Essential Maintenance Tips for Long-lasting Boats

Essential Maintenance Tips for Long-lasting Boats

At Great Lake Yachts, we know that regular upkeep is crucial for keeping your boat in tip-top shape. As a full-service marina located in the heart of Kenosha, we provide comprehensive maintenance services so you can enjoy smooth sailing for years to come. Whether you're new to boating or an experienced captain, read on for our top maintenance tips to protect your prized vessel.

Schedule Regular Engine Flushes

Flushing the engine with freshwater washes away salt, sand and other debris that can damage internal components if left to sit. Make it a habit to flush thoroughly after each trip before storing your boat. This prevents corrosion and wear over time. Be sure to use a high-pressure water source and appropriate flushing attachment to thoroughly clean out all internal water channels. Run the engine during flushing to circulate the fresh water through. Flush until the water running out of the engine is clear of debris. Pay special attention to flushing if you primarily boat in saltwater, as salt crystals can quickly cause corrosion buildup inside the engine if not properly removed.

Change Fluids and Filters Frequently

Like your car, your boat needs oil and filter changes at regular intervals. Check your owner's manual and stick to the recommended schedule. This reduces friction, removes buildup, and protects the inner workings of the engine. Use oil specifically formulated for marine engines, which is designed to withstand the demands of high RPMs and saltwater environments. When changing the oil, replace the filter at the same time per manufacturer recommendations. Improper oil or delayed filter changes can lead to reduced engine performance, corrosion issues, and sludge buildup over time. Sticking to the maintenance schedule for oil and filter changes will extend engine life and prevent costly repairs down the road.

Inspect and Lubricate the Propeller Shaft 

The propeller shaft allows power from the transmission to turn the prop. Inspect it for excess play and lubricate the seals and bearings routinely to ensure smooth operation. Catching problems early prevents more extensive repairs. Check for any drips or leakage around the shaft, which can indicate worn seals. Give special attention to the cut less bearing, which supports and aligns the shaft - signs of wear here can lead to vibration or damage if not addressed. Use marine-grade grease on bearings and seals per manufacturer specifications. Replace any severely corroded or damaged components. Having a professional assess the shaft once a year can identify issues early while they are still minor. Performing routine propeller shaft maintenance will provide smooth and efficient power transfer for years.

Look for Loose Parts and Fittings

The vibration of the engine and motion of water gradually loosen nuts, bolts, clamps and more. Conduct thorough inspections and make replacements to avoid issues like leaks or broken brackets down the road. Pay close attention to parts near the engine itself as these tend to shake loose most frequently. Check hose clamps, fittings, mounts, and other connections for any sign of leakage or movement. Tighten any loose fasteners and replace stripped or corroded nuts and bolts. Use locking washers or thread locker for a more secure hold. Look for cracking around screw holes or other signs of stress. Make notes of any areas needing monitoring. Having a routine checklist will help ensure you inspect every component.

Promptly Fix Any Hull or Deck Damage

Cracks, gouges, fraying or other flaws in the fiberglass hull and deck will only worsen over time. Address issues immediately to keep your boat sound. Our technicians can make professional repairs quickly. Even small cracks or chips in the gelcoat can allow water intrusion, leading to delamination or rot if ignored. Inspect closely for any bubbles, soft spots, or cracks, especially around hardware, railings, and high stress areas. Promptly sand and seal any chipped areas. For more significant damage, our technicians use fiberglass cloth and resin to rebuild compromised areas and match the existing finish. We can match factory colors on visible repairs.

Keep Batteries Fully Charged

Drained batteries fail more quickly. Use a trickle charger when your boat is idle for long periods. Check water levels and terminals frequently. Catching minor corrosion early on extends battery life. Consider using maintenance-free sealed batteries which don't require watering. When cleaning corroded terminals, disconnect the battery first and use a wire brush to remove buildup; apply a corrosion-preventing sealant when done.

Use Protective Coverings and Storage 

Invest in custom-fit canvas covers, waterproof hatches and proper onshore storage facilities. Protecting upholstery, electronics and other components from elements will save you money. Look for breathable, water-resistant materials to prevent mildew growth when covers are on. When storing on land, keep the boat well-supported and shielded from sun exposure and falling debris that could cause damage.

Practice Good Marine Cleaning 

Rinse away salt, bird droppings, mold, and other grime after each trip before it can eat into surfaces. Pay attention to the undersides and small spaces that can be missed. Use a pole attachment to reach way under the lip of the deck and clean. For hard water stains, a buffing compound followed by waxing can restore the shine to fiberglass surfaces.

Schedule Professional Services

Our technicians can spot small issues during routine maintenance that you may overlook on your own. Take advantage of our full menu of services so we can keep your boat sailing smoothly all season long. In addition to maintenance, we also offer winterization services to protect your boat during the off-season. Stop by our shop to learn about our specialty detailing services to keep your boat looking its best inside and out.

Investing a little time and care into your boat with these tips will keep it in ship-shape condition for years of enjoyment on the water. Contact Great Lake Yachts today to learn more about our offerings.

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