Maintaining a Saltwater Boat

Boat maintenance is about more that just keeping appearances. To avoid oxidation, the gel coat on a fiberglass hull must be cleaned regularly. This ensures the hull will not become cloudy and that the structural integrity of the hull is maintained. Salt will also corrode any metal used on the boat and needs to be kept off whenever possible. Clean the hull every four to 12 weeks following these steps:

  • Inspect the hull: Look for anything that may need repairs, scratches, holes, etc.
  • Check the drain plugs: Make sure they are well fastened and not corroded.
  • Rinse the hull: Do this after every use with fresh water to avoid build up.
  • Apply an eco-friendly boat cleaner: Find one that is compatible with your hull
  • Wipe the boat down: Use a soft sponge to avoid scratches and for harder to remove spots continually scrub down in a circular motion.
  • Remove hard-set grime and barnacles: Use a hose with higher pressure to get off some of the harder set scum lines and barnacles.

Cleaning Boat Upholstery

If you have good quality boat upholstery it should withstand sun damage and mold growth. Even so, without maintenance you may still notice cracking or bubbling over time. You should clean the upholstery at least twice a year to avoid these issues, here’s how:

  • Sweep the cracks and crevices: Remove any dirt with a fine bristled brush.
  • Apply a vinegar solution: Use a spray bottle and let the solution sit for a couple minutes before wiping down.
  • Rinse all treated surfaces: Use warm water to remove any treated areas on the boat.
  • Dry off excess moisture: Microfiber cloths are good for drying off surfaces while staying gentle.
  • Apply a marine fabric protector: This will extend the life span of your boats upholstery.

Other Maintenance Requirements

Here are some commonly missed inspection points when checking your boat for proper maintenance at home:

  • Inspect the battery: Check for corrosion with a wire brush and make sure it is producing the proper output. If it reads below 13.2 amps it is time to replace the battery.
  • Check the propeller: Make sure it is clear of any obstructions. Check for damage to the propeller and make sure to grease the shaft twice a year.
  • Inspect the bilge pump: The bilge pump should be cleaned out after every 50 hours of use. Check for any debris or loose or damaged hoses.
  • Examine the electrical lines: Keep electrical lines organized and check for any damaged lines.

This article is based on information from the original source: “Maintaining a Saltwater Boat Hull” by California Yacht Marina.