Boat Maintenance 101: 5 Essentials Steps for Carefree Sailing


Sailing is probably one of the most enjoyable and rewarding ways to travel nowadays, and it’s definitely one of the safest ways to realize your travel plans in style amidst the coronavirus pandemic, as you’re not likely to contract the virus in the middle of the open sea. If you own any type of sailboat, or if you plan on renting one out for the summer season, rest assured that you’re in for an amazing adventure – provided that you prep the right way, of course.

Traversing the seas is not just about enjoying Mimosas on the deck while the yacht gently glides across the sea surface, it’s also about making sure that your boat is in top shape to ensure comfort and safety. That’s why before you sail out, you need to run a thorough checkup of your sailboat and take care of some essential maintenance tasks in order to keep all the passengers safe for the duration of the trip and avoid any nasty surprises. Here’s your checklist.

Start with thorough interior and exterior cleaning

First things first, it all starts with a thorough cleaning session, which is something you can do all on your own without even taking the boat out of storage. It’s important to clean the exterior and interior of your sailboat thoroughly before setting sail, especially if the thing has been sitting in storage throughout the year, because of the accumulated dust and debris. This is particularly important if you keep your boat moored under the open skies for most of the year.

You can start by cleaning the interior of the boat and work your way out. Grab as many garbage bags as you need and start decluttering the interior. Bring the typical cleaning supplies you would use in your home, such as proprietary kitchen, bathroom, and living room cleaners. Next, be sure to swab the deck using a proprietary deck cleaner, a mop, and some soapy water. Lastly, be sure to clean the exterior or the hull, but keep in mind that this is a laborious process that’s best handled by a skilled professional.

Take special care of the engine

Engine care and maintenance are paramount for sailboat safety while you’re out at sea, because the last thing you want is for your boat to stall in the middle of nowhere, or worse, for the engine to catch on fire. The latter is unlikely to happen simply because the modern manufacturer takes all the precautions to minimize risk, but you can never be too careful. If for no other reason, you want to focus on engine maintenance to prolong its lifespan and prevent subpar performance.

Fortunately, engine maintenance is also something you can do by yourself (which doesn’t apply to engine repairs), so start by checking the fuel meter and that the fuel tank vent is open. Remove any debris and build-up from the water intake. Check that the engine mount screw clamps are tight and secure. Lastly, check the propeller and make sure there is no oil build-up.

Get a professional gelcoat refinish

Accidents on the water are not a seldom occurrence, but they can also happen when the ship is docked. If you have scraped or dinged the side of your ship on your last voyage, or if the hull has sustained some damage while moored due to the boat rocking on the waves and leaning against the dock, then you want to have a professional take a closer look and make the necessary repairs.

Be sure to have a professional take care of gelcoat repair and restoration before you depart, because small problems can turn into potential hazards while you’re out at sea, so no reason to risk it. During the process, your boat mechanic can run a thorough check-up to uncover any hidden issues the boat might be have, which can save you plenty of heartache down the road. With your boat back in tip-top shape, you’re almost ready to set sail.

Run a thorough checkup before departure

Before you go, don’t forget to run through your “pre-launch” checklist, as the NASA guys would say. This will ensure that you have everything you need to sail away in style while eliminating the risks. Start by checking the oil – top it off if needed. Check the propeller and the steering movement. Check the bilge pump and battery. Make sure that the electric systems are working, and don’t forget to check the fire extinguishing systems as well.

Don’t neglect proper boat storage

Last but not least, you can’t expect to just hop on your boat and sail away on a moment’s notice if you don’t keep the thing in dry storage. Keeping your boat docked all year round is a great way to attract all kinds of problems, including mold, rust, infestations, and many more. If you want to avoid bigger problems the next time you opt to take a sailing trip, then be sure to put your boat in dry storage to keep it in a safe and controlled environment, at just the right temperature.

Wrapping up

Sailing is a great way to stay safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, and probably the best way to organize an up-scale escapade for you and your loved ones. Before you set sail, though, be sure to take care of these essential maintenance tasks to ensure a safe and carefree voyage.