General boat maintenance

Vessel maintenance doesn't have to be a chore: get into a routine and maintain your boat to prevent breakdown on the water.

This page has tips on the four main areas to check during routine maintenance of your vessel.

1 - Checking the motor

Manufacturers usually recommend a service by a specialised workshop at least once a year- even if the motor is hardly used. This ensures vital internal parts such as the water pump are checked. If your motor is used regularly, you should change your gear-box oil every three months.

  • Replace your pull cord if it is fraying
  • Check all wiring
  • Clean spark-plugs, check gaps and replace if required
  • Check compression
  • Lubricate all moving parts
  • Check and re-fill gear case oil
  • Clean cooling system passages
  • Check propeller and nut – sand or file any small cracks
  • Check and replace the sacrificial anode if required.

2 - Checking the fuel

  • Always replace old fuel - never go out with fuel which is more than six months old
  • Make sure you have enough fuel for the trip - 1/3 out, 1/3 back and 1/3 in reserve
  • Clean your fuel tank at least once a year with a suitable solvent and dispose of old fuel responsibly
  • Inspect the fuel tank for cracks or corrosion
  • Always replace old fuel after periods of inactivity
  • Inspect fuel lines, manual priming bulb and connections for cracks and leaks
  • Clean out or replace fuel filter
  • For fuel disposal please make contact with your local council for details.

3 - Checking the batteries

  • Top up battery cells with distilled water and check each cell with a hydrometer
  • The battery should be charged at a rate that is suitable to the battery and should never be over-charged
  • Batteries should be secured in brackets
  • Battery terminals, cables and casing should be kept clean
  • Grease terminals regularly
  • Test all equipment that uses the battery.

4 - Checking the structure

  • Clean and paint your boat regularly
  • Inspect boat for corrosion and cracks
  • Ensure all bungs are suitable and in good condition
  • Check for water and fuel leaks
  • Check and grease drain flaps
  • Ensure bilges are clean and dry
  • Test steering for stiffness - oil cables with the correct lubricant.

We also recommend keeping the following items on board:

  • Engine manual
  • Flywheel pull rope
  • Spare 'O' rings for fuel connector
  • New spark-plugs
  • Spark-plug spanner (or diesel injector spanner)
  • Ratchet with extender and shifting spanner
  • Spare fuses, bung and shackle
  • Sharp knife, pliers and screwdrivers
  • Spare propeller nut, washer, split pins and socket for propeller nut
  • Steel wool to clean battery terminals
  • De-watering spray (RP7 or similar)
  • Spare oil and funnel
  • Spare key and stop harness (kill switch lanyard).

Download our 'Boat structure checklist' as a PDF or accessible word document:

  • Vessel maintenance - checking your boat structure PDF, 215.1 KB
  • Vessel maintenance - checking your boat structure DOC, 114.5 KB
  • Reduce your fire risk

    Check out our fire prevention section for information on using LPG safely and maintaining your engine and electrics to reduce the risk of a boat fire.