Caring for Boat Parts and Outboard Technologies

by Allia Vidmer on June 24, 2010

Perhaps because of the hardier nature of ocean travel, or because of the limited season of use, caring for your boat, its parts and the electronics can be hard and for this your boat can suffer a lot of damage. Ultimately, you will be the one footing the bill, so what are you to do? Educate yourself early on how to care for, and when to replace, your boat parts!

The integrity of the outer hull of the boat is the most important thing to care for, and often the least expensive (though if any replacements are necessary, it can get very costly, so proper and timely maintenance is key!). The hull is the key to your vessel; it keeps the whole thing afloat in a very literal sense. Every season, this should be thoroughly inspected; holes or wearing down of the wood or fiberglass should be inspected often. At the end of the season, all barnacles and seaweed should be removed to prevent damage to the boat, and the hull should be retreated, whether that is seal coating or painting. This is also a good chance to ensure that there are no breaches in the hull; even a small hole can allow water into the craft which, other than potentially sinking the craft, it can increase pressure on the engine, throw off the balance of the boat, and lower the buoyancy which decreases speed. Any scratches or gouges should be repaired as they happen to prevent expensive and extensive damage to the boat.

After the hull, the engine represents your largest financial investment and should be cared for properly. To maintain the engine blades, when the boat is at rest the blades should always be lifted out of the water and visually examined for nicks or caught debris and allowed to dry. Fuel should be changed regularly if you don’t go through a tank very frequently, and the fuel should also be drained from the engine entirely on a regular basis to ensure that no buildup occurs inside the engine, which could be damaging to the internal works of the engine. Pay close attention to your motor emissions; dark, opaque smoke, thick white smoke, and an oily spread over the water can all be indicative of problems that, if not addressed, can spell disaster down the line for your engine.

Aside from the monumentally important boat hull and engine, there are more boat parts that need to be regularly maintained. Many marine electronics are touted as water- and weather-proof, but they are still subject to rust and problems that can corrupt their water resistance. These items should be kept out of direct ocean spray or water immersion, and after use they should be wiped clean and kept out of exposure. Because of the corrosive nature of salt, nearly everything that is in contact with direct ocean water needs to be wiped off. Any cushions or boat fabrics should be regularly washed and thoroughly dried before being stowed for the winter season.

A final problem that can plague almost any of your boat parts is mold. Despite the high salt content, any amount of trapped water (especially when your boat is hauled out for the winter season) can become a breeding ground for dangerous bacteria. All of these may seem like small things, but they are essential to properly caring for your boat whether it is in the water or in winter storage. Failing to attend to these issues properly can represent an expensive repair for your boat or a total devaluing of your asset when you go to sell it.

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