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The Essential Boat Maintenance Checklist for New Owners

Do you complete a boat maintenance checklist on a routine basis? Did you know that lack of care causes about eight percent of boating accidents? This also accounts for four percent of boating death.

If you just bought your first boat, make sure you study up on boat maintenance for new owners. Conducting routine checks and cleaning keeps your boat looking good and working safely. Keep reading to learn about key boat maintenance tips.

Pre-Launch Boat Maintenance Checklist

Regular boat maintenance makes the process quicker with fewer problems. Complete this checklist before departing.

Propeller Check

Make sure the propeller nut is tight. Look for damage since even small dents can increase your fuel use.

Bilge Pump Inspection

Remove the bilge pump hoses and check for any debris that could create a clog. A malfunction could cause your boat to fill with water and sink.

Fuel Level and Filter Checks

Make sure you have enough fuel for your trip. It’s best to use ethanol-free gasoline in your boat. If you must use an ethanol blend, only choose fuels containing up to 10 percent ethanol (E10).

Add a fuel stabilizer if you don’t use all the fuel in two weeks. Gasoline oxidizes and forms deposits inside the fuel system. If your boat doesn’t have a 10-micron filter, it’s good to install one.

Battery Check

Only use a marine battery in your boat. It’s more robust with thicker plates to resist damage from pounding and vibration. Ensure that it’s in a battery tray that’s bolted to the boat.

It should also have a locking strap or rigid bracket to prevent movement in rough water. Check battery terminal connections for corrosion and snugness. Test the battery’s ability to hold its charge.

Post Outing Maintenance

Wipe down the seats to remove dirt and saltwater that causes mildew and mold. Apply a product that blocks UV to reduce cracking and shading.

Empty and scrub storage compartments. Vacuum the flooring including underneath snap-on carpets.

Scrub every surface including the decks, console, and exterior sides. A medium bristle deck brush has soft bristles that get into small spaces. Yet it’s stiff enough to scrub off build-up.

These brushes are safe for use on glass, fiberglass, metal, tile, wood, and more. They’ll also float if they go overboard. Click here to discover more on deck scrubbers.

Routine cleaning protects the boat from damage. Did you know that barnacle growth on boats increases their weight and drag? The U.S. Navy estimates this can increase your fuel use by up to 40 percent.

Annual Boat Maintenance

Make a list of yearly boat tasks. This will ensure that you perform all important maintenance.

Propeller Maintenance

Several times each year, remove the propeller. Check for debris or damage and grease the shaft.

Engine Maintenance

Follow your engine’s owner’s manual service guide. Basic service usually includes:

  • Oil and filter change
  • Gearcase lubricant change
  • Fuel filter element change
  • Spark plugs replacement
  • Accessory belt, cable, and hose checks for damage
  • Fluid level checks
  • Electrical connection checks
  • Changing the water pump impeller as recommended

Inspect life jackets and safety gear. Make sure it’s undamaged and you have enough items.

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