Boating Basics Online - Basic Boating Safety Course
Chapter 5 - Preparation

Preventive Maintenance

Keeping your boat in good working order is just as much a part of the boating experience as the boating itself. Almost all elements of safety revolve around the fact that the boat has been maintained and all its parts and systems are able to perform as they were designed. Negligence in this area will eventually lead to an unsafe or disastrous experience. In recently reported accidents, 8% of reporting vessels listed boat equipment/maintenance related factors as the cause. Additionally, 4% of all fatalities were due to boat equipment/maintenance related factors.

Engine/Running Gear

Oil canYou should get in the habit of not only inspecting and checking all the engine components and fluids each and every time you go boating, but also doing periodic maintenance.

Engine/Running Gear maintenance tips include:

General Maintenance

Washing the boatKeep the hull and decks of the boat clean and properly waxed. This protects the hull from deterioration from the sun, and a clean hull will give you better fuel efficiency. Fiberglass should be cleaned with fresh water and a nonabrasive soap. If necessary, a soft brush should be used to help remove debris caught in crevices. Patch any cracks that occur due to stress, age or accident.

Keep all aluminum and stainless parts clean and polished with a good metal wax. If not adequately maintained, metals on boats corrode quickly, especially in a salt water environment. Check all screws, bolts and other fittings to keep secure. Protect the value of your boat.

The majority of failures in modern day boats are caused by corroded electrical systems. Keep all electrical fittings dry, free of corrosion, and coated with a water repelling, non-conductive grease or corrosion inhibitor such as Pertox.

If at all possible, keep your boat under cover in a garage, carport or boat storage unit. At a minimum, keep a cover on your boat to protect the topsides, floors, seats etc. from the effects of the sun and rain.


Especially important in larger vessels is the continual maintenance of each system on the boat. An adequate and properly working system, which does what it was designed to do, will make each boating experience a pleasant one. Provide preventive maintenance according to the manufacturer's recommendation to the following:

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