It's springtime! And for boaters, that can only mean one thing:
More time on the water!
But when's the last time you showed your Everglades boat some TLC? Scrubbed her hull or checked her oil? If your answer is "Um...?" it's been too long. Regular boat maintenance is not only good practice, it's imperative. Making it your number one priority will give you peace of mind, as you're more likely to catch minor issues before they become bigger - and potentially costly - problems. There is nothing worse than having an idyllic day on the water cut short by something that was entirely preventable. With proper mechanical care, cleaning and detailing, and appropriate daily storage, you and your family will enjoy your boat for years to come.
So let's cover the basics!
Anything with moving parts must be maintained routinely to ensure it continues running smoothly. Treat your boat as you would any vehicle, and schedule regular engine check-ups.
20-hour engine service: While this service is fairly basic, it is essential, and covers the checking of fuel lines, your battery, trim tilt, your oil levels, spark plug caps and leads, as well as many other standard engine parts.
100-hour engine service: This checks all the same items as the initial 20-hour, but also pressure control valves, cooling systems, impeller and pump housings, oil filters and internal/external anodes.
Additional servicing: It's always a good rule of thumb to schedule engine maintenance every 100 hours, so here are some best practices you can employ in between check-ups to lengthen the life of your boat:
- Check battery connections to make sure they are clean and tight, and regularly apply a corrosion inhibitor, such as those offered by CRC. Failure to do so can cause irreparable damage.
- Always check your fluid levels before pulling away from the dock. An extra five minutes at the dock can save you hours later.
- Inspect all through hulls before every use.
- Flush your engines after EVERY use!
Keeping Your Boat Clean
When it comes to keeping your boat looking like new, it's all about prevention: by rinsing and washing down your boat after each use - regardless whether you boat in fresh or saltwater! - you can stop buildup before it starts.
Avoid using bleaches and other harsh cleaners on smooth surfaces, especially your hull. These chemicals remove the wax, and thus expose it to the elements. Be sure to use an ammonia-free soap like Joy instead.
Have your hull waxed at least once a quarter. Wax helps protect the surface of the hull and provides a mirror-like finish, making it more difficult for dust, dirt and grime to cling to it. If your hull is hazing, 3M offers a number of products to help revitalize the luster. If you prefer to wax your boat yourself, WikiHow has a great step-by-step guide to get you started.
Use vinyl-specific cleaner for upholstery. Other cleaners might show immediate results, but using such substances will break the material down over time. For tough stains and deep-down grime, Mr. Clean Magic Erasers can be your secret weapon, with very little elbow grease!
Keep glass surfaces clean with specific glass cleaner. A simple, inexpensive vinegar solution works as well, and you can try it here.
Storing Your Center Console
While the convenience of in-water storage is obvious, industry professionals recommend dry-storage for long-term stowing of your boat. UV rays from the sun can cause irreversible damage to cushions and vinyl quicker than you think, and immersion in saltwater for extended periods of time will rot and corrode the exterior of your boat.
If you do store in the water, having the bottom of your boat painted is a good idea, as this will help prevent growth. (For tips on how to safely apply bottom paint, watch Boating's how-to video.) A good practice to adopt is removing your boat at least once a month to scrape and clean any growth, check your sacrificial diodes, and inspect for other damage.
If it's the best of both worlds you're after, installing a lift is the way to go. A lift will keep your boat dry and shielded from the sun, while allowing you to get on the water as quickly as possible.
Have questions or comments, or other maintenance tips you'd like to share with the Everglades Boats community? Click below and we'll add your suggestion to the list!
See you on the water!