A poorly maintained automobile can eventually land its owner stranded on the side of the road. A poorly maintained boat could prove far more disastrous, stranding its owner at sea.
Boating enthusiasts recognize the role routine maintenance plays in keeping a boat afloat. Such maintenance might sound like a major commitment, but maintenance is actually simple and does not require boat owners to spend as much time working on their boat as they do enjoying it.
Before taking a boat out on the water, it's best for boat owners to perform the following maintenance and checkup to ensure their Saturday at sea doesn't turn into a nightmare stranded in the middle of nowhere.
Hoses, Fittings, Tanks
Inspect the hoses, fittings and tanks before heading out to sea. This won't take long but will be advantageous. Leaky hoses, fittings and tanks could cause the boat to end up stranded or even damage the motor. In addition, an oil or fuel leak could create a fire hazard or increase risk of explosion. Checking the hoses, fittings and tanks for leaks takes just a few minutes and greatly reduces risk of being stranded or worse.
Top off the fuel tank whenever heading out on the water. Even if the trip is supposed to be just a quick jaunt, it's still important to top off the fuel tank. Doing so and then checking fuel levels upon return can also help boat owners determine if there are any fuel consumption issues, which are often indicative of an engine that's not performing at its peak.
The battery connections should always be tight and clean before heading out on the water. A loose or dirty connection will make it difficult for the battery to charge, which can leave boaters stranded at sea. If the engine is operated at high speeds for a long period of time, check the electrolyte levels for any signs of an overcharged battery.
Boat maintenance is an important but not necessarily difficult part of boat ownership. Boat owners who ensure their boats are properly maintained can greatly reduce their risk of being stranded at sea while increasing their chances of having a great time out on the water.
The propeller should show no signs of damage. A damaged propeller can cause a host of problems, including stranding boaters on the water. Even if a damaged propeller doesn't strand a boat in the middle of the sea, it will likely tax the engine, which will decrease fuel efficiency.
It's also good to top off oil before heading out on the water and then checking oil levels upon one's return. Boats with 4-stroke motors consume very small amounts of oil, so if such boats are consuming large amounts of oil during each trip there's likely something wrong with the engine. A boat with a 2-stroke motor should maintain the same proportion between fuel and oil consumption. If the proportion starts changing dramatically, that's problematic.
Hull, Engine Cases
The boat hull and engine cases should be inspected for damage or signs of corrosion before heading out on the water. It's also a good idea to inspect the hull and engine when returning to the dock. This will save boaters the trouble of discovering problems on the next trip, which may put that trip in jeopardy.