Sailing is a wonderful pastime and can be enjoyed alone in a small one-person craft right up to time on a luxury superyacht. Regardless of the size of your vessel, maintenance and repair are essential to keeping your boat seaworthy. Water (especially seawater) causes corrosion to happen faster than in land-based vehicles, meaning you need to be extra vigilant. Here is everything you need to know about boat maintenance and repair so that you can be sure you have smooth sailing every trip out.
Know The Seasons
One of the most important things to be aware of with boat maintenance is that the boating world is seasonal. In the spring, sailing industry craft people are fully booked and working hard to fulfill orders as boats are prepared for the coming sailing season. Autumn/Winter is the time when any repair works are identified as few people want to sail when it’s freezing. Should you identify any issues, such as a sail requiring repair, book in with a sailmaker now.
Metal Work Repairs
Larger boats often have metal components, such as railings, that can become damaged. As rails are part of a boat’s safety equipment, dealing with such issues promptly is vital to keeping everyone safe. Depending on your skill level with a welder, you may be able to make repairs yourself. The correct stick welding rod will make the job a breeze.
Upholstery And Sails
Fabric and water will always cause problems as it creates the ideal environment for mold and mildew to develop. Be sure to regularly clean any soft furnishing exposed to the elements outside so that mold can’t set in. Keeping any sails clean and properly stored is vital for the same reason, as even synthetic fiber will get moldy. Black mold is detrimental to health, as well as unsightly, which is why avoiding it on your cherished boat is essential.
Even though most modern boats use ropes made of artificial fibers that won’t rot, they’re can still be damaged. As such, always store ropes correctly so that the wear and tear on them are minimized and don’t become tangled. Correct storage of ropes also ensures the safety of those on board as they won’t present a trip hazard. Over time salt from the air and water will weaken the fibers of the ropes, so it’s essential to inspect the ropes regularly and replace any that are fraying.
Without the hull, you have no boat, so occasionally putting your vessel into a dry dock is essential for assessing its condition. Even when it’s in the water, you can run routine maintenance by scraping barnacles off and cleaning the surface of algae. While in dry dock, or for smaller boats that go on a trailer, be sure to show the fiberglass coating some love. Wash and wax the fiberglass coating to keep it in top condition and stop any leaks through minor nicks and scratches – larger cracks will require proper repair.
As with the hull and other component materials, taking care of wooden parts should not be neglected. Rainwater and frost cause damage when it gets to timber parts through failures in coatings such as paint or varnish. Regular checking for damage will let such failings be identified and repaired before water can get in and cause damage. Taking care of how timber surfaces are cleaned will prolong the life of decks and reduce problems occurring.
As with your car, looking after your boat’s engine is vital to keep it running smoothly and reliably. Many of its parts aren’t necessarily easy to access if you break down while out on the water. Have the engine regularly serviced and run routine maintenance after each trip. It’s as simple as flushing the motor to be sure it’s free of sand and debris accumulated while out and then keeping an appropriate cover on until the next trip.
Just as vital as keeping the boat’s structure in excellent condition, so too is ensuring that the onboard safety equipment is looked after. Before and after each trip out on the water, you must check over safety equipment as the consequences of a failure are too high not to. Check life jackets for wear and that fire extinguishers are within date and full.
Being a boat owner is a lot of responsibility, but when you put the time into looking after it, your boat will reward you with so much fun it’s worth the effort.