Cabin-Fever Boat Jobs

Keep your boat ready for next season with three wintertime tasks.

Ok, it’s January, and unless you live way down south, your boat has been tucked away for winter. Need an excuse to date your “favorite girl”? Here are three simple, productive wintertime tasks.

Clean, charge and store to ensure batteries are fresh come spring. Remove the cables (negative first); clean the terminals with a wire brush or terminal brush and a paste made from water and baking soda. Check the water levels of flooded electrolyte batteries and top them off with distilled water. West Marine's 2A marine battery maintainer ($69.99, will keep a single battery topped off all winter without overcharging it.

Fuel Fill and Deck Plate Gaskets
What could go wrong here? Plenty. That rubber can harden over time and allow rain or spray to leak into the tank. Check its condition, and if you need a replacement, note the brand of the fill. Then check with a marine supplier to order a replacement gasket. If it's a simple O-ring, you might even find it in a well-stocked conventional hardware store.

Canvas Snaps
Check all of the snaps and zippers on the canvas and covers. It's easy to replace both sides of a snap with kits from a marine retailer ($20 to $40 for a lifetime supply, plus special pliers). Apply light oil or candle wax to snaps to inhibit corrosion. Lubricate all of them and the zippers on the covers. Now you can go home to plan the new season, because spring is coming, at last.