To many of us who are lucky enough to live in Florida, we can come to rely on our boats almost as much as we rely on our cars. Boats provide many people with both recreation and employment opportunities, and a well-cared-for boat can reward you with many years of reliable service.
Just as your car requires regular maintenance and preventative care, however, you must similarly care for and watch over your boat. At Riverwatch Marina, we have seen sailors end up stranded or stuck due to poor preparation or inconsistent boat upkeep. After spending years as experts on boat maintenance and boat repair in Stuart, FL, we have learned what it takes to keep a boat running smoothly.
Before setting sail, familiarize yourself with some of the top reasons boats break down:
- Running out of gas: It may seem obvious, but one of the most common (and avoidable) mistakes seamen make is failing to bring enough fuel on board. Far too often, boats temporarily break down for no other reason than a lack of fuel. When in doubt, keeping a pen-and-paper fuel log can help you avoid any unexpected shortages
- An overheated engine: Even the most experienced skipper has seen the needle on their temperature gauge rise from time to time. If this is happening consistently, however, your boat may be headed for trouble. To avoid needing to deal with an overheated engine miles from the shoreline, make sure to regularly replace your boat’s impeller. Simple, frequent maintenance appointments can prevent minor problems from becoming major ones down the road
- A faulty steering system: A boat that runs but won’t steer is just as bad as a boat that won’t run — and problems with your steering system can leave you stranded at the very worst of times. There are two common reasons a boat will not steer properly: either the steering system is low on hydraulic fluid, or the system has a leak. Just as you would regularly check the oil levels in your car and perform routine oil changes, make sure to check your boat’s steering fluid level monthly and to always have an extra container on board. Additionally, learn how to handle small, spur-of-the-moment repairs yourself before they are needed out on the water
- Electrical issues: There is a whole host of electrical problems that can wreak havoc on the health of your boat, the most common being a break in the ignition circuit or a dead battery. The key to avoiding an electrical failure while at sea is to regularly inspect and repair your boat’s wiring. Always allow your battery enough time to recharge before the next use, and keep small tools such as screwdrivers and wrenches on board in the event that you need to perform minor fixes with little notice
- A snapped engine belt: Broken engine belts are another common reason boats break down, but a snapped belt is not always the easiest to spot. The most obvious sign that your belt may be busted is an engine that abruptly stops running even when all other electrical and mechanical functions seem to be occurring as normal. Always check the condition of your engine belt before heading out, looking it over thoroughly for cracks or tears. If the boat does happen to break down, luckily, simply carrying a spare belt with you can be enough to keep you from remaining stuck for long
At Riverwatch Marina, we offer mechanical labor services to our Stuart, FL customers whose boats are in need of repairs. If it has been more than a few months since your boat’s last “check-up,” make an appointment with us today by calling (772) 286-3456.