|Are you conducting a regular maintenance and servicing schedule on your boat to ensure you, your friends and family's safety at sea?
Poorly maintained vessels result in problems at sea which can be disastrous. Breakdowns, battery and fuel problems on boats account for over 50% of the calls for assistance that Coastguard receives every year.
Below are the 10 top maintenance tips that we suggest you do to help you enjoy boating safely.
1. Wash your boat regularly with fresh water.
This removes any salt water buildup that can be very corrosive on your boat and equipment. DeSalt is a great product for removing existing buildup, and for flushing the motor.
2. Service your engine at least once a year.
Don’t wait until everybody wants to get their boats serviced. Spark plugs should be changed with your engine service. You should carry a spare set including a sparkplug spanner on your boat.
3. Check the water pump from your motor regularly to ensure a strong discharge.
Everytime you start your motor, make sure that water is being discharged from the motor. A blocked cooling system can quickly overheat and destroy a motor.
4. Check your battery each season.
Batteries cause the most headaches for boat users - about one quarter of all incidents attended by Coastguard volunteers relate to flat batteries. Check your battery is charged, that it continues to hold charge, and is kept topped up with distilled water. Make sure that the connections are not corroded or loose.
5. Check fuel lines at least 4 times a year.
Make sure that there are no cracks in your fuel line and that any connections are not corroded.
6. Check your oil 3-4 times a year.
Check the oil level regularly, and keep an eye on the oil colour. Like in a car, if it's starting to turn dark make sure you change it.
7. Check your propeller for damage or rubbish.
Make sure that there is no fishing line wound around your prop and make sure that your prop is not damaged. A damaged prop can be very fuel inefficient.
8. Check the hull for any visible signs of damage.
Look for any unexpected scratches and dents and look inside the boat for water leaks. Make sure the bung plugs still fit securely and check that the navigation lights and bilge pumps are working correctly.
9. check the trailer frequently as well as the boat.
Have a quick scan of the trailer immediately after launching your boat. Check that the rollers are in good condition, winch cable is secure, lights working and that corrosion is minimal. Check out our other tips for checking over your trailer here.
10. Finally be sure to check all joints and connections to keep them secure.
You should do a boat walk through (inside and out) about 3-4 times a year to look for normal wear and tear and to keep a general eye out for problems. Also check all ropes for wear and tear or damage.
And #11: Make sure you're sorted with a Coastguard Membership. Despite everything, and even with the best maintenance in the world, things can (and do) go wrong. If you run into trouble out on the water, Coastguard will have your back - 24/7, our trained volunteers are on-call. Click here to sign up.