Use these boat maintenance tips, and your fishing machine will look and run like new.
When it comes to our fishing boats, we take immeasurable steps to fight saltwater corrosion, mitigate UV radiation, and wage war against regular old wear and tear. For many of us, our boat is more than a mere tool – it’s a symbol of our freedom that shines as brightly as the stars and stripes. At least, we want it to shine like that. But saltwater, sunshine, and time take a severe toll on our boats, turning them from gleaming to glum. Luckily, you can stem the flow of time and ensure that your boat ages as gracefully as Christie Brinkley – or at least that it seems to have aged that well, even if there is a little modern technology being pumped in under the skin. All you need to know are these seven secrets of boat maintenance.
- Get Fresh – We’re sure you already know that flushing your outboard after use in saltwater is mandatory. But few boat owners flush properly, and on a religious basis. The flushing should occur within an hour after use if at all possible. Otherwise, the salt crystallizes and is tougher to rinse away. And five minutes should be considered the absolute minimum amount of time required to dissolve all the salt deposits. Check out Flushing Adds Years to Outboards, to learn more. And don’t move on so fast – when you flushed, did you also rinse the salt off the cowl? Take the time to sluice off that outboard and give it a quick washdown with a boat soap containing carnauba wax, so the finish stays shiny and protected until next weekend.
- Electric Storm – Bad wiring can be a major-league hassle on any boat. Prevent it from becoming a hassle you have to deal with, by coating each and every electrical connection on your boat with a dielectric corrosion inhibitor like CorrosionX or Boeshield T-9, at least once a year.
- Cushion Care – Most marine cushions have a life span of five or so years, and it isn’t cheap to replace them. But it doesn’t have to be this way. You can prevent UV damage and mildew issues (and double the cushion’s lifetime) if you simply remove them from areas where they’re exposed to the sun and rain while your boat sits during the workweek. And of course, you should apply a vinyl protectant at least twice a season.
- I-C-U – Isinglass and clear vinyl curtains are another part of a boat that rarely gets treated as it should and commonly wear out after a few short years. Again, this needn’t be. Remember that this stuff scratches, and if you clean it with a dirty rag or a scrub brush it’ll look hazy after a single season of use. When not in use take the curtains down, roll them up like a tube, and stow them where nothing will compress or flatten the material. Get the complete scoop by reading The Scoop on Clear Boat Canvass.
- Wax On – Most people don’t wax metal – but they should if it’s on a boat. Regular paste wax gives an excellent layer of protection to aluminum and stainless steel and will delay pitting and corrosion. Remember, aluminum does have tiny pores and cracks in its surface, and this is where salt crystallizes and eventually wreaks havoc. But wax fills in the gaps, so the salt rinses away. Just be careful of the areas you wax, because they will become slippery. Cleats and step treads, for example, should be left untreated for obvious reasons.
- Mildew Madness – Mildew may not cause any real physical harm to your boat, but it looks awful and can smell. There are lots of boat cleaners out there, but few (if any) will clean tough mildew off of all surfaces. The trick to killing off the ‘dew? Spray-on oven cleaner, such as Easy Off. But be careful, because this is tough stuff and it can stain or cause colors to bleed. Don’t let it sit for hours on end as you would with a stove, but test an inconspicuous spot first and then spray it on and give it just a few minutes to work. If dark stain rings still remain around the edges where the mildew was, saturate the area with lemon juice and give it a few minutes to soak in before scrubbing.
- Fuelish Behavior – Ethanol is the bane of boaters and can cause innumerable problems. Luckily, there’s a simple maintenance measure you can take that negates the effects of ethanol fuels: add a proven fuel treatment like Techron Marine, every time you fill the tank. It’ll not only take care of ethanol issues, but also clean your injectors, intake valves, and combustion chambers.
There you have it – seven boat maintenance tips that will help keep your boat running like a champ and looking like a beauty queen, year after year after year.
Hey Christy, wanna go for a boat ride?