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.
Things to check every time you head out
Checking over everything in the image below is a good habit to get into, especially if the boat has been laid up over winter.
Top 10 maintenance tips to continue boating safely
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.
Don’t wait until everybody wants to get their boats serviced before summer to book yours in! Spark plugs should be changed with your engine service, and you should carry a spare set including a sparkplug spanner on your boat. Keep an ear out for new or different noises or vibrations, they can be the first sign that something isn’t quite right.
Every time 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.
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.
Make sure that there are no cracks in your fuel line and that any connections are not corroded.
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. If it turns milky or magically starts appearing, i.e. the level is moving up the dipstick, you may have a serious issue and need to consult an expert before it lets you down or serious damage occurs.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Boatie's Best Mate.
Get a Coastguard membership today for peace of mind when you’re out boating.