How to Keep Your Boat in Good Shape

Maintaining a boat takes time and effort. A boat owner should follow a maintenance schedule to keep his or her boat safe and in good working order.

boat repair

The boat repair dealer must obtain oral authorization from the customer before beginning work on the watercraft, stating the nature of the request or problem and the date and time of the authorization. The dealer must also provide a detailed invoice for parts and labor separately. For professional help, contact CV Composites Boat Repair.

Even the most seasoned boater can find themselves on the water with a mechanical problem. A blown fuse, disconnected wire, or leaky thru-hull fitting can quickly ruin your day on the water and often result in an expensive tow home. That’s why it’s important to keep a basic repair kit onboard your boat so you can solve these problems as they arise.

Whether you’re on the water for a relaxing family cruise, a fishing adventure, or a good time with friends, you don’t want to have your plans ruined by mechanical failure. That’s why it’s important for every boater to stay on top of scheduled maintenance and repairs. Ignoring small issues because they’re not critical at the moment is never a good strategy, especially since boats are complex machines that spend most of their lives in wet, corrosive environments.

If your fiberglass boat is showing signs of wear and tear, there are several simple fixes you can do yourself to restore the appearance of the hull. For example, scuff marks and scratches on the gelcoat can be easily repaired with epoxy. The key is to make sure the surface is clean before you begin.

Once the area is cleaned, you should roughen it up with sandpaper to allow the repair materials to adhere properly. Once the area is roughed up, you can apply a fiberglass patch to the damaged area and mix epoxy or resin according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

In this case, the hole was located on a deck with a 1/8-inch-thick fiberglass skin and a plywood core. Sounding the outer hull with a hammer revealed minimal trapped air, with only three very minor spots underneath screws (about the size of a dime). This is considered a low-risk repair because the damage is small in diameter, the fiberglass skin is relatively thick compared to the hole’s thickness, and it’s backed by dense core material.

Engine Repair

Although boats are much more durable than they used to be, they still require routine maintenance. A boat’s engine, hull, and topsides, electrical, plumbing, HVAC, moving parts, canvas, and upholstery all need some attention to stay in good working condition.

Keeping up with regular boat maintenance is a great way to reduce repair costs, prolong the life of your boat, and keep you safe while on the water. Whether it’s a recreational boat or a fishing vessel, all boats take a beating on the open water and can be exposed to a variety of elements that can damage them if not properly maintained.

Oil and filter

Changing the oil on your boat regularly can prevent engine damage. Be sure to follow the proper procedure by letting the engine run for about seven minutes, turning it off, and then placing a container under the drain plug. Remove the screw, allow the oil to drain for about 30 minutes, and then replace the oil and filter. Make sure to check other fluid levels, like power steering fluid and coolant, as well.


Your boat’s battery needs to be in good working condition in order to start the engine and run the electrical components on board. Over time, batteries naturally degrade and should be checked often, especially during the boating season. Also, it is important to clean the electrical lines of your boat on a fairly frequent basis, as dirt and debris can cause them to degrade and become a fire hazard.

Other boat maintenance items include checking the bilge pump to ensure that it is functioning correctly, as well as making sure that all safety equipment, such as flares and fire extinguishers, is up-to-date and easily accessible. Cleaning your boat with fresh water on a regular basis can help prevent the buildup of mold and mildew. Marine-designed protective waxes and fabric protectants can also be applied to wooden surfaces in order to keep them from rotting.

Electrical Repair

A good wiring diagram can save you money if you ever need to get someone else on board to help with an electrical problem. Without a diagram, the pro will have to trace each wire and then find where it goes (and that can take hours).

Most boats include some kind of schematic when they leave the factory, but these become outdated very quickly as equipment is added. Making your own diagram is not as hard as you might think, but it does require time and patience. You will likely never be able to complete it in one day or even several weekends.

Start at the primary source of current, which will be heavy-duty wires coming from the batteries to the panel/busbar or the selector switches that precede it. Then trace the current as it spreads out from there, supplying myriads of smaller wires to the various users. Look for problems as you go, such as chafed insulation (indicating that it is hot), little bumps in the insulation, and the smell of burnt wires.

The next level is to make a list of all the AC and DC sources and uses on your boat. This will also help you anticipate what needs to be drawn. Also note any GFCIs or other safety devices in the system. Make sure you know where the grounding system is located, which will be a green wire (or copper strap) that connects all the underwater metal fittings to each other.

Finally, identify where all the breaker panels are on your boat and what kinds of breaker sizes and terminals they have. If there are any wires supplying a unit that doesn’t have an associated breaker, mark it as dead by leaving a strong nylon messenger string attached to each end (and sealing them with electrician’s tape). Also, note the color of the wire and where it runs into a hole or conduit, which will make it easier to trace later.

Electronics Repair

It’s important to keep the electrical systems of boats working properly. This includes the batteries, which are essential to the engine, and all electrical components. Batteries naturally degrade over time due to entropy, so it’s important to check them regularly and make repairs as needed. This can be done by using a volt meter and cleaning any connections. Electrical lines should also be kept clean to prevent fire hazards.

The battery is like a boat’s heart; without it, the engine won’t start and the electrical components will not work. It’s important to check the battery’s charging level periodically, especially during the boating season, with a battery tester. The connections should be inspected and cleaned with a wire brush.

Another critical component of electrical repair is inspecting cable jackets, as they protect the wiring. If they are cracked or swollen, they need to be replaced. Other important checks include the bilge pump and safety gear, such as flares and fire extinguishers. It’s a good idea to invest in a tool kit that includes wrenches, screwdrivers, pliers, vise grips, and duct tape. You can also purchase marine-designed fabric protectants that seal surfaces and help prevent deterioration. These will not only save you money on repair bills but also prevent you from having to replace costly fabrics and furniture.

Upholstery Repair

A boat is a ticket to summer fun, especially if you live near a lake or other large body of water. But boats are subject to a lot of wear and tear, and they take quite a beating from repeated use and harsh conditions. Taking a few preventative steps can keep your boat in good shape for many seasons and reduce the need for costly repairs.

Start by inspecting every nook and cranny of your boat regularly. This will allow you to see when a pump stops working or a wire starts to fray. It will also make it easier to spot problems like rust or mold that might have started in a dark, damp corner of the boat.

Moisture is the enemy of any boat, and you can easily avoid mold and mildew by wiping down your boat’s interior regularly with a damp towel after each use. Wiping down your boat will also help remove dirt and salt, which can lead to rust or corrosion in the metal parts of your boat.

Clean your windows regularly as well. A light mixture of vinegar and water can kill mold spores without damaging the protective coating on most window glass. You can also wipe down the exterior of your boat with a mild dishwashing liquid.

If you have any woodwork on your boat, including wooden handrails or decks, clean it frequently with a marine-designed cleaner that will not damage the durable tropical hardwood. Regular cleaning will keep it looking new and avoid the need for expensive wood repair or replacement. Invest in a small tool kit that includes items like wrenches, screwdrivers, pliers, and a hammer.

John Murray