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Sailboat Maintenance 101

Sailboat Maintenance 101

Boats require a substantial amount of upkeep and maintenance, and new or used sailboats have many components to look after. Regular, minimal expenses and maintenance towards your sailboat will maximize its efficiency and prolong your boat’s life. To help you keep up with your boat care, Boatline is sharing the basics with sailboat maintenance 101.

Sails and Rigging Maintenance

As the main components to sailboats, sails and rigging should be checked at least once a month. Look for potential chafing where headsail sheets attach to the clew, the traveler, and boom vang. Do a thorough inspection for wear and tear on the mainsail. Then, check the cotter pins, shroud, pelican hooks, and turnbuckles to make sure they are secure and in working condition while following tips for maintaining your sails.

Sailboat Engine Maintenance

This surprises some folks who have never sailed before, but yes, sailboats do have engines! And, as a primary part, boat engine maintenance requires the most work and attention on this list. It’s important to inspect your engine regularly. There are maintenance tasks for your sailboat’s engine that you should perform on a daily, monthly, or annual basis.

  • Daily tasks
    • Check the oil level, belt tension, and transmission fluid level
    • Inspect pulleys and alignment
    • Tighten alternator and water pump belts
  • Monthly Tasks
    • Change oil and filter
    • Clean thru-hull and siphon break
    • Fill up coolant
    • Check pump, impeller, and raw water strainer
  • Annual Tasks
    • Test batteries
    • Examine tank for damages
    • Inspect the shaft and propeller
    • Replace primary and secondary fuel filters
    • Bleed the fuel system

Sailboat Oil and Filter Maintenance

To change the oil, allow the engine to run for 6 to 8 minutes and then turn it off. Place a container under the drain plug and allow the oil to drain for about 30 minutes. Once the oil has fully drained, replace the drain plug and fill the engine with oil.

Sailboat Battery Maintenance

The battery is considered the heart of the sailboat and, if it breaks, the engine won’t start and the electrical components won’t work. On a regular basis, check the battery charge with a digital multimeter and the connections for corrosion. Additionally, check your battery charge levels every day. Some boats are equipped with solar or wind power to help retain a full battery. However, if you have a generator running periodically, be sure to know when the charge level gets too low.

Survey the Sailboat Bilge and Bilge Pump

The bilge sits on the bottom part of the sailboat to collect excess water. The pump is the component that removes water from the bilge. If the pump is damaged, your sailboat could sink! It is important to check the bilge for water, oil, or fuel leaks every few days as leaks can occur anywhere along the deck. Holes, loose hatch seals, or improperly sealed windows are common problems that can lead to these leaks.

Sailboat Hull Maintenance

Inspect the sailboat’s hull, keel, and rudder for damages, cracks, or blisters. Make sure to apply a gel coat restorer to scratches or rust inhibitor to remove corrosion from these components. As a precaution, remove your sailboat from the water once a year. This will make it easier to inspect the hull’s condition and take preventative measures to restore your boat.

More Important Sailboat Maintenance Tasks

Replace Sailboat Temperature Gauge

Refrigeration and freezer systems can often be affected by the external water temperatures around the boat. Over time as these systems get recharged, their effectiveness decreases. This can lower the temperature gauge, so it is important to change your temperature gauge weekly.

Check Sailboat Raw Water Sea Strainers

If you are running anything requiring a raw or saltwater cooling system, be sure to check your generator, air conditioning/heat, and refrigeration systems. Ensure the water outflow on any raw water-cooling system is correct. To keep your water maker in top condition, you should run it at least every seven to 12 days.

Do a Sailboat Anchor Dive

If you are in clear waters and can drop anchor, take a dive to make sure your anchor is correctly situated on the seafloor. While you’re at it, examine the chain for wear and damage, and make a replacement if necessary.

There are a number of maintenance tasks that help keep your boat in pristine shape. Stay on top of these tasks to ensure your sailboat’s best performance and to help keep your boat going for the long run. If you’re looking for new and used boats for sale, be sure to see all the listings online at


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Alex Hoyes
Alex Hoyes

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