5 Tips to Properly Care for Your Boat When Traveling

Heading out on a boating trip is exciting. It requires maintenance to ensure the journey goes smoothly. Whether preparing for a brief weekend outing or a longer voyage, keeping your boat in top shape is essential. Proper care helps you avoid unexpected issues and maximize your time on the water. Here are five practical tips to help maintain your boat while traveling, ensuring a hassle-free and enjoyable experience.

Clean and Wash Your Boat

To remove damaging substances and maintain the boat’s finish, you only need fresh water, boat-specific soap, a soft-bristle brush, and boat wax. For those who find cleaning rust and other stains daunting, Stryker T Tops offers premium marine-grade anodized aluminum T-tops that resist corrosion and can help keep your boat looking new for years.

Check The Oil

Boats need oil to run; special boat oils help keep the engine safe from rust, water, and wear. First, see if your boat has an inside or outside engine. For outside engines with a dipstick, pull it out, clean it off, put it back in, and then check how much oil is there. 

Add more oil if needed, and look in your manual for the oil to use. If your boat has an inside engine, open the engine area and do the same steps. If your boat has multiple engines, check each one.

Change your gear lube every 100 hours or at least once every year. Check all the engine’s lines and hoses for any signs of wear or leaks. If something looks wrong, call a boat repair person. Checking the oil before you go can help prevent engine damage and getting stuck on the water.

Inspect Under the Cowling

After checking the oil, inspect beneath the hood or cowling. If your boat operates in saltwater and has outboards, be vigilant for any saltwater beneath the hood as it can corrode metal nearly ten times more rapidly than freshwater does.

If you find saltwater, clean it with freshwater before applying a corrosion-resistant spray such as CRC to safeguard the hood’s components. In the case of inboard saltwater boats, the engine compartment should be mostly dry; absorb any water present immediately with a towel to prevent corrosion.

Intense corrosion is less of a concern for boats used in freshwater with outboards, but ensure that the area under the cowling remains dry. Freshwater inboard boats might have some water in the engine compartment, which is typically not alarming.

However, if there’s excessive water, it’s wise to consult with a marine mechanic and refrain from using the boat until the problem is resolved. Additionally, clear away any loose debris you find. With the hood inspection complete, you’re another step closer to setting sail.

Examine Your Prop

The propeller serves as the main force behind the engine. Begin by ensuring it can rotate smoothly in both directions. If it’s unable to move in either forward or reverse, the prop shaft may be obstructed, often due to entangled monofilament or braid preventing rotation.

Should the fishing line become lodged in the prop, it risks damaging the seal that contains the lower unit oil, potentially resulting in expensive repairs, so vigilance is key. Firmly tug on the prop back and forth until the boat vibrates to verify the tightness of the prop nuts. This simple procedure can confirm if the prop nuts need tightening.

Before departure, particularly when you’re setting off, pay close attention to your dock lines, especially with less experienced guests who might inadvertently leave a line trailing in the water, posing a risk of entanglement with the prop.

Should a rope get caught, immediately shut off the engine to remove it, as ignoring it may lead to engine damage due to restricted prop movement. For boats equipped with multiple outboards, such as center consoles, avoid operating the vessel if one engine fails. Running with compromised engines forces the remaining ones to work harder, leading to potential overstrain.

Inspect Your Bilge

The bilge accumulates engine fluids and condensation at your boat’s lowest region. Observing minimal fluid is expected, yet a significant accumulation indicates a problem. Spotting fuel in your bilge can point to a minor leak or a grave mechanical fault. In such cases, refrain from using your boat until a mechanic has examined it.

Regular inspections are essential for vessels equipped with bilge pumps, particularly those with several. Ensure they’re not obstructed by debris and that all components, including valves and screws, are securely fastened. 

Verify the battery’s functionality and charge level for electric bilge pumps. Without diligent maintenance and inspections, bilge pumps are prone to rapid degradation, especially in saltwater’s corrosive environment. Given the swiftly changing conditions at sea, functioning bilge pumps can be crucial in emergencies.


Ensuring your boat receives consistent upkeep when traveling is crucial for its sustained operation and safety. Whether the maintenance is personal or handled by skilled professionals, attentive care for your vessel is key to enjoying prolonged boating adventures.

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