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Tips For Post-Ride Boat Maintenance

Tips For Post-Ride Boat Maintenance

Boaters are some of the most inviting and cordial people in the world. Part of the reason why might be because boaters are in a special group all to themselves. It’s very much the same way motorcycle enthusiasts and RVers enjoy hanging out with like-minded individuals, but the difference is that those vehicles are all land-based. Boaters, on the other hand, have the water all to themselves.

With that in mind, you’ll want to do everything you can to keep your sailboat or other boat in tip-top shape to continue enjoying the privilege of breaking away from dry land and spending quality time out on the water. Here’s a list of things that will help ensure that.

Clean your boat after salt water rides.

The easiest and most basic thing you can do to maintain your boat is to regularly clean it, especially after spending time out on the water. If you’ve been boating on salt water, a post-ride rinse will help remove any salt that came in contact with the hull, the interior of the boat, the cooling system, and the propeller(s). Salt can be very corrosive, especially on the metal elements of your boat, which can lead to costly repairs or replacement sooner than you might expect. Even if you’re on a river that flows into an ocean or bay, the water can still have various degrees of salinity.

Clean your boat after fresh water rides, too.

Don’t let fresh water boating fool you. If your excursions are done exclusively on fresh water, a good post-ride rinse is still highly recommended. Fresh water isn’t always all that fresh, and you may have a mixture of mud, oil, fuel, and other contaminants on the hull and motor. Don’t forget to wash down the upholstery, too. Dirt that sits on fabric can attract mold and mildew.

Soap down the hull.

Regardless of the kind of water you wandered through, a quick soap down of the hull before you rinse it off can be very beneficial. If oil was floating on the surface of the water you went through, it can attach itself to the fiberglass hull of your boat and eventually damage the gel coat and fiberglass. A pure water rinse alone isn’t going to get your boat as clean as you might want it.

Don’t forget to flush the motor.

Algae, dirt, debris, and sand can all get into your engine’s cooling system, whether you run on inboard or outboard motors. A fresh-water flush after your excursion will help eject all of that gunk out of the cooling lines, helping your motor to run efficiently the next time you go out. There are even some additives you can include in the flush process to help clean the system out and apply a protective coating to the internal body of your motor between uses.

Use earmuffs.

Most newer motors have a flush port where you can connect a garden hose directly to the motor’s cooling system. For those that don’t, you’ll need a connector called earmuffs to attach to the intake port. When using a direct connection, it’s not required to run the motor. However, keep in mind that if you can’t connect a hose while the engine is still warm, internal thermostats may close certain lines during the process and you won’t get a complete flush. Even if you have a direct-connect option, if your engine has cooled, you may still want to use the earmuffs and run the engine until it returns to its normal operating temperature.

Don’t leave the motor unattended.

You might think it’s okay to take care of other cleaning chores while you’re flushing the motor. If you’re using earmuffs, we recommend standing by and keeping an eye on the connection. The vibration from running the motor can cause them to shift. If that happens while you’re running the motor and the engine isn’t getting water to the cooling system, it could damage it.

Follow directions.

Always follow the flushing procedure recommended by the motor’s manufacturer. Some recommend flushing for five minutes. Others say to go to ten. Longer is generally better. Also, if you’re using a flush additive, make sure the product meets the manufacturer’s specifications. If you have doubts, ask your dealer.

Finish off with wax. 

While it’s not required after every use, a good coat of wax periodically will help protect your boat’s hull and keep it sleek in the water. 

Don’t forget routine maintenance when it comes to checking and changing fluids. If you’re not comfortable performing maintenance procedures on your powerboat or other boat, your dealership will be more than happy to guide you or lend a hand. If you’re ready to jump into spring with a new boat, search our nationwide marketplace at

By Barrett Baker


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