a person doing maintenance on a boat

What is a boat maintenance schedule?

Adventure 2 min read

Assuming your boat sits in the water year-round, there will always be plenty of boat maintenance chores, tasks, and tune-ups to keep you busy onboard. But how often should you change the oil or repaint the hull? These will vary from boat to boat (especially if you have a wood deck to maintain).

How to follow a boat maintenance schedule

A boat maintenance schedule can be broken down by monthly and annual boat maintenance. Follow these boat maintenance tips for what you should do monthly, annually, and beyond to keep your boat in tip-top shape.

Monthly boat maintenance checklist

  1. Wash the exterior: Scrubbing your boat will keep salt and dirt at bay and extend your gel coat.
  2. Clean the interior: Clean your boat’s interior by wiping down surfaces and scrubbing the head.
  3. Check the bilges: Give bilges regularly ensure they’re nice and dry.
  4. Run the engines: If you haven’t ran your boat in a month, let the engines run for 30 minutes.
  5. Check the fluid: Check your engine oil, transmission oil, and coolant levels.
  6. Pump out your waste tank: Schedule a pump-out service or do it yourself at least once a month.
  7. Check your boat’s hull: To keep your boat’s hull clean, hire a diver to scrub your hull every quarter.

Annual boat maintenance checklist

  1. Wax the gelcoat: Giving your boat a thorough wax once a year will help maintain its shiny exterior and protects it from the sunshine and salt.
  2. Wash and waterproof canvas: Give your Biminis and covers a good washdown and reapply any waterproofing solutions or sprays once a year.
  3. Change the fluids: Change the engine oils, engine oil filters, and fuel filters once a year or every 100 hours of engine runtime.
  4. Clean out water tanks: To keep your potable water storage nice and fresh, plan on cleaning the tank to kill off any mold or mildew that may have built up over the last year.
  5. Service waste treatment systems: Whether you use storage tanks or an onboard sanitation system, it’s wise to have these systems looked at annually.
  6. Request a vessel safety check: The U.S. Coast Guard offers free vessel safety checks for all boat owners. Schedule an in-person inspection or follow the online guide to doing it yourself.

Other boat maintenance tips

It’s also a good idea to perform a yearly top-to-bottom boat inspection. An annual inspection is good to do as part of winterizing your boat each year. Hire a mechanic (or do it yourself if you’re knowledgeable) to inspect your entire boat thoroughly. Depending on the water conditions in your harbor, you’ll probably want to haul your boat out every two or three years to repaint the bottom.

Regular boat maintenance is a lot of work, but for boat owners, it’s a labor of love with an occasional curse here and there. Learn more about buying a boat , common boat types and the difference between an aluminum vs. fiberglass boat.

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