Archive for the ‘Boat maintenance’ Category

Tips for Safe Boat Transport

If you’re a boater who lives in an area with major seasonal changes in weather, you have to go through the arduous process of hauling your boat from the water as the cold approaches and placing it in storage. Then when spring rolls around and the weather starts to break, you go through the whole process again in reverse, though returning your boat to the water is usually quite a bit more enjoyable than removing it.

Taking the steps to ensure that your sailboat or power boat has safely made it through boating season and performing necessary maintenance prior to stowing it away for the winter are great ways to extend its life. Properly winterizing your vessel prior to storage is also a great way to ensure that you’ll be able to get back into the water once the weather has broken.

One very important aspect of boat transport that can easily get overlooked though is the condition of your trailer. A thorough inspection of your trailer prior to hauling your boat is essential for your safety, your boats safety and the safety of all those around you.

Things like dry rotted tires, rotted boards and damaged rollers can spell disaster if they happen to get overlooked prior to hitting the road. The trailer isn’t necessarily an overly complex piece of equipment and most repairs can be addressed by boaters who are comfortable working with their hands. You may only use your trailer a few times a year, but it’s an integral piece of equipment if you need to haul your boat.

Don’t Let Mussels Hitch a Ride on Your Boat

When it comes to invasive mussels, authorities in New Mexico are not taking any chances:

The New Mexico Department of Game and Fish will block roads statewide from May through September to search boats for invasive species of mussels, said Ken Cunningham, the department’s aquatic invasive species coordinator. (Don’t be shellfish: Check your boat for mussels)

They will be looking for zebra and quagga mussels and Cunningham told The Daily Times that they will only search boats for a few minutes.

In New Mexico you may face a a fine of $500 if authorities find that you have entered the state with an aquatic invasive species. It is also possible that your boat will be confiscated and put under quarantine until the mussels are gone.

With that in mind, whether you are traveling in New Mexico or waters in some other area, boat owners can prevent fines and confiscation by taking the time to inspect their own boats.. But above not having to be inconvenienced by penalties, taking care of your boat helps keep the bodies of water you travel from being infested with invasive species. When your boat comes out of the water, cleaning your boat and making sure it stays try can make a big difference.


Getting Ready for Spring Sailing

If the winter thaw has not yet begun in your area, then you still may not have even looked at your boat yet, since it is still under cover or stored somewhere for the winter. Continuous cold weather may have kept you from using your boat right away when it got a little warm. This is not a bad thing though, because boat owners who get excited and take their boats out without getting them ready may find they acted too soon.

When you decided it is time to take your boat out, here are some tips to get it ready for spring sailing:

Belts, Cables and Hoses: Your belts, cables and hoses can crack in cold weather, so inspect them carefully. Make sure that the belts are not worn and they are still tightly in place around pulleys.

Electrical System: Examine your electrical connections for corrosion. Clean them with a wire brush after you have first removed the terminals. You can also have a knowledgeable electrician look at your system before you take any trips.

Fluid Levels: In your excitement to take that first boat trip, don’t forget to check all of your fluid levels–coolant, engine oil, power steering and power trim. If you  changed the oil while winterizing, you may not need to change it again.



Maintenance Tips to Help Reduce Your Gas Costs

You know what they say, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” When it comes to high gas prices, there is no “cure” but you can take steps now to make sure that the higher price of gas doesn’t pain you later on when the weather gets warmer.

Trim Tabs-Make sure yours are working as they should. If you boat is no balanced, it will use up additional gas.

Prop-Does your boat have the prop it needs? Check with an expert to be sure. If you have the right kind of prop, get any needed repairs done now so it is good shape for the summer.

Hull Bottom-Taking your boat out with last year’s paint on the bottom of the hull may save money on paint, but it could rack up your gas costs. A new coat of bottom paint will prevent things from growing on the bottom of boats that dock in saltwater. Hauling these growths can use up fuel.

Clean out-You probably have had things stored on your boat during the cold weather. Instead of just heading out when it gets warm, take time to see if you need all that is on your boat. Carrying less will help you use less gas and save money.


Preparing Your Boat for Warmer Weather

You can be ready to take advantage of warm weather if you prepare ahead of time. Whether spring arrives and stays or you just have a few days of warm weather in March or April, you can enjoy your boat if you put in some work beforehand. You don’t want to wish you could use your boat on a sunny day in late winter/early spring; you want to be ready to go.

Ventilating Shrink Wrap- Those of you who have boats that are shrink-wrapped will want to check to make sure that moisture is not causing problems underneath the wrapping. You don’t have to remove the entire wrapping now, but you can cut some holes for ventilation and look to see if there is any danger of fungus.

Maintaining Trailer Tires- You can also some prep work on your trailer tires (if they are not buried in snow) Remove them one at a time and set the trailer on blocks. Then you can rinse any salt of off the tires and spray them with silicone spray. Then you can have them serviced (seals cleaned, stem valves replaces, etc.) at a garage. Trailer tires go through a lot of abuse but you can keep yours longer if you care for them.

