Boat Maintenance Guide: Ensuring Your Boat Stays In Top Condition

Boat maintenance is an important part of owning and operating your boat. The boat sitting at the dock or at the marina that you love so dearly is likely a significant investment of money, and just like any other asset in your life, it needs to be cared for and properly maintained. Doing so will ensure reliable operation during use (and limit those times when you’re set to enjoy a great day on the water only to have problems prevent you from doing so!) and also help preserve the boat’s value leading to higher resale when the time comes.

Proper boat maintenance will provide peace of mind for the owner and help ensure safety for those aboard the vessel during operation. As expected, the larger the boat and the more complicated the systems aboard, boat maintenance costs can typically increase. Moreover, the age of the boat indeed has an impact on boat maintenance and repair costs incurred during ownership.

If you’re purchasing your boat through a dealer, be sure to ask thorough questions of your sales representative about the recommended maintenance and service plans. For new boaters, this can be a great starting point. If you’re purchasing a used boat, you can receive guidance from your yacht broker.

Note: This is another reason why purchasing a new boat can be the better option for new boaters; typically a new boat will come with a clear maintenance and servicing schedule provided by the manufacturer as well as appropriate warranties to reduce risk during your first few years of ownership and operation. Moreover, your local dealer from whom you purchased the boat can often handle servicing for you and be a great partner with respect to this area of ownership.

Recommended Regular Care As Part of Your Boat Maintenance Plan

The regular care of your boat can go a long way towards maintaining it and keeping it running well. Here are some basic tips that we always recommend to boat owners.

Flush the engines – If you’re operating in salt water, whether your boat is brand new or 20 years old, we always recommend flushing the engines after every use. For most boats, especially the newer ones, flushing the engines to remove the salt water is quite easy and takes just a few minutes. This basic step is crucial for caring for your boat.

Washing and spraying down your boat – Again, getting the salt water out of every part of the boat is crucial. While spraying down the boat is impactful, it isn’t always completely sufficient. Getting out the soap and brush can ensure you get all the salt off the boat. Don’t ignore the small areas like screw heads and areas prone to less attention such as the underside of the hard top. Don’t be afraid to clean the boat. Remember, it’s waterproof!

Get your boat detailed on a regular basis – If you’re using the boat regularly, we recommend having someone detail your boat on a regular basis. While it certainly costs money, it’s often negligible compared to the overall investment in the boat itself. Having the boat detailed every couple months during regular use is a way to give the boat better care and attention above and beyond the normal washing you might do after a day on the water.

Buff and wax the hull at least once a year – While the gel coat on today’s boats holds up extremely well, buffing and waxing the hull will keep it shining and looking new. If you have a darker hull color, you’ll want to consider this more frequently such as twice per year. At a minimum, when you have the boat hauled out for its annual service, get the boat detailed and have the hull buffed and waxed.

Typical Boat Maintenance & Service Schedule

In addition to the regular care for your boat, you’ll want to stay on top of scheduling service for your boat. Boat owners will typically get their boat serviced every 100 hours of use or once a year.  Here are common service elements performed at various points in the lifespan of the boat (note that things may differ depending on the specifics of your boat):

100 Hour Service – The 100 hour service typically involves an oil change and an inspection of the spark plugs and engine.

300 Hour Service – In addition to the regular 100 hour service items, the 300 hour service often includes examining and/or replacing items such as fuel pumps, thermostats, water pumps, filters and impellers.

500 Hour Service – While also including the standard service items, the 500 hour service often involves a number of items specific to your engine. This can include replacing specific parts around the engine as advised by the manufacturer.

Navigating the Repairs Process

If you own and use a boat long enough, you’ll likely encounter something breaking or going wrong. Whether it is something simple such a slight tear in the vinyl or something that prevents the operation of the boat such as engine malfunction, the process can be frustrating for owners. However, by keeping a few key things in mind, owners can navigate the repairs process in a smooth manner. Here are a few tips to keep in mind to help minimize frustration and get you back out on the water in your boat quickly:

  1. When something goes wrong, get your phone out and take a picture or video of the issue regardless of what the problem is. If it’s an engine code, a rip in the vinyl or a weird noise you’re hearing, this documented evidence of the issue is huge in jumpstarting the repairs process. Some issues can be fickle and difficult to replicate when a service person or technician is present examining the boat. The photo or video evidence can speed up the first step of diagnosis and move the process along quicker. It’s not unheard of for technicians to have to spend a lot of time simply attempting to diagnose the problem before even knowing what the solution is. Remember, often times, parts have to be ordered, so getting quickly to the part ordering process can help reduce overall downtime.
  2. Keep in mind that boat servicing is very different from automotive servicing. While automotive shops are built for high volume with a myriad of parts on hand, the marine servicing world operates much differently. While you can show up with your car unannounced at an automotive servicing shop, and in many cases, leave the same day with the repair done, this isn’t how it works in the marine world. Boats have many parts that typically have to be ordered. Setting your expectations appropriately will help eliminate frustration.
  3. While setting your expectations appropriately is key, you can help move along the process by providing the necessary detail in your initial service request. At TGYG, you can click on the Service tab of the website and submit a new service request. The request also lets you include photos and videos. This is the quickest way to get your service request moving forward. After submitting the request, the TGYG service team will provide you with next steps as soon as possible.
  4. Consider combining minor repairs with service appointments. If you’ve operated boats for some time, you know that on occasion there can be minor things not working properly, but not preventing you from using and enjoying the boat. Perhaps a small interior light hasn’t been working. Rather than bringing in the boat for these small items, consider waiting until you bring in the boat for your annual service appointment and have the shop fix these minor items at the same time.

By following these regular boat maintenance and repairs process guidelines, any boat owner can more fully enjoy the ownership and operation of their boat. While you do your best to reduce downtime and keep your boat running well, you’re also maintaining the value of your boat and will be rewarded when you decide its time to sell.

Do you have any questions about boat maintenance or service? Please contact us at any time.