It’s finally time to dust off the cobwebs, get your boat ready and head out onto the water! If you haven’t used your boat since last season, you probably have some work to do. Follow our boat maintenance checklist to make sure your boat is ready to drop in the water without any issues this summer.
Getting Your Boat Ready After Winter
Getting your boat ready after winter is important because - at the very least - it probably needs a clean, attention to the battery and fuel systems as well as careful checks of all safety equipment.
First, if you covered your boat, check the canvas or tarp for damage and give it a good clean. Look over the boat’s hull, the interior and trailer for any signs of rust, damage or wear. Check that all screws and fittings are tight.
Next, pull out all of your safety equipment. Check if any flares, life jackets or extinguishers have expired or worn out and replace.
Cleaning your Boat After Winter
You want to start the season with a well-maintained but also clean boat. Even if your boat was well covered over winter, moisture, dirt and insects may have made their way in. You need to use different products to clean different surfaces on your boat. Don’t be tempted to use the same cleaning solution on every surface because you could damage some parts.
Start on the outside of the boat by giving the hull a good clean to remove any waterline, leaf or rust stains with a hull cleaner. Severe stains may need a second application.
If the boat seats or any other vinyl items on your boat have any mould or mildew, treat them with a vinyl cleaner and shampoo then use a vinyl polish and restorer. A fabric clean product is also available for cloth seats.
If your boat has a toilet on board, give it a thorough clean and add Toilchem Green Toilet Cleaner to control odours. If any oil or fuel has leaked into the bilge over winter, use a bilge oil absorber to treat the oil or freshen it up with a bilge cleaner.
Decks can be cleaned with a non-skid cleaner or teak cleaner depending on the deck material.
If you have aluminum frames, railings or tanks, use a specialist aluminium cleaner and remember to hose off any cleaned areas to avoid damage.
Replace any sealant that has become mouldy or is breaking down for a fresh look and to keep the water out.
Finally, use a glass cleaner for streak-free mirrors and glass windows.
Starting Your Boat After Winter
To start a boat that has been sitting unused over Winter, we recommend the following:
It’s a good idea to charge the battery if you haven’t used the boat in a few months. Even if the motor starts the first time, the battery may not have enough charge to start the second or third time, possibly when you’re on the water, so don’t take the chance. If the battery is old, replace it.
Lights and Electrical Equipment
Check that all lights, pumps and gauges on your boat and trailer work. Replace any damaged or blown globes and faulty systems.
Read more: How to Rewire a Boat Trailer with LED Lights
The next item to worry about is the quality of the fuel. Over winter the boat’s fuel may have become contaminated with water. The inside of a fuel tank can collect moisture if there is only a small amount of fuel in the tank.
Even if the fuel isn’t contaminated, it may be stale. Within six weeks, unused fuel can become stale making it hard to start the engine and a poor performance. You can extend the life of your fuel over winter by adding a fuel stabiliser before storing. If you didn’t use stabiliser, it’s best to drain and fill with fresh fuel.
Next, start the motor and let it idle for a while then rev for a short time. Use your eyes and nose to check for any fuel leaks. If the engine makes any strange noises, take it to a mechanic.
If everything is in order, you are ready to hit the water.
Boat Maintenance Checklist
Being in and out of the water means boats are exposed to tough environments so regular maintenance is crucial. A checklist ensures you don’t miss anything:
Anodes – check how much of the anode is left and replace if necessary
Propellor and Shaft, Bearings and Seals – check for any signs of damage to propeller or bearings. Make sure the propeller moves up and down smoothly.
Through Hull Fittings – any underwater lights, hoses, clamps or valves should be inspected for signs of corrosion, water ingress and that any wiring is well connected and in good condition.
Ladders and Swimming Platforms – check for damage or corrosion and make sure they are well supported.
Hull – check all over the hull for signs of damage and do a percussion test to the hull bottom.
Decals – check if the boat’s name or registration decals are in good condition and don’t need replacing.
Fluid Levels – check you have enough oil and coolant in the engine.
Spark Plugs – check and clean plugs or replace any that are defective.
Air Cleaners – if you have one on board check it is clean with no contaminants.
Batteries – test and inspect the battery, voltage, wiring and connections.
Monitoring Systems and Alarms – test all gauges and alarms are in good working order.
Next Service Date – check your records to see when your boat’s motor is due to be serviced.
Keep a Record of Your Checklists and Maintenance
It’s important to have a checklist of everything you should do before the boat goes in the water. Even if you are maintaining and using your boat regularly, things can change between trips.
Leave nothing to chance. Know your boat will start when you need it to, that all the safety equipment is on board and you are familiar with all parts of your boat so you can do basic inspections and repairs if required. Keep your own records and checklists makes it easier to keep track of service dates and ensure that your boat keeps running smoothly and safely.
If you have any queries about boat maintenance, call one of the experts at Boat Accessories Australia on 1300 308 161 or contact us online