Top 5 Tips for Fall Boat Maintenance

What you do (or don’t do) in the fall can have a huge impact on your boating experience in the spring. Every year we have boating clients that call us with spring problems that could have been prevented for less cost with some fall maintenance. From failed batteries to cracked engine blocks there are number of “spring problems” that frustrate boaters and take a long time to repair during the busy boat repair season of February to May. Here’s a few recommendations to protect your boat this fall and get yourself ready to spring into boating season next year (yes, it’s a pun, but like all good boaters we can’t help ourselves. Sea Below ­čÖé

1. Do an Engine Service
Fall is the ideal time to have the manufacturer’s engine service completed by a certified marine mechanic. Residual acids and moisture can collect in the engine oil during summer use and damage your engine over the winter. Most manufacturers recommend an engine service the sooner of 100 hours or once a year generally including oil change, oil filter change, onboard fuel filter change, fuel water separator service, engine anodes replacement, water pump service, and multiple inspection items.

2. Test and Inspect Batteries and Charging Performance
Boaters often discover their boat won’t start in the spring due to failed batteries or poor charging that could have been detected in the fall. Early detection minimizes damage and expense.

3. Test Bilge Pumps and Identify Sinking Risks
Rain storms on the BC Coast are often blamed for sunken client boats we lift out of the water from Fall to Spring. However, the real culprit is often a failed bilge pump and/or a fault in the canvas or other leak into the bilge. Have your bilge pump electrical system tested every fall, repair any leaks you might have noticed during summer showers, and be sure someone visits your boat once or twice a month to catch any problems before it’s too late.

4. Winterize
Every year boaters that don’t winterize roll the dice with catastrophic damage to any part of their boat that contains freshwater that can freeze, expand, and crack expensive marine systems. Engines, generators, freshwater systems, and water makers should all be winterized by a professional service company or skilled individual.

5. Change Sterndrive / Outboard Gear Oil
Don’t let your sterndrive or outboard lower unit sit through the winter with dirty, contaminated or watery gear oil. Have the gear oil drained, inspected, and replaced in the fall. Ask your service provider if they recommend sending the gear oil to the lab to identify any leaks, metal shavings or other emerging problems so they don’t manifest when you want to be out enjoying the boat next year.

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