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A Beginner’s Guide to Boat Maintenance

boat maintenance

So you’ve recently purchased a boat, but it’s not quite time to raise the anchor and set sail yet. More and more people are getting out on the water as retail sales of power boats jumped 12% in 2020. But new owners commonly overlook the most important part of keeping their boat running; boat maintenance.

Although it might seem daunting, these maintenance tips will help you understand how to take care of your boat, and your wallet will thank you.

There are a few main aspects to taking care of your boat. These include cleaning, checking the engine, maintaining the electrical system, using proper safety gear, and storage.


It may seem like a chore, but boat cleaning is a big part of taking care of your property. If you don’t, you’ll have problems with mold and mildew, dirt, and foul odors. These can become severe enough to cause damage to yourself and passengers as well as the boat itself.

Cleaning the Interior

The types of cleaning you’ll be doing depends on the type and size of the boat. If it’s a small skiff or dinghy, it may be as simple as wiping down the inside with a cleaner. But for larger boats with more seating or rooms, you should know how to clean the carpets, cushions, and other surfaces.

For most stains and messes, a marine-grade multi-purpose cleaner will do the job. You should also vacuum carpets and scrub them to get rid of dirt and moisture.

Although not part of the seating area, cleaning the bilge on the inside of the boat is necessary. Leaving water in the bilge for too long may cause mold and mildew problems or worse, cause your boat to sink if too much water is taken on. Check the bilge pump for clogs and other issues regularly to avoid a sudden emergency scenario.

Cleaning the Exterior

You may not know it, but cleaning your hull can save your boat from fouling and issues relating to it. Fouling is the term used to describe the growth of marine life on a boat, and it can affect the fuel efficiency and speed of the vessel.

It’s easy to keep on top of maintenance for your hull, using a long brush you can scrub daily or weekly for fouling and other dirt, and every so often you’ll want to take it out of the water for a thorough clean.

Your vessel cleaning routine should also include checking the propeller for debris. Make sure there are no foreign objects lodged in it. Along with this, you should be removing it a few times a month to look for cracks, dents, and other damages.

Engine Care

Just like a car, checking your engine when necessary is a major part of boat care.

Coolant in a boat is what absorbs heat and helps prevent corrosion in the engine. It naturally deteriorates and loses effectiveness as it’s used, so it’s important to check every so often to make sure you’re getting the most out of it. Check your owner’s manual and any manufacturer’s recommendations on when your coolant should be changed, along with the coolant filter.

A good rule of thumb is to change the oil in your boat every 50 to 100 hours of operation, but this can depend on a variety of factors. When in doubt, change the oil more often than you think you need, and consult your owner’s manual. You should also check your other fluids such as power steering and lubricant.

One of the major things to check for when looking at the engine is water. Any leak in a boat can lead to disaster, but water in the engine is especially dangerous.

Fuel lines should be checked regularly to look for leaks or corrosion. The fuel you use should be ethanol-free, but if necessary you may use E10. You’ll also want to use a fuel stabilizer to prevent phase separation and oxidation.

Maintaining the Electrical System

Your boat’s electrical systems are incredibly important to maintain, even more so if you sail in salt water. Keeping your battery and cable jackets in pristine condition will make sure that you’ll have the power you need on your boat.

The number one thing to prevent is corrosion. Saltwater and sea air can severely damage electric components, and if left unchecked they can cause system failures or fires.


The battery, just like one in a car, is the power behind your boat. But they come with a few differences in terms of maintenance. Before going on a boat trip, you should check that the cables are tight, and if you don’t plan on using your boat for a week or more, turn the batteries off so they won’t drain while not in use.

Cable Jackets

These may seem simple, but they protect the electric components of the boat. If these become damaged and you notice swelling or a crack or tear, they must be replaced, otherwise, you may lose control of the boat if they fail.

Safety Gear

You should make sure to have all of the legally mandated safety gear and know how to use them should the situation arise. Inspect your safety equipment for wear and tear or other damage that might cause them to malfunction every time you take your boat out.

Having faulty fire extinguishers, first aid kits, or life jackets, or worse, none at all, is a hazard to your health and the health of any passengers.


Knowing where and how to store your boat will keep it safe over the off-season and make it easier for you to bring it out for the next. There are a few different options including in-water, home storage, and using a dedicated facility.

In-Water Storage

As a general rule, boats shouldn’t be stored in the water for more than 30 days straight. Your boat is exposed to the weather, and if there are leaks they may seep into the water and contaminate it.

Home Storage

Storing your boat outside your home or in the garage might seem like a good option as well. But depending on the size of the boat, it can take up quite a large amount of space.

For renters or those living in a neighborhood with a homeowners association, you may not be allowed to store it at home at all. You’ll also be the only line of defense against pests and thieves, and just like in water storage, your boat will be exposed to the elements.

Dedicated Storage Facility

If you’re looking for a secure, cost-effective, and hassle-free boat storage option, a dedicated storage facility may be the answer. They combine the advantages of both in-water and home storage with none of the downsides.

Your boat will be protected from thieves and vandals as well as Mother Nature herself without taking up valuable space on your property.

Protect Your Boat With Proper Boat Maintenance

Knowing how to take care of your boat will keep it working for years on end. Follow your owner’s manual and the best practices for boat maintenance and you’ll be able to protect your boat from damage.

When the season’s over and you’re ready to store your boat for the winter, rent a storage lot from Kingston Ideal Storage. Their state-of-the-art facilities are the best option to keep your boat safe and sound.