Fishing from your own boat is far different from fishing from land or on a charter. You can go where you want, schedule your trips at will, and take whoever and whatever you want with you. If you’ve recently purchased your first boat, learning how to take good care of it is key for preserving its value, aesthetics, and functionality. Fortunately, the boat maintenance tips that follow are perfect for every beginner fisherman.
1. Always Keep a Watchful Eye on Your Boat’s Engine
Engine problems are common among new boaters who aren’t quite sure about how to take care of this important component. Rather than running the risk of needing a tow back to the marina, be sure to perform a basic inspection of your inboard, outboard, or stern-drive engine on a regular basis. This includes checking oil levels and performing top-ups as needed. Refer to your owner’s manual to determine the ideal schedule for oil changes. More often than not, boat engines will need to have complete oil changes performed at least once every 50 to 100 running hours. Boat engine inspections and routine maintenance should include examination of all hoses and lines for evidence of excess wear, and lubrication of all moving components with a high-quality, anti-corrosive lubricant.
2. Finish Every Outing With an Engine Flush
Your boat engine should be flushed after each and every outing. This is especially important to do when traveling in saltwater. Flushes keep salt crystals and other deposits from building up in engines and harming their internal components. Most modern outboard engines have freshwater flushing systems already built in. If there isn’t an existing flushing system, invest in a separate motor flusher that’s compatible with your boat’s engine. Before performing this maintenance for the very first time, always consult with your manual to learn the correct procedure.
3. Invest in a Quality Wash-Down Pump
All boats that are used for fishing should have quality wash-down pumps on board. This is an essential piece of equipment for keeping your boat clean with minimal effort. Options that have multiple pressure settings will allow you to treat more surfaces and areas, and without risking any pressure-related damages. Lower pressure settings are best used on hatches and windows so that there’s no risk of flooding the engine compartment. You should use your wash-down pump for an immediate clean-up if you’ve just bled out a recent catch, or to quickly clear off your bait table. Taking care of messes like these right away will keep you from having to vigorously scrub surfaces that have dried scales, blood, and other fishes pieces stuck in place.
4. Regularly Wash the Boat Exterior
Owning a boat is incredibly convenient when it comes to planning and structuring your own fishing trips. What you’ll soon discover, however, is that it also entails a tremendous amount of work. Once you’ve returned to land and taken everything out of your boat, give the entire vessel a thorough wash using a mild cleansing agent. The best boat cleaning products often come bundled together in comprehensive boat owner’s cleaning kits. At the minimum, you’ll need a good sponge and bucket, a detailing towel, boat soap, boat wax, and a good deck brush. Washing your boat, drying it, and waxing it is all essential for keeping problems with corrosion at bay.
5. Clean Out All Storage Areas
Overlooking storage areas can leave you with a vessel that attracts far more flies than it does fish. Always make sure that all live wells and fish coolers are cleaned and disinfected before putting your boat away. These should be scoured with a sturdy scrub brush, and treated with deodorizing products like baking soda or odor-neutralizing tablets. Once they’ve been disinfected and deodorized, live wells and coolers should be thoroughly dried. Leaving even small amounts of moisture in these areas can make them veritable breeding grounds for mildew, mold, and other harmful organisms.
Diligent maintenance will extend the lifespan of your boat, and help you get more value and enjoyment from your purchase overall. The more basic boat maintenance that you learn to handle on your own; the less work that you’ll have to outsource. With the proper tools and a solid maintenance checklist, you can keep problems with pervasive odors, rust, engine failure, and more at bay.
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