Boat Care 101 | Shelter Insurance®

Boat Care 101


Owning a boat for the first time can be exciting, but you may not have realized what goes into boat ownership. Think back to when you bought your first car. You probably didn't drive it off the lot and think you were done. You knew regular maintenance would be required to keep the engine and tires running smoothly, and you needed to wash it regularly to protect the paint. Owning a boat is similar.

Change the Oil
Just like your car, your boat needs to have the oil changed on a regular basis. A boat's oil should be changed at least once a year or after every 100 hours of use. You should also check the oil each time you take your boat out to see if the oil is dirty and make sure the oil level is correct.

Keep Things Pumpin'
Your boat's bilge pump helps get rid of water that collects inside the boat and helps prevent water from getting in the oil tank. In extreme cases, if the bilge pump isn't functioning correctly, your boat could sink. Make sure the bilge and the bilge pump are cleaned out regularly to keep your boat afloat.

Keep it Charged…
Your boat's battery, that is! To make sure your boat's battery is ready to go, use a voltmeter to check the charge. In addition, check the battery terminals to be sure they are clean. If they are corroded, brush on a paste of baking soda and water to take care of it. Marine batteries on average cost a little more than car batteries, so you should try to take good care of yours. For instance, when you store your boat for the winter, it's better to disconnect the battery and take it home until next year. While it's at home, it should be hooked up to a trickle charger.

It may go without saying, but you should also check the condition of belts and hoses, as well as rusting after every outing and make the necessary replacements.

Keep it Clean
Washing your boat regularly and taking it out of the water every few days will help prevent algae, barnacles and other similar marine life from planting itself all over the outside of your boat. If you take your boat out in saltwater, washing it after every use is imperative.

You'll also want to check the hull from time to time to make sure there are no cracks or any other damage. If you find damage, try to get it repaired as soon as possible.

Prop it Up
Periodically, check the propeller to make sure there are no knicks and there's no fishing line wrapped around it. According to, even the smallest dent in a propeller can cause your boat to lose performance and burn excessive fuel. It can also vibrate, putting too much stress on bearings and seals, causing additional damage. In addition, fishing line wrapped around the propeller can cause gear case leaks.

This all sounds like a lot, but investing a little bit of time to check these things before each outing might save you a bigger time investment later. You'd rather be out enjoying your boat than getting it fixed, right? More importantly, proper maintenance can keep your boat running longer and keep you from being stranded in the water.