After a big day out on the water it can be tempting to get home and park the boat thinking you will come back to it after you’ve had a chance to relax. Then one thing leads to another and some important tasks get missed.
While it’s not a fun part of boating, making sure the boat, motor, and trailer are properly cleaned after each outing and stored properly is important. It ensures they will last much longer, help you avoid expensive repairs, and significantly reduce the chances of breaking down while you are up the river or out at sea.
Cleaning Your Boat, Outboard, and Trailer After Each Use
Leaving salt water to dry on your boat wears down the finish and greatly increases the risk of corrosion. As a minimum, after every trip you should thoroughly wash down your boat with fresh water. Remember to cover your electronics when doing the interior and to take out your bungs so trapped water doesn’t pool in the hull.
You should also flush your motor with fresh water after every use. Corrosion from salt water is a leading cause of breakdown. Plus, look a little lower and check the propeller to make sure there has been no damage during your outing.
Finally, most trailers have been treated to prevent corrosion but it still helps to give it a rinse off with fresh water anyway. Be sure to check your tyres, wheels and connections to ensure no damage has occurred during the journey.
When You Are Not Using Your Boat
Ideally, you should store your boat under cover where it is not exposed to the elements – although we understand that is not always possible. If that is the case, at least invest in a good quality boat cover as sitting in the direct sun can damage the coating on your hull and other components such upholstery. Also, when it rains, water can pool in the hull.
If you are not taking your boat out regularly, don’t just let it sit for months on end. There is still some essential maintenance to attend to. If you live on the coast you have probably noticed that items like outdoor furniture corrode very quickly when exposed to ‘salty’ air. The same applies to your boat and motor.
Whether you have used your boat or not, it is a great idea to wash it every month with a cleaner designed for your type of hull to remove grime, grease, salt and dirt. If you have an aluminium hull, you will need to make sure you have a specialised cleaning agent as some multipurpose detergents contain chemicals that will corrode aluminium even more than salt.
Likewise, if you haven’t used your boat you should still run your motor with it hooked up to a hose at least every few weeks. While you are at it, check your battery to ensure it is fully charged and that the posts aren’t corroded. Plus, check fuel lines which can get cracked and damaged over time especially if they are exposed to the elements.
Before You Head Out
Before you leave home with your boat, the first thing is to ensure that you get to the boat ramp safely in the first place. Check your trailer for any defects, make sure that all lights are working, and that the boat is securely in place.
Check your battery and motor as at the boat ramp or out on the water is not the time to find out you have a leaky fuel line or dead battery.
Also ensure that all your safety equipment is working and/or in good condition. Not only may it save your life, it could also save you a hefty fine.
- Bilge pump
- Life jackets
- Navigational lights
- EPIRB (and battery)
Taking good care of your boat, trailer and motor is really a matter of being aware of what can cause unwanted and unnecessary damage and taking the time to take some simple preventative measures. Doing so will help you minimise the chances of mishaps and expensive repairs and help you enjoy hassle-free boating.