Boat Maintenance 101: Cost + Tricks

It’s all good and well to say that your boat needs regular maintenance. It’s another thing entirely to perform that maintenance and do most of it yourself. Let’s be honest, boating is fun, but boat maintenance, not so much. However, if you keep on top of it by performing regular, small maintenance chores, it’s not nearly as time-consuming.

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

Below are a few top tips for doing that and increasing the life of your boat, engine, and boating gear. (They’ll also lower your boat maintenance cost.) When you’re done researching how to maintain your boat, come to Hide-Away Storage to learn how to store your boat the right way!

Your Boat’s Engine Maintenance

Unless you have a sailboat, it’s vital your engine stays in excellent working condition. Here are a few of the things you can do to make sure it does:

  • Check for water in the fuel once a month.
  • Replace the spark plus once a year.
  • Check all fuel lines to make sure they’re in excellent shape with no cracks or wear.
  • Check the oil level before every boating excursion.
  • Flush the engine with fresh water after every outing. (Unless you go boating only on freshwater. Then you can flush once a month)
  • Inspect all the hose clamps to make sure they’re in good shape.

Keeping Your Boat’s Hull Free of Barnacles

Barnacles are to boats like termites are to your home; you might not see them, but they are doing damage. They can destroy your boat’s hull and also slow you down considerably. (If you have a lot, they weigh a lot.) Here are a few methods to keep nasty barnacles off your hull and keep your boat maintenance cost affordable.

  • Apply a new coat of anti-fouling paint once a year.
  • If possible, take your boat out of the water after every use. (Trailers, a winch system, etc.)
  • Use new paints that make it hard for barnacles to attach. (They’re also more eco-friendly.)
boat maintenance

Taking Care of your Boat’s Electrical Systems

Depending on your boat, you may have a complex electrical system, or you may not. If you do, keeping it working correctly is vital, especially if you go boating offshore. Here are a few tips on how to keep your boat’s electrics in good shape.

  • Make sure no water pools in the engine compartment, under the console, etc.
  • Check regularly for corrosion and clean it off, replacing wires and connections when needed.
  • Never run your fuses at full continuously.
  • Use the power cord locking ring when attached to power at the dock.
  • Make sure your Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) is installed and working.

Boat Maintenance 101: Secure Moving Parts

It sounds silly, but the more moving parts on a boat, the more things can go wrong. That’s why it behooves you to make sure everything is locked down tight before every boating excursion. That includes:

  • The gas tank(s).
  • Any gear or tools.
  • Doors and windows.
  • Paddles, gaff hooks, and life jackets.
  • A bimini top if you have one. (They have a lot of connections.)

Cleaning and Maintenance of Your Boat’s Canvas

Many types of boats use canvas for one reason or another. As a cover, for example, or a ‘wall’ between the cabin and the outside world. The problem; the sun treats canvas very harshly, as does salt, oil, and other stuff. Here are some tips to keep your boat’s canvas clean and looking good for years. They will lower your boat maintenance cost significantly too.

  • Use a canvas fabric guard like 303 Marine Fabric Guard.
  • Remove loose dirt, gunk, and debris by hand (or with a boat brush).
  • Hose down the canvas and use a soft bristle brush to clean it well. (Avoid harsh detergents.)
  • Use a canvas cleaner for more difficult grime and stains.
  • Let your canvas dry very well before storing it in a storage unit or your garage.

Typical Boat Maintenance Costs

This is a tough question to answer. A small Johnboat, for example, will cost a few hundred dollars a year to maintain. On the other hand, a 32-foot houseboat or 52-foot yacht will likely cost a few thousand dollars a year, if not more. Before purchasing a boat, make sure to check with the dealer and manufacturer. That way, you don’t buy so much boat that you can’t afford the maintenance.

What You Need to Maintain Your Boat Yourself at Home

Here are a few of the tools you may need to maintain your boat yourself. (They might just prevent you from being marooned a la Tom Hanks in Castaway!) If lowering your boat maintenance cost is the goal, carrying these tools on your boat is essential.

  • Battery terminal puller
  • Heavy-duty tow line or cable
  • Waterproof flashlight
  • Jumper cables
  • ZIP ties
  • Moisture meter
  • Prop wrench
  • Flare gun and extra flares
  • A basic tool kit
  • A first aid kit
  • Hose clamps of several sizes
  • Electrical wire, wire nuts, and electrical tape

HideAway Storage Has Boat Storage and Storage Spaces

Here in Florida, HideAway is the preferred choice to store your small boast. To start with, we’ve got clean, secure storage units and trailer spaces. With our keypad-controlled front gate, you can come and go as you please. (Just in case you want to leave early or get back late from a day on the water.) No matter what your watercraft of choice happens to be, we wish you all the best out on the water. 

We hope you enjoyed this quick glance over boat maintenance tips. Do you know something that we missed? Leave a comment below and share your knowledge!

Check out more boating tips and tricks on the blog:

This post was published on August 23, 2018. It was updated on March 10, 2021.