Maintenance is a serious business. There are 4 basic engine systems that, if left unattended, can lead to untimely failure. We call them the FIBB 4.
This is something that many people forget about or don’t know about. You never think about it in your car because you use so much fuel, your fuel is always clean. Ethanol, which is mandated in today's fuel actually attracts water. Since a boat is a surrounded by water, it's key to keep your water separating fuel filter clean. It is a must to change it every season.
Why do people start their engines and lean over the back of the boat? They are checking to make sure water is coming out of the exhaust. If your impeller is bad, there will be little or no water coming out (this is true on outboards also). No water means no cooling and that leads to overheating. Overheating, in the least, could lead to engine damage and at the worst, could shut down your engine. Approaching the harbor on a rough day would be a bad time to lose power!
This is an easy one in the sense that anyone can figure out the age of their batteries. Most marine batteries last 3–5 years and there is a sticker that tells the month and the year of the battery’s manufacture. When we install new batteries, we record the date of installation and leave it on top of the battery where it is easily observable. Many of today’s high performance gasoline engines, and even some of the newer diesels, need a full 12 volts to run. If your batteries are old and can no longer take or hold a charge, or you have issues with your charging system, let us know and we will get you all powered up!
Belts are often neglected, but all your critical systems need a belt to run - cooling for the impeller, charging for the battery and fuel for the fuel pump. Some belts are adjustable and some must be replaced, but belts are inexpensive and most engines only have one or two.
Your cabin is the main reason you have a boat—it is your living space. You want it to be less like your cellar and more like your family room. To do that means you have to spend a minimum amount of energy to keep it fresh. Clean your bilge at least once during the summer. Even if it is spotless, grab some orange-based bilge cleaner (for freshness as well as grease cutting) and wipe it down. Use a lot of water to rinse it. This will be a good time to observe your bilge pump. Is it working at capacity? How are the hoses? How are the clamps? The auto switch?
Keep at least one 8 ounce jar of Kanberra gel open all summer and if it starts to disappear, replace it. You should go through 2 for the season. Keep the damp rid bags hanging. You should need a couple 3 packs for the summer. Mold likes it dark and dank so, if possible, leave the bilge open and the cushions turned up so air can circulate while you are away from the boat. Just a couple minutes of effort before you leave the boat can make a big difference for your return.
One last thing about your cabin—not only is it not your cellar, it is not your garage. Don’t store your junk there! The less clutter you have, the easier it will be to keep it clean and the easier it will be to access all the sensitive systems on your boat.
Hull and Deck
Everybody likes a shiny boat, but that takes a lot of effort. With all the dirt in the air around town, you are going to end up with junk on your deck. At least twice a month, it is a good idea to spend some time cleaning your deck with a scrub brush and boat soap. You should also buff and wax your boat every year and wax the glossy areas on deck once during the summer.
Get the spider webs and spider waste off. These things are cumulative and exponential in the ugliness they bring. If you are a sailor, open up that main and wipe inside the folds to get those spiders out. If you are a power boater, open your canvas zippers and remove the spiders from there. The waste sits in those enclosed areas and when you open up, not only do the spiders come out like ninjas on a rope, the fabric smells.