Guide to Boat Maintenance

Boat sales reached a 13-year-high in 2020, with a 12 percent increase over 2019. National Marine Manufacturers Association president Frank Hugelmeyer said, “For the first time in more than a decade, we saw an increase in first-time boat buyers,” as many Americans took to the water to explore new ways of social distancing and recreation.

Whether you are a brand-new boat owner or a veteran sailor, riding a jet ski or living on a houseboat, knowing how to properly care for your boat will help your boat perform better and run into fewer problems out on the water. Here’s a handy maintenance guide to follow before you start making waves.

Tips for Boat Maintenance in Arkansas

Perform a Visual Inspection of Your Boat

Take a quick, but close, look at your boat. Tighten screws or other attachments that might be loose. Also look for any holes or cracks that might need your attention. Finally, check your railings and lifelines to ensure they’re firmly in place.

Check Your Boat Battery

Remove the battery box and if your battery is on, turn it off. Clean the charger, batteries, and terminals of oxidation or build-up, and replace anything that’s corroded. Make sure the charger is securely connected when you replace the battery.

Ensure Your Boat is Properly Lubricated

A boat’s motor will need its oil changed periodically to function properly, and winches and other moving parts on your watercraft will likely need lubrication once per year. 

Stay Up to Date on Safety

The U.S. Coast Guard has different safety guidelines depending on the size of the boat, and it’s important to stay up to date. Your boat should always have working fire extinguishers on board that aren’t past their expiration date.

Make sure you have enough life jackets and flotation devices for all passengers. If children will be riding on the boat, ensure each child has a life jacket appropriate for their size.

Download the Arkansas Boating Laws and Responsibilities handbook from the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission to make sure you are complying with all safety laws.

Keep Your Boat Clean

It might seem counterintuitive to wash a boat before putting it in water, but you want to make sure your boat doesn’t spread non-native species to new waters. A clean, beautiful boat is also the envy of the shoreline, so get out those brushes, sponges, and soaps! Additionally, the fiberglass geI coat can oxidize and turn chalky, so regular washing and waxing will make a huge impact on prolonging the life of the boat. If possible, boat-cleaning should occur on dry land to prevent potential pollutants from entering the water.

Don’t forget the interior! Dirt and mildew can build up during storage over winter, and you want your boat to look and smell great.

Double-Check Your Mechanical Equipment

Before putting your boat on the water, check all your mechanical equipment to make sure they work properly, including:

  • Navigational lights
  • Radio
  • Horn
  • Pumps
  • Engine
  • Filters
  • Gauges

Take Another Look at Your Trailer

Don’t forget your trailer. A trailer that’s in good shape will keep your boat safe and secure in transit to and from the water. Have a helper press on the car brake to see if the brake lights on the trailer are working correctly. Make sure your tires are all inflated and that you don’t have cracked sidewalls or body rust. Since you have such an important item riding atop that trailer, you may want to leave trailer repair to the pros, which leads to the next tip: 

Use a Qualified Technician

Even if you’ve been a boat owner for years and know your boat inside and out, it’s never a bad idea to have a second pair of eyes to help spot potential problems. Enlist the help of a qualified boat technician for a full inspection of your boat and its equipment once per year to enjoy a worry-free boating season.

Insure Your Boat Properly

Part of maintaining your boat is keeping it insured against damage or loss. In Arkansas, boats with engines of more than 50 horsepower require proof of at least $50,000 liability insurance. Whether you own a ski boat, houseboat, bass boat, fishing boat, sailboat, pontoon, or jet ski, Farm Bureau Insurance offers high-quality, affordable boat insurance that will help you meet state required minimums. Get a free quote from a local Farm Bureau Insurance agent by using our Agent Finder.