How to Protect and Maintain Your Boat Year-Round

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No matter the material your boat is made of, it will need regular cleanings and protective coatings applied to keep it looking sharp. These maintenance projects may need to be done each time you take the boat from the water or on a seasonal basis. No matter your initial investment, one of the major truths of boat ownership is that maintenance is easier and less costly than repair.

Regular Washings

Wash your boat with a gentle soap and a sponge each time you take it off the water. Minerals and salt from freshwater or ocean exposure can do a lot of damage to your boat’s finish. Getting into the habit of washing the boat once it’s up on the trailer can extend the life of your boat.

If your boat is covered with a gel coat, consider using a wash ‘n wax product.

Seasonal Protectants

UV light is very hard on fiberglass finishes and any existing gel coat. The gel coat will oxidize and give your boat a chalky look. Over time, this oxidation will lead to flaking and may eventually impact the integrity of the fiberglass. Additionally, UV and weather exposure will lead to the fading of your boat’s motor and its decals. Having Yamaha outboard covers to protect your motor and keep it looking brand new is a great way to protect your investment.

Once you wash your boat before seasonal storage, review your manufacturer’s manual to find the best product to seal your boat. If you don’t have inside storage, make sure you have a durable fabric cover to keep the weather out of your winterized boat. If your boat is exposed to the sun over the course of the winter, make sure you also cover your trailer tires to reduce UV damage to the rubber.

Canvas Care

Any canvas canopies over your boat should be allowed to dry fully before folding and storing. Canvas can hold a great deal of moisture. Consider removing the canopy and getting it professionally cleaned and dried before storing it.

While you have it down, review the condition of your canopy to make sure that hookups and seams are holding up well. If you notice wear, fading, or staining and you’re interested in replacing it, check with your manufacturer or consider taking your existing canopy to a fabrication shop.

Canvas fabricators may be able to use your old canopy as a pattern and build you a new one that could be made of a more weather-resistant fabric or even in a custom color to suit your preference.

Keep Upholstery Looking New

Leather or vinyl upholstery will need to be cleaned with a recommended product for marine fabric. Regular leather polish may actually increase the risk to any leather upholstery, upping the sensitivity to UV rays or leading to discoloration. If recommended for your region, consider unzipping vinyl covers to allow the cushions to dry fully once your boat is in storage.

The biggest risk to canvas or breathable upholstery is moisture. Make sure that you never leave anything on the fabric cushions of your boat when it goes into storage. The moisture that builds up in the cushions will need to evaporate in storage. If you cover the fabric, that moisture could lead to mildew and discoloration.

Be aware that moisture can also build up if your storage building gets very cold overnight but warms up in the day. The condensation on the windows is also building up on your boat. If conditions are extreme in the space where you store your boat, you may need to bring in the cushions at the end of the season.

Engine Care

Having to get a new engine or motor can be a massive expense, so keeping it maintained is incredibly important. If your engine stores in cold conditions, follow the manufacturer’s instructions about the best way to winterize the engine to protect it from freezing damage. Any moisture in the engine can lead to cracks and damage in cold conditions, so make sure you drain all the fluids that can cause harm.

When you’re boating each week or every other weekend, you probably don’t need to do any draining. Your spring engine service will let you know of any leaks to wash out for. Keeping a supply of extra repair gear, from lubricant to spare parts, will reduce your worries as you plan your next boating adventure.

Carefully review your maintenance manual for maintenance tasks to complete after each outing and for each season. A failed engine can leave you stranded in a dangerous spot, so staying on top of that maintenance is key. Other maintenance tasks will cost you a bit of work now for great savings later.


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