Boating Safety & Maintenance: 5 Tips to Keep Your Boat in Shipshape

Boating Safety and Maintenance

All of our lives we repeatedly hear that we “shouldn’t sweat the small stuff”. Safe boaters know that more times than not, it is the “small stuff” that ruins your day on the water. Paying attention to the details makes all the difference between the boats that function flawlessly every time, and the guy who Sea Tow knows on a first name basis. Consider these easy and inexpensive boat maintenance tips to keep your boat in top shape this coming season.

1. Boat Surface Protection

Consider spending all day every day sitting in the sun. Most of us would not make it a week without some serious ill effects. The same goes for your boats surfaces – fiberglass, wood, vinyl or canvas. Special care should be taken to apply protective waxes to fiberglass before it begins to dull out from sun exposure. Just as athletes drink before they are thirsty, applying a little wax on a regular schedule goes a long way, and even using a wash/wax combo product can help. Canvas should be cleaned, dried and re-waterproofed per the manufacturer’s directions to help prevent sagging and tearing from water weight. Lubricate the snaps while you are there. PartsVu has a great selection of products to help you maintain the look and feel of your boat. Sitting on cracked seat cushions definitely does not “feel” comfortable.

SEE ALSO: THE BEST PRODUCTS FOR CLEANING & PROTECTING BOAT SURFACES

2. Steering System Maintenance

Outboard steering systems are not the most glamorous part of your boat. In fact, they are often taken for granted until they fail. Hydraulic systems do require a little maintenance though, and a little labor saves a big replacement bill for a new system. Annually steering systems should be disassembled, greased and re-assembled on your motor. Vent caps have an internal rubber seal that fails over time and can introduce moisture into the hydraulic system resulting in expensive damage. These caps should be replaced on a regular basis according to Teleflex – a leading manufacturer of marine hydraulic systems. Most importantly, your steering cylinder should be lightly soaped and rinsed to remove dirt and salt after use. This extends the life of your ram and your seals.

3. Propeller Maintenance

Props get little attention unless we find ourselves in shallow water. After an impact with a submerged object, props are often repaired or replaced, but many boat owners overlook the propeller as a part of their annual maintenance plan. Just as automotive tires wear over time, so too does a propeller. Having the propeller refurbished to factory condition can sharpen worn edges and reshape distorted blades increasing performance, fuel efficiency and extending the propellers usable lifespan. Ask your service provider if a prop recondition makes sense at your next service interval. See our Maintenance Blog on Propellers and Zincs for details and pictures and how to replace your own propeller and hub.

4. Battery Condition

Batteries are working harder and longer than ever before as manufacturers and end users add more equipment to their boat. Proper care varies depending on the type of battery installed and the intended application. Checking battery physical condition on a regular basis is a good start as swelling or leakage is a good indicator of an impending problem. Properly charging batteries and selecting the right replacement for the amount and type of load are also critical to long life. If in doubt, consult a professional as a weekend trip 30 miles offshore is no time to find out that your battery won’t crank that big four stroke outboard over after running the stereo and depth finder for a few hours.

5. Anchoring System Servicing

Anchoring Systems are an “out of sight, out of mind” component that can make or break a day on the water. Anchor rodes become worn from friction especially on boats equipped with windlasses. In addition, prolonged exposure to sunlight, salt residue, mildew, and other debris can weaken the nylon rope itself. Shackles should be inspected and replaced if they are heavily corroded and difficult to operate. Simply pulling the anchor line completely out from the locker for a good freshwater bath can do wonders. While the compartment is open, check on the end of the anchor line that should be connected to your boat. In an emergency situation where you had to release your anchor line quickly, could you? See our blog on Anchoring Systems.

It is a lot of little things that make for a great day on the water. Exercising your equipment regularly is a great start, but taking for granted that the equipment will function as intended just because it did on the last trip will not last forever. Some boaters are more comfortable asking the professionals to care for their needs, and often that can be a great solution. For the Do It Yourself boaters, PartsVu has some great blogs and videos that help you navigate taking care of your boat. Each of our blogs has a helpful link to the items that you need to do the service, maintenance or purchase those upgrade systems, Buy Now @ PartsVu..

 

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For lifestyle, how-to, gear & technology and inspiration, check out Mercury Marine’s blog – Dockline. www.mercurydockline.com

Topics: Boating Safety,General Repair, Care & Maintenance