Maintain Your Boat's Value. Really. It's Important.
It’s just a very good idea to keep your boat in tip-top shape. Not only will you enjoy it more, but you’ll be protecting the sizable investment you’ve made in what is still one of the greatest long-range buys in family entertainment. And when it’s time to get a newer or bigger or faster or somehow better boat, you’ll have a top-value boat for trading up – or a like-new boat you decide to keep instead.
Here are some tips for keeping your boat in good shape from the inside out.
Engine and Electrical System
Sometimes very minor things get overlooked in the rush to fun that make a big difference. You can often take care of these inexpensively and avoid a much higher cost later.
• Change the water pump impeller annually – a cost as little as $35 plus labor.
• Have the gear case lubricant changed annually in the lower unit. If the old oil looks milky, it contains water. Check all seals to see where the water is entering. If the oil is a relatively clear green or gold, just change it. Do this operation before winter storage so you’re reminded to check the seals.
• When storing the boat for winter, spray the wiring and motor with a protective spray.
• Be sure the battery is correctly installed and cables are clean and corrosion-free. Disconnect the battery in winter and keep it in a dry place. In spring, give it a slow charge to bring it back.
• Install a battery shut-off switch and turn it off after every time you use your boat. This eliminates possible shorts and resulting fires.
• Be sure all wiring is properly installed. When adding accessories, add circuit breakers rather than piggybacking on existing wiring. Make all connections with marine grade heat-shrunk connectors to prevent corrosion.
• Because today’s fuels containing ethanol are more likely to attract water, install a fuel-water separator to protect your gas. And always use fuel stabilizer.
• Every time you go out, listen for abnormal vibrations or sounds from your engine. Check the telltale stream that flows out the back or from the side. You should both see and hear the stream that indicates the water pump is working properly. If anything seems amiss, have it looked at promptly.
Canvas and Upholstery
Keeping your boat dry is the most important thing. Make sure your boat cover is always in good shape and working properly. (See the directory of cover and upholstery services beginning on page 34.)
• Wash your cover at least twice a year, using only water or a gentle soap like Woolite, Palmolive or Ivory – not detergent, which will remove the water repellent treatment. Do this by hand or in a large washing machine at a laundromat to ensure a thorough rinse.
• Check after a rain to be sure the cover is still repelling water. The fabric’s original water repellency should last five to seven years. Re-treat as necessary with 303 Fabric Guard or a similar product. Be sure the cover is thoroughly clean before treating, or the repellent won’t adhere.
• Clean upholstery at least two or three times a year with vinyl conditioner – more often if needed. The conditioner applies a film that keeps vinyl from drying out and prolongs its life. Use 303 Cleaner and Vinyl Conditioner or a similar product and apply sparingly.
• Make sure the boat’s interior stays dry to prevent mildew – very difficult to get rid of. Already have mildew? Use Greased Lightning, ammonia or peroxide to remove it from the outside, but be ready to scrub again when it comes back. Rinse thoroughly, treat with vinyl conditioner and leave the boat in the sun frequently to aerate.
• Roll plastic windows for storage over the winter or lay them flat. Don’t fold. Use towels between layers to protect from scratching.
Fiberglass and Gel Coat
Keeping your boat covered is the best thing you can do. A good, custom-fit boat cover will save you lots of money. But even if you have to buy a $15 tarp, keep your boat covered to minimize damage from the sun. For a list of service providers who can handle these tasks for you, see “Cleaning/Detailing.” For repairs to your Fiberglass or Gel-Coat, click here.)
• Clean and wax the hull at least twice a year using a high-quality carnauba paste wax.
• Every few months, loosen hardware around the seats, boarding ladder and other stress points. If fittings are loose, re-seat and recaulk to make sure no water is getting into the hull around the fittings. This will prevent rot in the wood underneath.
• Sand and apply bottom paint every two to three years to keep debris from clinging to the hull.
• Every time you come out of the lake, rinse the hull and wipe down. A few minutes of extra care before replacing the cover will pay off in keeping your boat clean and dry.
• If you shrink wrap your boat for winter, make sure it’s completely drained, and pay a little extra to have vent holes in the shrink wrap to prevent mildew.