Summer Boat Maintenance – Use it or work on it?

Summer has arrived and the weeknights and weekends are warm with long light – meaning your days are primed to get out on your boat. You have just had the stellar NPYS service team complete spring commissioning, washed, waxed, and organized your boat. Its good to go for the season, right?! Yes – but a little work along the summer will make next winter and the following season run more smoothly.
The idea of working on your boat unless something breaks during the summer seems counter intuitive because its there for fun, not elbow grease. If you are one of those people who feels like tinkering, cleaning, fixing, and working on your boat is as good as meditation, skip to the next article. This is advice for those of us with 3 kids in lacrosse, swim, dance, and guitar lessons who are lucky to rinse the boat off after their tightly defined boating window. What else should you or someone else be doing throughout the summer?
Wash/Wax – Yes, hopefully you did this in the spring, but wax only lasts about 3 months. Think of wax like sunscreen. As often as you politely ask your kids to re-apply, do the same for your boat. Here on the Chesapeake we typically boat from May-October and some extend the season further into the shoulder months. That means if you have your boat waxed in April, it will need it again in June or July. Luckily that means you will have fresh protection for the strongest sun in July/August. What about waxing in the fall? “My boat is just going to be shrink wrapped and put away so it doesn’t need it right?” Wax helps protect the gel coat surfaces from being buffeted by the shrink wrap throughout the winter, prevents dust from settling and sticking to vertical surfaces, and helps keep the gel surfaces from further becoming porous over the winter.
Washing is a bit more straight forward. Is it dirty? Then clean it! But how well are you really cleaning the bilge? Are you scrubbing hatch gutters getting tree debris and hair out? Hiring a cleaning service twice in the summer  will go a long way. We all know from having a cleaning service come to our home how much better a job they do at cleaning baseboards than we do(OK.. maybe that’s an I, not a we statement!). Beyond a more thorough cleaning, having areas like bilges cleaned will help you identify if there are new leaks and maybe pinpoint when they started. Cleaning mechanical spaces and drying them out is also a great way to keep after pesky corrosion and rust which can be the biggest hurdle re-selling a boat.
Engine/Systems Maintenance – In theory, your engines should have oil changes and ongoing maintenance completed over the winter but don’t forget to keep an eye on zincs, Racor filters, etc. throughout the summer. In most cases large services on these systems can wait until winter, but if small things creep up repeatedly, its smart to address the small issue before they become larger. Fuel additives like StarTron are a great idea at each fill up
Boat Bottoms – If your boat has bottom paint and you notice it doesn’t go the same speed at a normal rpm or it just doesn’t hit the same speed on a broad reach, your bottom likely needs to be cleaned, This can be done in the water with a diver for $100-$200 or can be power washed at a facility like BJYY for a few bucks more.
If you keep your boat on a lift with no bottom paint it can be hard to keep the Chesapeake smile off of your pretty white bottom. That will need a bit stronger of a chemical wash which likely takes some life away from the wax you put on there in the spring. Keeping up more regularly with wax can prevent this staining in the first place.
There are lots of other items, like propellers, that are so important to efficiency that re-applying prop speed mid season will be well worth the hassle.
Canvas – Spraying a NikWax mid season on canvas products and polishing clear glass will also be well worth the return on time. Just remember to use the appropriate cleaners on clear glass to avoid haze!
What else? Make sure the cooler stays cold, the engines warm, sails ready to hoist and you are on to another great season of boating!
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