It's always a good idea to check your boat throughout the year to make sure she stays in top running condition. Here are some tips to make sure everything is looking ship-shape between spring and winter.
1. Quick Scans
Regularly check the roof for cracks and around the windows for leaks. Move through the crawlspace looking for any loose wiring, plumbing or other water leaks or other issues. Move to the engine compartment to check the hoses, boots and seals. Review the hour meters to see if a mid-season oil change is needed. Usually this chore is completed spring and fall, but may be needed if the boat has been well-used during the year. Don’t forget the generator and remember, oil is the life blood of the engine. Lastly, check out dock lines for wear or chafing.
2. Don’t Wait For Water
Water intrusion issues, either by rain or other sources, will be much worse if you let them slide until winterization rolls around. This to me seems to be one of the biggest overlooked problems I have seen. We have replaced entire side walls and sections of roof because of this. If the problem had been caught earlier in most cases, it would have been a simple and cheap repair that a do-it-yourself boat owner could manage with no problem.
3. Cracking Is a Pre-Leak Sign
Spotting problems like roof cracks ahead of time are pretty self-explanatory. Look the roof over carefully for any signs of small cracks. If a small crack is left unattended it WILL become a large crack before long, most of the time leading to roof rot and expensive repairs.
Check the caulking around the windows for any cracking. Also, look around the inside of the windows for any signs of water staining. This is all a sign you have or will soon have a window leak. It’s always a good idea to look below decks as well. Check for small plumbing leaks or leaks between the hull-to-wall joint. Any signs of dark spots on the sub floor in the crawl space are a good sign of a leak from somewhere. Also, check for any loose wiring. It is easy to catch wiring while crawling around. A couple zip ties will normally fix this issue.
4. Small Now Will Snowball Later
Small maintenance problems can turn into massive expenses if not tended to in a timely manner. They can dramatically affect the resale value of your boat and in some cases make them unsellable. Money lost to issues such as this can never be recovered from the value of the boat. In other words, $50,000 spent to fix a major issue on your boat doesn’t make it worth any more than other boats that haven’t experienced this problem. So be alert and find and fix these small problems before they become large ones. Banks nowadays want to see a survey of a pre-owned boat before they will finance. If your boat has problems, generally a bank will decline financing even if the buyer’s credit is spotless.
Other than the unexpected, there isn’t a lot of mid-season maintenance needed as long as you have performed proper spring maintenance. A few minutes and a good eye can catch those unexpected problems. If they’re caught early, it will save you lots of time and trouble.