Check to ensure that battery is clean, properly charged and at the correct fluid levels before each outing.
Inspect your bilge pump to ensure that it is functioning properly before every outing. Check the battery and make sure it has enough juice so, if the unfortunate situation occurs and your boat is trying to sink, the battery will have enough power to run the pump for a prolonged amount of time.
Always cover up your boat after an outing—it will help you in maintaining your boat and keeping it free of spiders, bird droppings, dirt and leaves.
General cleaning and care
Routine washing and waxing of your boat helps protect it from the elements. You can protect seats with a vinyl protectant which will keep them from cracking and fading over time. A boat's hull should be waxed at least once a year. Boats kept in the water for long periods of time will need to have their bottom painted every 2 or 3 years to protect against barnacles and zebra mussels.
Know your boat
Routinely inspect your boat and keep an eye out for anything that looks different or out of place—loose fittings, frayed ropes, etc. Check all electrical systems and components for moisture or corrosion. You can do some preventative maintenance by protecting electrical fittings with a water repellant, non-conductive grease or corrosion inhibitor.
Lower units and drive shafts
Drive shafts are used on inboard applications. The drive shaft is sealed with packing that sometimes wears down and can cause a leak. Stern drives should be removed once every season or two depending on how heavily you use the boat. Once removed, lube the U-joints and change the gear lube in the lower unit. Water pump impeller should also be changed once a year to avoid possibly overheating the engine.
Flush engine after every outing, check oil levels and inspect engine cooling system. Do a general inspection for signs of damage or rust. Like cars, changing your oil and fuel filters regularly can add years to your engine's life.
Be sure to look over your owner's manual for specific guidelines as to your boat's maintenance. There is also plenty of information and instruction online. See our Boating Courses page for more information.
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