Summer Boating Maintenance Tips to Try This Upcoming Season

Best way to clean a boat for summer

Summer is almost here - and if you own a boat, you know what that means. Maintenance season!

Neglecting your boat's care and upkeep can turn it into a money pit. And, with warm weather right around the corner, there's no better time to tackle those annual tasks. 

But do you have a rock-solid checklist to make sure everything gets taken care of before you hit the water? If not, don't start stressing. We've got you covered!

In this easy to understand guide, we'll walk you through all the essential steps for boating maintenance that you should take now. Keep reading for more information. 

Unpack and Clean

If your boat has been sitting unused all winter long, the first step you'll want to take is removing all of its covers, unpacking anything that was stored inside, and prepping for a thorough scrub-down.

While you're washing, take care to remove all that built-up wintertime grime, using a gentle non-abrasive boat soap and a sponge. Then rinse your boat's surfaces and allow them to air dry. Even if you're short on time, resist the temptation to use power washers and other pressured devices - these can cause damage over time!

Up next, you'll want to apply a coat of polish or boat wax to help protect your finish from the elements. This is also a great time to perform a visual inspection, taking note of any areas that might need extra attention - like repairs or bodywork. 

Essential Boating Maintenance

When it comes to how to prepare your boat for the summer, it's essential to focus on all your vessel's mechanical systems - not just how it looks on the water. 

Does your boat have a freshwater system? If so, now is the time to flush it and remove any antifreeze left behind. 

You'll also want to open and inspect any seacocks that your vessel might have - this can prevent engine damage if you're using an inboard. And ensure that there is cool water flowing through any outboard engines that you might use. Don't forget the dinghy if you have one! 

Next, you'll want to carefully commission your boat's sanitation systems. Don't forget to check your y-valve and seacock connections to their holding tanks. 

Ensure that bilge pumps are working properly by manually filling your bilge with a hose. Then, watch your pump at work - if it quickly and effectively removes the water, you're probably safe to launch. This is also a good time to test your manual bilge pump - an important safety item should your primary pump fail. 

You'll also want to check your boat out below the waterline. This is a great time to apply new antifouling or "bottom" paint, inspect your propeller, check zincs, and look over your boat's hull carefully. The chances are good this area will also need a thorough cleaning - specifically if it's been sitting in water over the winter months.

Have a look over your electrical systems, and pay careful attention to replaceable parts that may have worn out in storage. You'll also want to check for dry rot and corrosion.

Lastly, double-check your emergency equipment and first-aid kit. Be sure that you are 100% prepared in case of a crisis at sea! And, if your boat has one, be sure to put in the drain plug before you hit the water.

Engine Inspection

You don't have to be a professional mechanic or a boating pro to ensure that your engine is in good working order at the start of the season. Follow these steps to perform your own thorough inspection and routine maintenance:

  1. Change your oil and filter using safe disposal methods
  2. Change your fuel filter and perform a visual inspection for sediment
  3. Inspect and service your water pump if needed 
  4. Change your transmission oil, again disposing of waste properly
  5. Inspect your drive belt, replacing it if visible wear is found 
  6. Flush and replace your engine coolant 
  7. Clean or replace your boat air filters depending on their condition
  8. Apply grease to your steering cable
  9. Inspect your battery and charge if needed
  10. Inspect your propeller for proper movement

You should also take a look at your entire fuel system, inspecting it for leaks and ensuring proper connection points. This is also an opportunity to verify proper ventilation is being used in fuel-rich environments.

Check all your cables and belts for signs of fraying, rot, or corrosion. Make sure nothing has become brittle while sitting in storage and that no heavy residue is found around belts and pulleys - this can indicate serious wear.

Before starting your engine up, take one last look at all your fluid levels. Running the motor with any of these left dry can cause serious damage. 

Ongoing Care

Sadly, performing seasonal boat maintenance isn't enough to keep your vessel looking and running like a perfect ten all year long. You'll also need to perform some regular upkeep.

Wash your boat down with fresh water from the hose after every use. This will help your brightwork, gel coat and paint finish last longer. Rinsing is especially essential if you're boating in saltwater environments!

You should also rinse and flush your sanitation system with clean water from the dock a few times per season. This will help prevent odors from building up.

Don't forget to scrub your bilges every so often. Keeping this step in the routine will help save time when it comes to winterizing and storage and ensures that your boat is performing as well as possible each time you hit the water. 

Summer Fun

Now that you know a bit more about essential summertime boating maintenance, you're ready to get started on the list. And, not a moment too soon! With summer weather right around the corner, you'll be craving a day on the water before you know it.

But, you shouldn't trust your boat's care to just anyone. Check out our selection of better boat products for high-quality and affordable boat maintenance supplies that you can trust! We also offer free shipping on orders over $20 and a 30-day money-back guarantee on every sale.