Some of us like lists, and “To Do” lists are often at the top of the….sorry…list. Many people confess to adding a completed item to their “to do” list just so they can cross it off. Boat maintenance lends itself well to the list making process. Companies like WheelHouse Technologies exist solely for this purpose, generating comprehensive lists of items that require service. Cruising itineraries also create opportunities for list makers, listing places to go, things to do, dates, and so on.
Sometimes however, the things you don’t do matter just as much, if not more. In that spirit, here is my Boat Maintenance NOT To Do List:
- Do not compound and wax your gelcoat so aggressively that you prematurely wear away the finish.
- Do not let minor raw water leaks on your engine cause extensive rust and corrosion of the engine itself, the engine mounts, or peripheral components. The damage happens so slowly that you don’t even notice.
- Do not continue to tighten your stuffing box when it continually increases its drip rate. If the dripping cannot easily be adjusted to an acceptable level, get the stuffing box repacked. Otherwise you risk excessive wear of the shaft, and thousands of dollars of repair costs.
- Do not clean your teak deck with a scrub brush and do not clean with the grain. The bristles will wear away the grain unevenly, swiping away the softer grain, and leaving the harder grain raised. The result is an unsightly deck that holds more dirt and water, and which will wear unevenly.
- Do not install any hardware on your deck or cabin without properly protecting the deck core from moisture intrusion.
- Do not allow water to drip continually onto varnished interior woodwork. Teak that has turned dark is almost impossible to restore without replacing or applying new veneer. A leaking port might cost $300 to re-bed, while restoring the damaged veneer might cost $1,000 or even much more.
- Do not ignore your seacocks. Like you they need regular exercise, otherwise they become stiff and will not function when you need them.
- Do not assume you know how many seacocks you have. At your next haul out, count the holes in the bottom of your boat, and then make sure you can account for the same number inside the boat.
- Do not continually run your boat at low RPM. If you want to cruise at lower speeds, run the engine(s) at 75% or more load for at least 15 minutes at the beginning of each run, and repeat at the end. And of course, do not ignore the recommendations of the engine manufacturer.
- Do not let your “to do” list keep you from cruising.
I’d love to hear from readers if you have a NOT To Do List of your own. How about a cruiser’s NOT To Do List, or a navigator, captain, or mate’s list? We will publish the best of those lists in this column. And now I can add “write PassageMaker blog” on my to do list, so that I can put a check mark by it.
Steve Zimmerman is the president of Zimmerman Marine which operates four boat yards in Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina. Steve has been repairing and building boats for almost four decades and in addition to running the yards, he assists boat buyers.