Boat Maintenance: Caring for our boat

Boat maintenance does not have to be a burden. Work plan and be clear about our budget will help us protect our investment to keep costs to a minimum.

Assess the maintenance you’ll need a boat – and the cost associated with expensive equipment that need to be replaced periodically – can be a challenge for any of us, but particularly for those with less experience or looking for their first boat.


The regular and consistent boat maintenance is the key to remain safe and reliable , with minimal unexpected repair costs, and to maintain its appearance and value longer. Whatever the boat, maintenance is an ongoing process that requires us to look closely everything you might need attention, including maneuvering, capes worn, damaged candles and so on. That does not mean that regular maintenance has to be an onerous task, it is an attitude that we should cultivate, which will help us detect the first signs of deterioration, control wear that will be produced and decide what to do before it again a problem we can spoil a perfect weekend.

The old adage “prevention is better” it is as current today as when sailing ships dominated world trade in the oceans. This is especially true for the mechanical and electrical systems and all that can allow water to penetrate the structure of the boat, as in the case of elements that cross the deck maneuver.


The regulating polish and wax help keep the fiberglass as new and are particularly important in the case of dark colors, which tend to fade more quickly. Larger areas of a dead Bleached work better with an electric polisher working.

Periodically check the molded fiberglass and identify scratches, cracks and other damage to the gelcoat. All cracks should be investigated to assess its depth. We can use a sharp chisel to open the crack as v. If not extend beyond the gelcoat, an aesthetic repair gel is sufficient. However, if the damage affects the laminate you will then need professional repair.



Teak decks on boats fiberglass or aluminum have a limited life and replacing is quite expensive – Loose, parties or planks holes must be repaired immediately to prevent water from infiltrating below the deck. Much of the damage suffered these covers is washing with a bristle brush too hard, which can wear timber up to 1 mm per year. A less aggressive brush , used gently transversely to the direction of the grain helps avoid such wear, and the result is that the timber gradually acquires a natural silver appearance.

Wooden boats are more subject to damage caused by damage to the layers of paint, varnish or epoxy and problems caused by fresh water and frost. Salt water, on the other hand, acts as a mild preservative, so most of the problems we will find where the rain water to accumulate and damage the protective layers of wood allow the rot is installed .

The lack of ventilation is another mortal enemy of wooden structures. The covers we use to cover the boat or some specific area should be breathable materials. In addition, the boats need a good air flow through the housing areas and stowage spaces unless they are equipped with a marine dehumidifier. In fact, this should be a priority when caring any wooden boat to avoid bad odor and it becomes damp and mold proliferates. The difference in relation to boats fiberglass is simply that in this case the structure does not deteriorate with moisture, although the furniture and everything we store on board will be affected if we allow the interior remains moist.

Motors and other equipment

Inboard diesel engines need annual maintenance , including oil change, oil filter and fuel filters. Ideally this should be done before beaching the boat at the end of a season and winterizing the engine. Daily checks include the condition and tension of the transmission belt, an examination of all wiring to check for loose connections or wear, and the oil level and the refrigerant in the heat exchanger cooled engines freshwater.

The sacrificial anodes must be changed when degradation is approximately one third. Often, in practice, this means doing it annually. We must examine the outer edges of the propeller blades, pitting on the surface accompanied by a pink discoloration are signs of electrolytic corrosion and must determine its severity to decide what to do. Also we review the bearing seat for wear – the axis adjustment must be perfect.

The damage to the hull of metal are usually caused by the electrolysis – a white powder inside the hull around these accessories is a signal that deszincificación and must be replaced. In any case, check that all taps are operational background and lubricated before returning the boat to the water. We will also check the status of the transducers record speed and echo sounder.

The bilge pumps (and toilet) need periodic maintenance. It may not be necessary to do so annually if used only occasionally, but we must do it every two years. PVC hoses for gas have a shelf life of five years, but if you observe any signs of wear, replace them immediately and if we have no experience, the safest way is with the assistance of a qualified technician.

All safety equipment must be checked and maintained every year: lifejackets should be examined more frequently to detect scratches or damage to the seams and to confirm that the CO2 bottle is fixed in place.

Sails and rigging

We examine the sails for damage at the seams and cuts, scratches or tears – when we surf even the smallest damage will be visible against the sun so we must pay attention to areas more effort, pods saber and the leech of the headsails.

A complete overhaul of the rigging is a sensible precaution at least once a year . A purely visual inspection is not sufficient – cracks almost invisible to the eye can cause problems in aluminum and stainless steel – but is a good starting point. Check all terminals and accessories to determine which conditions are both its appearance and safety, paying particular attention to connections of crosspieces and Rigging anchor points. In the masthead we must verify that the halyards pulleys work well and grease in moderation. Also, we verify that the crosshead terminals and other elements that may damage the candles do not cause problems and are well protected tape.

To budget for boat maintenance

Often the difficulty of properly maintain an older boat is not to have known anticipate the long-term costs. Is quite simple budgeting the annual change of candles if we compete often because we know that need to be replaced more often. However, items with a longer shelf life pose a real problem because it is difficult to anticipate the exact moment they end their life. One way to avoid surprises is to have a contingency fund that will be used to fund the replacement of essential equipment. We can advise with experts and make a rough estimate of the useful life of the key to go budgeting the most expensive and adding this amount to our fund teams.


Engines: 15 to 20 years old
Mast: 25 years
Jarcia firm: 5 years (race); 10 (cruise)
Jarcia mobile: 10 years
Maneuver: 20 years
Tapicerías: 10 years
raft: 12 years
Batteries: 3 – 5 years
Teak: 10 to 20 years old
Electronics: 5 – 15 years
Candles (cruise): 10 years
Covers: 10 years

In many cases, the useful life of some equipment can be much longer, but also shorter – there is no harm in being a little pessimistic about the costs, so for my sailboat 30 feet, budget 150 euros per month ( it added to the annual maintenance costs) it is sufficient to cover the replacement of most of these teams.