It isn’t every day that you get up to buy a boat, but once you have one, then it is important that you take good care of it to ensure it’s running efficiently. Just like cars, our boats need regular maintenance to run smoothly and safely. With proper care and upkeep, your boat will last a long time and provide many memories, whether you go boating on lakes, rivers, or even on seas. Boat maintenance goes beyond a mere inspection of your boat every time you need to use it. Taking good care of your boat after every outing, as well as having a regular maintenance schedule with an expert is important if you want to enjoy your boat.
Why boat maintenance is important
Maintenance errors that can be avoided account for 8% of boating accidents and 4% of boat-related deaths. Why place yourself at extra risk, when you can ensure your boat is water-ready by adhering to a strict maintenance schedule?
Boat Maintenance The Right Way
Now that we established why this is important, let’s take a look at some key parts of your boat you need to maintain to keep it in the best shape.
Fiberglass and gel coat maintenance
Protection and proper care of its Gelcoat is one of the important aspects of boat maintenance. Think of the gelcoat as the clear coat of your car paint. In addition to giving the boat a shiny luster, it also acts as a protective barrier between your boat’s hull and external forces such as water, sunlight, wind, dirt, etc. The boat Gelcoat can become weakened, dull, and oxidized over time, ruining the boat’s appearance and exposing the hull to all kinds of damage. Proper boat Gelcoat maintenance measures will increase the durability of all-important layers of your boat, which can help last up to two decades! Boat Gelcoat is a polyester resin that protects the fiberglass hull. If the fiberglass hull is not well protected with Gelcoat, it tends to weaken due to constant water intrusion. Gelcoats are also designed to be UV-resistant because it is this layer that keeps off all the threats to your boat’s paint and hull.
Ways to Protect Your Boat Gelcoat
Properly cover the boat or keep it in a boathouse
When it is not in use, it is best to cover the boat or keep it in the boathouse, this will help maintain the beautiful, shiny appearance of your boat for a longer period of time because taking these steps protect it from UV rays and other external elements.
Apply a good boat Gelcoat wax or polymer sealant
Choosing a wax or a sealant that is specifically made for boat gelcoats is extremely important.
You can either select a natural carnauba wax or a polymer sealant made from synthetic substances. Carnauba wax will give your boat a better shine, but a polymer sealant will last longer. Use a restorer formulation if your boat Gelcoat is heavily oxidized.
Constantly Polish the Gelcoat
Polishing before waxing the boat Gelcoat is important because it prepares the surface for waxing. Polishing helps smoothen the surface by removing the dust, dirt, scratches, and other imperfections that most Gelcoat cleaners won’t take care of. It is this smooth and glossy surface that needs to be protected by a layer of wax or sealant so that it reflects UV rays away from the boat resulting in less boat damage.
Make sure the hull is fully clean before applying any waxes or sealants
Contaminants such as dust, dirt, grime, oil, salt, etc fill boat Gelcoat because of its very porous nature. Applying a layer of wax to a boat hull that is not properly cleaned results in the trapping of the said contaminants, accelerating the process of boat gelcoat oxidation. If Gelcoat is not protected with a proper Wax, it is recommended to Wax at minimum every 3-4 months with wax or sealants, else it will break down from oxidation and the sun.
Marine canvas and Isinglass or Strataglass
Your car’s windshield is a perfect replica of your boats’ isinglass. If you don’t see through your isinglass, then you’re going to hit something! If you want to be able to see through your boat’s Isinglass, the most important thing is maintaining it properly. One way to maintain your isinglass is to always roll it from the bottom, up to the top, rather than fold it. Regular cleaning of your isinglass is also very critical, but never use an ammonia-based cleaning material on your isinglass, as it causes the ii to become singles yellow and brittle. Use a plastic cleaner instead of an ammonia-based cleaner. On the other hand, the marine canvas is a cover fabric that provides boat protection from external elements. The most common and prominent use of boat/marine canvas is for boat tops, often called Bimini tops and boat awnings found on many houseboats. The best way to maintain marine canvas is to treat the canvass with a sealant, so it doesn’t leak.
Upholstery and Vinyls Cleaning
Marine upholstery represents comfort, aesthetic appeal, and value. Quality vinyl upholstery comes with some in-built resistance to water and stains, so it isn’t necessary to spend a lot of time cleaning after every use, but it is essential to clean any major spills or marks as soon as possible to avoid permanent stains. “It’s generally best to avoid brushes, though brushes with very soft bristles may be used for cleaning mold and mildew, For spills, stick with a dry, non-abrasive towel, soft cloth, or napkin. Art gum erasers, sponges, and pads can also be used effectively against some types of stains. If it is possible, keep the vinyl seats covered or stored away between outings.
Brightwork and ‘Varnishing’ are often used interchangeably – but this means any wood on a boat, covered with an opaque finish. How do you want your brightwork to look? Some prefer their wood to look natural and oiled, while others prefer a high-gloss varnish with a bright, shiny look. Whichever look you prefer, it is important to maintain your brightwork to maintain the Keeping varnished areas covered and frequent rinsing with freshwater will mean less repair. Regularly maintaining the coat before the coating begins to fail will extend the life of the finish. Re-apply a teak oil or stain every three months or so; usually, this just entails cleaning and re-coating the wood, although light sanding may be needed to increase the life span of your brightwork.
Polishes and Protectants
Knowing the difference in many available types of boat polish is important as they have different properties. Most boat polishes are made from synthetic products, so you need to know which is suitable for your boat. Some are made from polymers, synthetic waxes, UV inhibitors, antioxidants, and other ingredients. The advantage of using this type of polish is that they are easy to apply and self-polishing (wipe on – wipe off haze) and do not require buffing to get a brilliant shine. They are not heat-sensitive, so they don’t become greasy and will not yellow and stain. They have good resistance to UV and oxidation. These polishes are mostly recommended for protecting new boats and boats that have a reasonably good substrate. Acrylic polishes are recommended for older boats where the substrate has deteriorated to the point where it needs re-finishing. These clear coat products can add several years to the boat before refinishing. They work best on dark colors.
It is important to consult an expert and follow instructions, failure to follow instructions can result in streaking, yellowing, cracking, and pealing. Re-application is required annually. They are usually applied by brush or applicator, just like paint. Some polishes, and even some waxes, contain Silicones or Teflon. It is advised to avoid products containing these items even though, they are easy to apply and give an instant shine, the disadvantage is that they can cause irreparable damage to your boat.
How often you service your boat is totally dependent on how often you take your boat out. However, a great rule of thumb to keep in mind and stick to is to service your boat after every 100-hour interval. In conclusion, regular routine maintenance of your boat will prolong its lifespan.