Growing up, my best friend’s dad was a boat owner. Some of my fondest memories are going out to the lake and fishing or having boat parties. I wasn’t a cool kid growing up, so these were never cool parties, but they remain some of my best memories from childhood. One thing that stuck with me, because it struck me as an obvious thing to say, was when my buddy’s dad said, “boats are not cars.” Obvious thing to say right? But when it comes to care and routine maintenance its spot-on. This, of course, begs the question, what even is boat maintenance?
SWITCHING OUT SACRIFICIAL ANODES
This is at the top of the list because it is something that is often forgotten or not well understood. Boats are made from metal, that shouldn’t come as a surprise. Metals oxidize, rust, when exposed to or left in water for extended periods of time. This process is largely due to some basic chemistry – the atoms that make up water want the electrons the metal has. To keep the water from eating your boat’s electrons, you should have sacrificial anodes which more readily offer their electrons to the water. The long and the short of it, you need to switch out the anodes about twice per boating season in warmer climates and once per year in cold climates.
DON’T LEAVE YOUR BOAT IN THE WATER
This goes along with the sacrificial anodes, but you shouldn’t be leaving your boat in the water. The reason for this is that continuous exposure to water is very bad for boats. I know that one comes a shock, but it’s true. When you aren’t using the boat – this means both off-season and when simply not in use – it should be stored some place. For this I would recommend getting some storage from a facility near you. It is the safest solution, and there are plenty of facilities near you that offer boat storage, so check them out.
SWAB THE DECK
I have honestly always wanted to say that, it strikes me as a phrase that can only be said in a pirate phrase. That and walk the plank. Anyway, odds are your deck is made from wood, and likely teak. Teak is probably the most common deck material, and that stuff holds up well against the elements, but it still needs a wash. I would recommend using a mild to gentle cleaner to keep the wood in its best condition. Also, be sure to scrub against the grain, scrubbing with the grain will make the wood get gritty and no one wants that. While many boat shops sell a two-part cleaner, that stuff is highly corrosive. I would not recommend that for wood, truth is that I wouldn’t recommend that for anything. While it will remove any stain you put it on, it will also remove any paint, wax, or protective coating you have.
CAREEN THE BOAT
Don’t know if anyone but me knows that while, yes, careen does mean to move swiftly at uncontrollable speeds, it also means to turn the boat on its side to clean the underside. If you want to keep your boat looking good, you’ll need to clean the underside too. Think of it like treating an illness, you can either treat the symptoms and still be sick or get your hands dirty and go for the source. Depending on climate, you might have barnacles to contend with and they will eventually eat through the hull, and that’s a far costlier repair than just scraping them off every couple of weeks after being in the water.
WASH YOUR CANVAS
Included with your regular run of the mill canvas are the see-through PVC windows on canvas sheets. Tempting though it might be to use Windex or a similar product on these “windows,” you don’t want to do that. Those cleaners were designed for glass and will eventually brown the PVC. After that, they’ll become brittle and start to crack and now you need a whole new window. Instead get a mild soap, and scrub. There is a lot of scrubbing involved in boat ownership. That’s like half of the thing.
That’s pretty much all the boat maintenance tips that I have. Do you know something that I missed? Leave a comment below and share your knowledge, life is one great learning experience after another, so help each other out!