Fall maintenance checklist

To get the most out of your boating experience in spring, it's important to plan ahead in the autumn. Every spring, we receive calls from boat owners who might have avoided costly repairs by doing fall maintenance. Many "spring issues" annoy boaters and require a long time to fix during the busiest boat repair season from February to May, ranging from dead batteries to fractured engine blocks. As the boating season winds down for the year, here are some tips to keep your vessel safe and ready for the upcoming spring boating season.

Step one: Servicing the Engine

The fall is the best time of year for a trained marine mechanic to do the manufacturer's engine service. Summer usage of your car's engine oil can cause it to get contaminated with acids and moisture, which can lead to engine problems in the winter. Most manufacturers recommend an engine service every 100 hours or once a year, which includes an oil change, oil filter change, onboard fuel filter change, fuel water separator service, engine anodes replacement, water pump service, and a variety of other inspections and maintenance tasks.

Step two: Inspect and test the charging performance of batteries

When a boat won't start in the spring, it's frequently because the batteries have failed or the charging system isn't up to snuff. Preventative measures can save money and time.

Step three: Assess sinking risks by testing bilge pumps

When we recover sunken client boats from the ocean in the fall and spring, rain storms around the British Columbia coast are frequently to blame. The true culprit, on the other hand, is usually a faulty bilge pump or a leak in the canvas or some other part of the bilge system. If you've observed leaks throughout the summer, have the electrical system of your bilge pump checked, and have someone check on your boat once or twice a month to spot any problems before they become serious.

Step four: Prepare for the winter

If you don't winterize your boat, you're putting yourself and your pricey marine equipment at risk of catastrophic damage every year. Winterizing engines, generators, freshwater systems, and water makers is best left to a reputable service provider or knowledgeable individual with the appropriate knowledge and equipment.

Step five: Change the oil in your sterndrive or outboard gear.

Don't let filthy, contaminated, or watery gear oil linger in your sterndrive or outboard lower unit all winter. Drain, examine, and replenish the gear oil in the fall. Consider sending the gear oil to a laboratory to find any leaks, metal shavings, or other growing concerns before you wish to go out on the water for the following season.