Zinc Can Prevent Corrosion

If you are a boat owner, you will find that zincs are vital for boat maintenance.

When two different metals come in touch with each other on a boat there will be some corrosion. Two separate metals come in contact on hull plates, shafts, props and heat exchangers and other areas. It takes a third metal to stop the corrosion and zinc is commonly used for this purpose.

Some people will tell you that you can tie zinc on a cord and hang it over the side of the boat, and you can do this, but this will not be enough to stop corrosion. In order to fulfill its function as a third metal to prevent corrosion, the zinc has to be in direct contact with the other metals.

You will need to have your zincs checked every year; they need to be replaced when there is only half left. You also need to replace the zinc on your boat after you have it taken in for hull maintenance.

If this seems like a huge undertaking, remember that you can get a pencil zinc for less than $5. This cost is minimal when you compare it to what it would cost to replace a part of your boat that has become too corroded to be used any further.

Five Tips for Green Boating

Although you love and appreciate the water we sail on, you need to take action if you want to make sure it is safe and clean for sailing in the future. Good boat maintenance can also be good for the environment. A boat that is well-maintained doesn’t leak harmful substances into the water. Although boats use chemicals and other substances that could possibly harm the environment, you can use them responsibly to keep out waterways safe.

Spill-proof oil changes- When you are transferring oil use an oil change pump and transfer it into a spill-proof container.

Don’t add soap- Using soap to disperse fuel or oil can further the damage made when these substances spill.

Take care when fueling- Take your time while filling fuel tanks to prevent avoid spills. Never try to “top off” your fuel tank. In fact, you should leave the a bit of room in your tank because fuel expands as it gets warmer.

Dispose of waste properly- Keep trash aboard in a container that will not attract insects until you can dispose of it on land. This includes food waste and hazardous materials like batteries and paint.

Decrease toxic discharge- You can clean the hull of your boat with non-abrasive methods to reduce paint discharge.

Boating Basics: What is a gelcoat?

If you have noticed that new boats tend to have a shine to them and thought it was just newness, you should know that this is a gelcoat. A gelcoat is a resin that not only makes a boat glow, it also protects the boat from the elements. This protection is important for the boat’s surface and for the fiberglass at the bottom of a boat.

Sun, wind, water, dirt and debris, as well as knicks and scratches can all damage a boat’s gelcoat. The results go far beyond changing the boat’s appearance; once water gets into a boat’s fiberglass, it can cause damage if the gelcoat is not repaired. Whether you have a new boat or you buy a used boat with a gelcoat that has worn away, you will want to repair the gelcoat to get the most out of your investment.

Before you can work to maintain or repair the gelcoat on your boat, you have to figure out just how much oxidation has occurred because the work you have to do will vary depending on the damage to your boat. If you suspect oxidation has occurred, do not wait until it gets worse; repair the gelcoat as soon as you can.

Tips for Protecting Your Boat’s Motor

Protecting your boat’s motor is a key part of preventive maintenance. Keeping the motor in good working order is a vital part of enjoying the investment you make when you buy a boat.

As you may already know, it is important that you flush out the engine after each outing. This advice applies whether you are out in fresh water or salt water. You shouldn’t just flush the engine sometimes after returning, but each time.

Here are some other motor maintenance tips:

-Using outboard engine covers will keep moisture from causing damage.

-Look at the fuel primer bulb to see that it is intact.

-Make sure to tune your engine after using it for 100 hours. Engine tuning every 100 hours is a minimum; you can tune it more often.

-At 100 hour intervals (or even after 50 hours), use a grease gun on the parts of your boat on the out-drive/shaft that have fittings.

-Check your motor/motors on a regular basis for gas or oil. If you see or smell gas/oil, talk to your mechanic.

-Check the fuel line clamps to for damage.

-Check for water in the fuel.

-Make sure the tank vent is working as it should.

-Inspect your propeller for damage when you dock.

Boat Owners Should Beware of Aquatic Hitchhikers

Biologists are warning boat owners to carefully check the hull of their boat as they prepare it for winter storage. You may have picked up an aquatic hitchhiker. If your hitchhiker remains undiscovered, there’s a good risk you’ll spread potentially hazardous marine life to other bodies of water when boating season begins again in the spring.

Environmentalists attribute the spread of zebra mussels through the Great lakes and into the Mississippi River to boat owners unaware of that they were harboring these noxious stowaways. Biologists say zebra mussels have become such a difficult problem for water and sewer facilities located on America’s largest natural waterways that many facilities have had to duplicate their operating systems, using one while cleaning mussels from the other. Zebra mussels can multiply so quickly in intakes and pipes that systems become completely clogged by the small mollusks.

Boat owners can play a huge role in preventing the spread of harmful marine life by carefully checking their boats for hitchhikers whenever they remove them from the water. Boat owners who have already shrink-wrapped their vessels should make a note to check their hulls in the spring before putting their boats back in the water. To prevent the spread of unwanted marine pests, boats should also be checked whenever they are removed from one body of water and launched into another.