Taking care of a boat can be more than a lot of boat owners bargained for. There are plenty of things on a boat that can break and will. To keep ahead of things every new boat owner need to know a few basics or they will find out too quickly what BOAT stands for; broke or about to and break out another thousand. Since outboards boat are most likely to be the first purchase of a new boater that is where we are going today.
Battery (s) can cause more that just aggravation, they can cause big problems if not taken care of properly. Low battery voltage can damage starters and tilt/trim motors. While it may not make sense at first, motors running at lower voltage draw higher current. Higher current means higher heat. Cable insulation and insulation on motor windings can be damaged Keep the batteries in top condition and you can save money.
Checking the water level batteries is a must. If you have to add water distilled water is recommended. Add enough water to each cell needing more to full point. At full, you should see a dimple in the cell water created by the rectangular full slot in the cell. This should be a weekly check at first until you learn your boat.
Start with clean, tight battery connections and keep them that way. A very thin but even coat of marine grease helps keep corrosion away. If you have wing nuts to hold the battery cable in place think about changing to stainless steel hex nuts with stainless steel dimple lock washers underneath. The dimple lock washers or star lock washers provide for a better connection and prevent loose connections. Make sure they are stainless. Check your battery terminals regularly to make sure there is no corrosion.
Last for batteries, don’t over load them. Just because there are 4 million neat electronic gadgets you can buy doesn’t mean you need them all. If you have a lot of stuff running, like the stereo, bait-tank pump, plug-in cooler and the big screen bottom finder, think about turning a few things off before starting the engine.
Your motor manufacturer will give you a big list of things to do to keep your motor in good shape. Hidden in all that literature is checking your prop shaft. Fishing line wrapped around the prop shaft kills lower units and the damage is not under warrantee. Learn to pull your propeller regularly and make sure no monofilament line is hiding behind the prop. Make sure you know how to properly pull and replace the prop before attempting to pull the prop. Any dealer will be glad to show you how, or check in your owner’s manual. Keep a light coat of marine grade grease on the prop shaft. Even it you don’t fish, other people do so check for line regularly.
Keep water out of your fuel. A water separator filter is design to do this job and will if you keep it clean. Depending on how often you operate the boat, you should check separator filter once every month or so. While we are on fuel, make sure the fuel you use meets the manufacturers recommendations. Ethanol additives over ten percent are not generally allowed. Higher ethanol levels can cause a lot of expensive damage to your outboard.
Your bilge pump is a pretty important piece of equipment. Check it often to makes sure the connections are clean and the bilge is clean. If you bought a used boat there may be more trash in the bilge than is good for the bilge pump. Think about adding a screen wire strainer for the bilge pump. This strainer should be at least twice the diameter of the pump and open at the top. I make my own by wrapping a three-inch high piece of plastic or fiberglass screening around the perimeter of a treated wood-mounting base.
Finally, make a list of all the tools you used to tighten the battery terminals, pull the prop, check the fuel/water separator and repair bilge pump wires. Keep these tools on the boat just in case. Wrapping the tools up in an oil soaked rag will keep them usable when you need them.
One last tip, a boat that never gets used breaks just as often as one that does. Get out on the water and enjoy your new toy.