Boat Maintenance Tasks You May Have Overlooked

When you think about boat and outboard maintenance, you think about stuff like engine oil changes, cleaning the boat’s hull, etc. The obvious stuff, if you will.

Overlooked boat maintenance tasks

However, today we decided to focus on easy tasks that may not immediately come to mind when we think about boat maintenance. We’re saving overlooked outboard maintenance tasks for another list (coming soon), but in the meantime, here are some simple boat maintenance jobs you may have overlooked.

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Overlooked Boat Maintenance Jobs

Bilge Maintenance

The bilge gets dirty faster than perhaps any other part of the boat that’s above water. Washing the bilge regularly not only prevents foul smells, but makes it easier to inspect.

overlooked boat maintenance bilge pump

Bilge pumps in particular should be cleaned and tested for issues. These pumps are typically found at the bottom of the bilge, where water enters the hull. A bilge pump’s main purpose is to purge nuisance water out of the hull.  

The bilge is a harsh environment for anything electric, so it’s important to inspect all the electrical connections for wear and corrosion, and make watertight connections where needed. You should test bilge pumps regularly to make sure they’re doing their job.

Steering System Maintenance

A boat’s steering system needs maintenance of its own, but it’s often overlooked until something goes wrong. How’s that hydraulic steering fluid looking? 

Overlooked boat maintenance steering system

When doing steering system maintenance, inspect and replace any worn parts like steering linkages and tubes, and even the steering wheel itself. Grab a grease gun and grease up the zerk fittings on these parts if they have them. Don’t forget to test the steering system cables while you’re at it.

Metal and Wood Maintenance

It’s easy to remember to clean your boat, but what about polishing up the hardware? When cleaning your boat, give those hand rails and cleats a good polishing.  

Overlooked boat maintenance tasks wood

Polish metal pipes to prevent pitting and corrosion so that they’ll last much longer. Do the same for the nuts and bolts that hold the hardware in place. While you’re at it, inspect all of that hardware to make sure everything is nice and tight. 

If you’re doing teak deck maintenance, inspect it for rotting and cracks in the wood, and use marine sealants to make repairs. Then, clean and polish up that wood with a teak care kit.

Boat Upholstery Cleaning

Cleaning upholstery, particularly the seats, may often be overlooked when maintaining a boat. After all, cleaning decks and hulls and bilges takes a lot of energy. But no matter how tired you are after cleaning everything else, keeping the upholstery clean should be included in the process. 

Overlooked boat maintenance upholstery

Not only should you clean stains from the crap that gets spilled on the seats and other upholstery, but you should also dry it to prevent cracking and mold and mildew. Use a quality vinyl cleaner on upholstered items on your boat. Don’t forget to inspect the upholstery for cracks, wear-and-tear and mold. Check the stitching as well, and make sure you clean and inspect your boat’s canvas or Bimini top for the same reasons. 

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Boat Trailer Maintenance

We’ve covered boat trailer maintenance in the past, but we’d be remiss not to include it on this list. After all, we pay so much attention to our boats that we often forget to give the thing that transports it to and from the water some love. 

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Trailer maintenance includes repacking wheel bearings, inspecting tires and replacing trailer lights. It’s also a good idea to inspect the safety chains, the trailer hitch and coupler, and any other components that may be worn out. 

Boat Anchor Maintenance

Because they spend so much time underwater, it’s easy to forget that boat anchors too need some attention, specifically their lines and/or chains. Anchor rodes (the connections from anchor to the boat) have to be strong enough not only to hold the anchor, but also to withstand harsh conditions like waves and wind that could cause them to deteriorate and snap. Inspect anchor rodes for signs of wear-and tear and corrosion frequently. You don’t want your anchor lines to snap and leave your boat adrift, so like everything else, inspect and replace them if they’re worn. 

All of these often-overlooked boat maintenance tasks contribute to maintaining the resale value of your boat. If you’re planning on saying goodbye to your vessel, watch the video above for tips on selling a used boat.




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