Storing your boat uncovered is one of the biggest causes of deterioration. UV rays attack paintwork, gelcoat, upholstery, cables and just about anything else that it is exposed too. Taking the time to cover your boat after each use with a boat cover or tarp will go a long way to keeping it looking its best.
Make sure none of the cover straps are in contact with the ground. Ants and other pests will use this as a means of accessing a stored boat.
Wheels & Tyres
The most forgotten aspects of boating, the tyres and wheels need to be regularly inspected to detect early signs of failure. This includes checking tyre pressure every couple of trips, inspecting tread and getting the bearings serviced at least once a year. During heavy use, bearings should be maintained even more frequently.
Whilst traveling, each fuel stop, perform a quick visual inspection of the wheels. Also touch each bearing cover to detect heat. If hot to touch the bearing isn’t functioning properly and will require attention in the very near future.
Trailers and saltwater unfortunately don’t see eye to eye. Every 2 -3 trips take a can of lanolin or inox and give all the bolts, joins and roller posts a quick spray. This will help to reduce corrosion and gives you the opportunity to inspect your trailer for any signs of damage. Be sure to examine the inside of the wheels and springs as well.
Flushing your motor is nothing new to the boat cleaning process, but, if you’re not planning on taking the boat out again for some time, ensure you make use of some salt dissipating products. Give the motor a generous flush with the solution as per the instructions and use any remaining to spray down the trailer.
Every few trips take the cowling off to inspect. In the instance of any salt build up, some warm water and a spray bottle should remove it.
On the Water
- Take a rubbish bucket. Having a designated rubbish bucket will save you pulling bits of fishing line and food wrappers out of every nook and cranny once you return home. It’s also worth taking a tackle bucket for gear that’s been in the water and requires a wash. Rusting hooks and swivels left lying around will leave a nasty stain on any exposed gelcoat or upholstery. Wayward sinkers can actually corrode through an aluminium boat, so it’s best they get stored correctly and are not left to roll around.
- Take a cutting board, this will protect the top of your icebox and also contain mess to one area.
- Have a bailing bucket or deck hose ready at all times. Fishing is a messy pastime, but the clean-up effort can be massively reduced by washing as you go. Thoroughly rinse any blood or slime from the decks, gunnels and sides as soon as possible to prevent staining and dried grime.
- Have a sponge or designated wet rag on hand to wipe down any of the more stubborn messes.
- Bleed fish over the side of the boat, in the livewell or in a bleeding bucket. This will help keep your icebox as clean as possible.
Fast-food or food court food trays make excellent cutting boards. The raised edges prevent anything rolling off or bait juice and blood spreading around the boat. These are fairly easy to purchase online.
Off the Water
- Give the boat a thorough sponge wash with a boat-wash solution. This removes the salt and also any leftover organic matter. Remaining fish/bait scraps can attract ants, mice and rats who love to nest in boats!
- Use a light mist to clean sounders and GPS units. Avoid directly spraying them with any force.
- Flush bilge pump with fresh water. This can be done by putting the bungs in and filling the hull with enough water to cover the suction point.
- Use a fish bin cleaner or disinfectant to clean any kill bins or iceboxes used. This prevents growing bacteria and smelling while the boat is being stored.
Stained gelcoat? A quick scrub with a light bleach solution as per the instructions on the bottle will generally remove it.
- Leave all hatches open to help them dry and to prevent mould growing.
- Isolate batteries. Either flick isolation switches or disconnect the terminals.
- Keep batteries on a float charge to prevent battery damage over long dormant periods.