During cold weather like we’ave had recently, we tend to forget about our boats. They’re safely tucked away in storage, or may be just sitting, alone and abandoned, not to be attended to until spring.
These last weeks of winter are in fact the best time to take care of some important tasks to ensure that you have a pleasant, trouble-free experience when it’s finally time to take the boat out.
Every boat owner should consider giving their boat some tender loving care right now, with these recommended projects.
- Inspect your hoses. Hoses and clamps are often overlooked and underappreciated until they fail. Even the best quality hoses eventually deteriorate and wear out from exposure to fuel, coolant, heat and weather. A broken or leaking hose can create a serious fire hazard or stop your motor cold, neither of which is a pleasant experience.
Inspect all the hoses and clamps on your boat for cracks, wear and rust. Replace any hose that shows signs of cracking, kinking or abrasion. Replace any clamp that has rust. Even stainless steel will corrode in the challenging environment of salt water. If the hose connects to a through-the-hull fitting, put double clamps on both ends. That’s the best insurance that a loose clamp won’t let seawater in! It’s always best to find the boat floating when you get back to it come springtime. If hose maintenance and replacement are beyond your skill level, the professionals at MarineMax are ready to help.
- Fix, Polish or Wax. Winter is a good time to fix all the nicks, scratches, dings and dents that you didn’t have time to tend to last summer while you were busy with recreation. Fiberglass repair kits, polishes and wax can be found at most boating accessory and parts stores, including MarineMax at Wrightsville Beach. If the work needed goes beyond waxing or polishing, it may be time to take advantage of a hull makeover. Our fiberglass repair professionals can make your boat look like new.
It’s worth remembering, by the way, that you can get professional service much more quickly this time of year, when our mechanics and hull specialists aren’t as busy as they’ll be once warm weather arrives.
- Make over Your Boat’s Bottom. This is more than just a cosmetic thing. Cleaning off the debris, growth and contaminants from your boat’s bottom will reduce drag, and that will improve performance and fuel economy. If you keep the boat in salt water, winter is an excellent time to give it a coat of anti-fouling paint. Be sure you know what kind of anti-fouling surface you have, because paints vary by type and the amount of copper and other anti-fouling chemicals they contain.
A hard-coat bottom paint must be removed before a new coat is applied. The other major type, ablative coatings, can usually be applied over the previous coat after a thorough cleaning. Either way, two coats are a minimum. For advice about what type works best for your boat, consult the experts at the MarineMax maintenance department.
- Buy Some New Toys for Your Boat. If you have been thinking about upgrading your boat’s electronics, audio system or satellite TV system, winter is the best time to get it done, whether you do it yourself or hire a professional. We offer great deals on these systems and can provide installation, too.
While you’re thinking about the electronics, you may also want to upgrade your shade. Winter is the perfect time to install new sunshade systems, T-tops and other forms of protection from the elements.
- Spruce Up Your Boat’s Ride. If you trailer your boat, now is the time to be sure the trailer is in optimal condition. A wintertime inspection will ensure that you can reliably get the boat in the water and back home again. Repeatedly moving the trailer in and out of salt water exposes metal and electrical parts to a highly corrosive environment, which eventually will take its toll.
Be sure all the wiring is intact and that all lights work correctly, including side lights. Check the brakes on larger trailers, and be sure the suspension is in good shape. Test winches and replace ropes, cables and tie-down straps that show signs of wear or decay. Leaf springs and wheel bearings are among the more vulnerable parts, and if they fail they can disable the trailer.
Widespread rust may be a sign that the trailer has come to the end of its lifespan and it’s time to replace it. MarineMax can supply replacement parts and repairs for trailers, as well as new trailers. Don’t take your boat’s ride for granted!
Some time devoted to these important tasks this winter means you’ll be all set for boating season, which will be here before you know it.
Thom Cross is the general manager of MarineMaxWrightsville Beach. Headquartered in Clearwater, Florida, MarineMax is the nation’s largest recreational boat and yacht retailer. Focused on premium brands, MarineMax sells new and used recreational boats and related marine products and services as well as provides yacht brokerage and charter services. For more information, visit www.marinemax.com, find us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/MarineMaxWrightsvilleBeach or call (910) 256-8100.