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A Guide to Maintaining Your Boat

Jun 7, 2021 | Insights

If you’re wondering how to maintain a boat, our guide fills you in on what you need to know to keep your boat in tiptop shape from bow to stern.


If you’re a proud boat owner, you’ll know how important boat maintenance is to get the most out of it while extending its life. We’ve got some tips that will keep your vessel in perfect working order while looking like a million bucks at the same time.

Maintaining the Outside of a Boat

It doesn’t matter whether you’re adventuring in freshwater or saltwater, keeping the outside of your boat clean and maintained can be essential for its functionality, and it can even increase fuel efficiency!

Boat Hull Maintenance
Boat hull maintenance should be kept on top of to avoid having to make costly repairs. After using your boat, make sure you always clean the hull to prevent any corrosion and contamination of waterways. Aquatic invasive species are very harmful to waterways that they don’t belong in. It’s vitally important that you appropriately dispose of any plant life or mud that you find attached to your boat to ensure no harmful organisms are spread in other waterways. Once you’ve removed any visible debris, give the boat a good clean with a cleaning agent (preferably biodegradable) to remove organisms and salt.

While your boat needs to be cleaned after a day out in freshwater, pay special attention when cleaning it after being in saltwater. Saltwater is notorious for corroding metal elements of vessels as well as damaging the hull. While hulls and machinery can be replaced, prevention is always better than having to find a cure.

While it may not be hard to find someone to perform a fibreglass boat repair, it can be a costly exercise, one that is best avoided. If your boat’s hull is fibreglass, it’s a good idea to apply wax to protect its coating from the elements. This is best done twice a year — before your boating season and at the end of the season before you store the boat.

Canvas Maintenance
To get the best life out of your boat cover, especially those with upholstery and canvas components, wipe them over with soap and water. If there is grit or dirt ingrained in the canvas, use a soft brush to lightly scrub it out. Taking care of your canvas can prevent mould and will help to keep it looking and feeling fresh.

Sail Maintenance
If you have a sailboat, you’ll need to look after the sails. Rinse the sails with fresh water after use to remove any salt or debris that could damage the material. Before storing them, they must be completely dry. Storing sails with any sign of moisture can cause mildew and mould, which is difficult to get rid of and can destroy the fabric. When folding your sails, try not to fold along the same line as previous folds, as this will eventually leave a crease.

Inspect the sales often for any signs of tearing or holes. Finding a hole early on allows you to fix it before it becomes a large tear that could be costly to repair or replace. If you need to patch any minor tears, be sure to use a pressure-sensitive adhesive (PSA) tape and steer clear of duct tape.

Maintaining the inside of a Boat

Keeping on top of your boat’s interior means you will help it to  remain clean, safe and comfortable for many years to come.

Cleaning Boat Flooring
How you clean the floor depends on what type of boat you have — obviously, you wouldn’t clean the floor of a houseboat with a hose — so use your discretion when deciding which method might work for your boat.

Spraying the floor of your boat clean is generally all that’s needed for a tinny or vinyl covering. If it’s particularly dirty, you could use a mild detergent and a soft-bristled brush. If your flooring is carpet, you might like to vacuum it first to remove any loose dirt before spraying it down with a hose. If you need to use a scrubbing brush and detergent, you may need to choose a hard bristle brush.

Surfaces and Fittings
For plastic, rubber, metal or vinyl pieces inside the boat, get yourself a good quality oil spray. You can use the spray to wipe down surfaces and fittings to clean them, and it can also offer a level of protection from wear and tear.

Wipe over the seats with a sponge or soft brush using a mild detergent or a fabric cleaner. Keeping the fabric clean and dry will prevent mould, mildew and decay from setting in.

Maintaining Boat Engine

Flush the Engine
After each use, it’s a good idea to flush out the motor. Saltwater can become especially corrosive if left inside the engine, but freshwater poses issues too if the engine gets dirt or any other nasty surprises in it. When flushing out the engine, pay attention to the temperature of the water coming out. If it’s feeling particularly warm, it could be a sign that your water pump needs some attention.

Protect Your Fuel System
If you are using fuel that contains more than 10 per cent ethanol, your engine could be in trouble. If too much water enters the fuel system, the ethanol can mix with the water and form a non-combustible sludge on the bottom of your tank. This can be very costly to fix. Consider using a fuel stabiliser that mixes with the fuel to stop this separation process from occurring.

Look After the Cowl
If you’re thinking about the resale value of your boat, an easy way to boost that value is to keep the cowl looking good. Any damage to the cowl may be perceived as an indication that the engine has also been damaged. So be sure to keep it clean, waxed and covered when not in use.

After each use, remove the engine cowling and inspect for any water or fuel leaks. If you find any leaks, you’ll probably need to consult a boat mechanic. Wipe down all the parts and use an anti-corrosive spray or lubricant on all the moving parts to keep them in good repair. 

Maintaining your boat might seem like a chore at times, but plenty of TLC can see the life of your boat extended by years, so you get to enjoy more sunny days out on the water, knowing your boat is clean, safe, and running at its best.

Finance One is a non-bank lender that provides opportunities for everyday Australians to rebuild their credit rating and improve their lifestyle.

If you’re having trouble getting a loan through a bank or larger lender, get in touch with Finance One to find out how we may be able to help.

Disclaimer: The information above is of a general nature only and does not consider your personal objectives, financial situation or particular needs. You should consider seeking independent legal, financial, taxation or other advice to check how the information relates to your particular circumstances.  We do not accept responsibility for any loss arising from the use of, or reliance on, the information.

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Makala Elliott

Makala is the Marketing Manager at Finance One. She has worked in the Finance and Lending industry for over 10 years, gathering a wealth of experience. She is passionate about helping Australians get back on track with their finances by passing on her knowledge.

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