The Top 5 Boat Care Tasks You Have Been Putting Off

August 6th, 2020 by team

by B.J. Porter (Contributing Editor) 

Midway through the summer…the “Spring Commissioning” work list is a distant memory, and we’re still denying that “Fall decommissioning” will ever happen. But it’s been a few…er…weeks or months since we’ve done all those spring prep items and we’re well into the season and using the boat.Midway through the summer…the “Spring Commissioning” work list is a distant memory, and we’re still denying that “Fall decommissioning” will ever happen. But it’s been a few…er…weeks or months since we’ve done all those spring prep items and we’re well into the season and using the boat.

What have we forgotten about? Is there something we should have been watching or doing that we’re not? We’ve got a bunch of things we’re supposed to check every time we go out, like the engine oil and the bilge, but is there a creeping problem we’ve not been checking on?

Check Those Zincs

Fresh zincs in the spring are routine, but what about checking on them through the summer? They’re easy to see before launching, but out of sight, out of mind. Unless you dive on your boat to clean the bottom for racing, odds are you haven’t given them much of a thought since you launched.

If something changes in your marina and you don’t know it, stray current can induce corrosion and can eat your zincs up quicker than usual. The next time you’re swimming off the back of the boat, grab a mask and snorkel and do a quick check of the zincs. Just to be sure.

Exercise Some Thru-hulls

Thru-hull fittings, especially bronze ones, love to be used. We tend not to use all of them as often as we should. I think I have 22 on my boat. Moving all of them regularly is a chore since I have to empty a few places (like under the galley sink) or disrupt things (like rip up our bed). Most through hulls are now maintenance free and can’t be lubricated, but they need to move regularly.

So spend a little time and move every through hull a couple of times a season. Because the only thing worse than a critical through hull that won’t open for you is one that won’t close if you split a hose and start taking on water.

Look Under That Engine

We look AT the engine all the time when we check the oil. But looking under the inboard engine on many boats isn’t something we think to do. It involves crouching on our hands and knees with a flashlight. If we’re lucky.

You’re checking for two things – oil and water. Either is a hint that not all is well and you will need to do some more checking. Seawater may be something as simple as a loose hose clamp, or more complicated like a blown seal on the raw water pump. And oil is the same; maybe you’re a clutz like me when you pour or you never get the oil filter on tight enough. But if it’s more, you want to catch it early.

Clean, Condition, and Protect the Isinglass

Dirty isinglass is a nuisance, but if you let it go, you’ll regret it. While the dirt and clouding are annoying, particles on the surface can get ground in and cloud your vision with scratching. Of course you should rinse and clean the windows in your canvas with fresh water and mild boat soap and dry them with a cloth.

But from time to time you should clean them and apply a UV and scratch resistant protective coating. Your local chandlery should have a couple of options for clear vinyl specific cleaning and care products. Avoid household cleaners or products with wax in them.

How’s the Spring Waxing Holding Up?

She looked stunning with that fresh wax job on her in the spring. But how’s she looking in July? Pay attention with your regular washing to how well the water is still beading and running off. It may be time to freshen up the protective coating for the rest of the season.

The earlier you launch and the more you sail, the more likely you are to need a freshening up of your boat’s first layer of defense. If she needs it, block out the time for a good wash. Even a simple one-step polish and wax is better than letting her stay exposed to the salt and sun.

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