine

47. Create a loop at wiring connections with a tie-wrap to prevent inadvertent pulls on the wire from disabling the equipment.

50 Boating Tips & Tricks

50 Boating Tips & Tricks

Boating Magazine

48. Check the operation of a fume detector by holding an unlit butane lighter under the sensor and depressing the lighter’s valve.

50 Boating Tips & Tricks

50 Boating Tips & Tricks

Boating Magazine

49. A squirt of spray lube can return an electric horn to blaring service. The diaphragms get coated with salt and don’t vibrate. Soak them good.

50 Boating Tips & Tricks

50 Boating Tips & Tricks

Boating Magazine

50. A great skipper always uses his excellent judgment so as not to be forced to show off his amazing skill.

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