Is Your Boat Worn Out?

Ten tips to perk it up.

Will your boat be the belle of the ball come spring, or will it be a blind date with bad breath, an awful dress, and legs that need a shave? If your relationship with your boat is on the rocks, here are 10 ways to rekindle the flame.

1. Worn and Cracked Rubrails
Learn to maneuver your boat better around the dock, but in the meantime, a new rubrail will bedeck and protect your sheerline. Replacing the rub strip also gives you the chance to patch and reseal the hull-to-deck joint.

2. Smelly Cabin
You can’t blame the dog for everything. Lift deck and cockpit hatches to bring the breeze aboard. Replace musty carpet and ratty hull liners. Replace mildew-laden PFDs. Open the anchor rode locker door and let the line dry.


3. Turn of the Screw
You won’t see an owl and seagull mate. So why mix Phillips and flathead screws on fittings and hardware? Your boat will tell the tale if you steal screws from one place to fix another.

4. Duct Tape
Great to have aboard for emergencies, but if shiny-gray tape covers 75 percent of your boat, it’s time to peel and fix.

5. Cheaper Than Radar
If the view through your boat’s clear-vinyl windows reminds you of a foggy day on Nantucket Sound, while outside your wife is tanning on the sundeck, replace the windows. See No. 4, if the seams are sealed with duct tape.


6. Faded, Split and Soggy Upholstery
Do your cushions make whoopee noises when you sit on them? Get new ones. And how many times can you pull into the yacht club sitting on Bart Simpson beach towels?

7. Light Up
Navigation lights are crucial from sunset to sunrise and in the midst of rain squalls or fog. Vessels less than 39.4′ require side lights to be visible from one mile, stern and masthead lights from two. Check the lenses on your lights. Are they foggy, hazy, or cracked? Stash replacement lenses and a few spare bulbs, too.

8. Squashed and Blackened Fenders
If scrubbing with soap, water, and bleach doesn’t help, buy new ones. Invest in washable covers and keep them properly inflated – they will last for years.


9. Ratty and Frayed Docklines
As with dirty sweatpants, wear them outside and everyone thinks you’ve given up. Your boat deserves better. Wash your docklines at least once a season by soaking them in a mild solution of detergent, bleach, and water. Skip the bleach if your lines are colored.

10. Gauges on the Fritz
Just because your engine is running doesn’t mean it has the proper oil pressure and water temperature. Replace faulty gauges promptly. It costs a lot less than buying a new engine.