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
1. Morning dew is distilled water: Wipe off your boat with it and it will be ­spot-free. Boating Magazine
50 Boating Tips & Tricks
2. For a mirrorlike shine, remove last season’s wax with a dewaxing solvent before applying wax this spring. Boating Magazine
50 Boating Tips & Tricks
3. Want a green alternative to bleach? White vinegar kills mold. Apply with a spray bottle. Boating Magazine
Gojo hand cleaner
4. Need to clean a RIB or shore-power cord? Citrus pumice-style hand cleaners work well. Boating Magazine
3M Finesse-It
5. Have a scratched windshield, clear-vinyl curtains or sunglasses? A fine polish like 3M Finesse-It works well (so do counter-top polishes). Boating Magazine
orbital polisher
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. Boating Magazine
50 Boating Tips & Tricks
7. Oven-cleaner spray will remove paint and adhesive residue from gelcoat without damaging it. Boating Magazine
cardboard splash guard
8. Make a splash guard from cardboard when using a drill-operated paint mixer. Boating Magazine
putty knife scraper
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! Boating Magazine
paint mixer
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. Boating Magazine
inverted anti-fouling paint
12. Invert a can of ­anti-fouling paint the night before painting to help get the solids in solution prior to mixing. Boating Magazine
masking tape
13. For a crisp waterline, “burnish” masking tape by rubbing its edges down with a dowel or paintbrush handle. Boating Magazine
aerosol paint can
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. Boating Magazine
safety pin
16. A safety pin makes a good tool for removing a bad hydraulic steering seal — which is usually a “quad ring.” Boating Magazine
duct tape
17. There’s lots of talk about pantyhose and duct tape serving as a spare emergency belt: Why not just carry the spare belt? Boating Magazine
primer bulb
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. Boating Magazine
PVC tubing
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. Boating Magazine
adding fuel helm pump
20. Free play in hydraulic steering can often be eliminated by simply adding fluid to the helm pump. Boating Magazine
engine belt
21. Check engine belts for proper tension; also look for cracking and glazing, which are harbingers of failure. Boating Magazine
exhaust system
22. Exhaust systems carry a lot of ­water; check all fasteners, supports and plumbing to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning, as well as sinking. Boating Magazine
23. T-clamps are more expensive but clamp hoses evenly; worm-gear hose clamps can distort. Boating Magazine
prop shaft
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. Boating Magazine
penzoil marine premium plus
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
Boating Magazine
green works soap
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. Boating Magazine
green hose
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. Boating Magazine
sterndrive tilt
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. Boating Magazine
dock lines
30. Monitor your boat through a few tide cycles after first launching to make sure you’ve ­correctly adjusted the dock lines. Boating Magazine
anchor shackle pins
31. “Mouse” anchor shackle pins with stainless-steel or Monel seizing wire or with a tie-wrap as shown. Boating Magazine
white dinghy
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. Boating Magazine
3M adhesive sealant
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. Boating Magazine
crevice corrosion
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. Boating Magazine
deck plate and o-rings
35. “Mysterious” leaks are often the result of failed deck plate and hatch O-rings. Order new parts from the plate’s manufacturer. Boating Magazine
fuel fill cap
36. Check the chain, thread and O-ring on fuel fill caps to help protect the fuel tank from water intrusion. Boating Magazine
locking pliers
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. Boating Magazine
drilling fiberglass
38. Masking tape will help prevent chipping when drilling holes in fiberglass. Boating Magazine
39. Leftover caulk? Sticking the ­cartridge tip into ­petroleum jelly provides a better seal than a nail. Boating Magazine
starbrite transmission fluid
40. A 50/50 mix of acetone and automatic transmission fluid is a great solvent to free corroded fasteners. Careful, it’s volatile! Boating Magazine
liquid wrench
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. Boating Magazine
baby powder
42. Rigging redux: Coating cables with baby powder makes them easier to pull through the boat. Boating Magazine
diehard battery
43. Top off ­batteries with distilled water, available at a drugstore. Want a free source? Drain your dehumidifier. Boating Magazine
white cooler
44. A wet towel, folded and doubled, can be placed under a cooler to keep it from sliding around. Boating Magazine
boat helm
45. Is glare at the helm impairing your visibility? Place a dark towel or shirt under the windshield. Boating Magazine
Sacrificial anodes
46. Sacrificial anodes that are more than half wasted away need to be replaced. Boating Magazine
wiring connections
47. Create a loop at wiring connections with a tie-wrap to prevent inadvertent pulls on the wire from disabling the equipment. Boating Magazine
bic lighter
48. Check the operation of a fume detector by holding an unlit butane lighter under the sensor and depressing the lighter’s valve. 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. Boating Magazine
boat skipper
50. A great skipper always uses his excellent judgment so as not to be forced to show off his amazing skill. Boating Magazine