Boats, like people, age. The shine goes away, they get cracks and stains, their engines slow down, they lose control of fluids, and they start playing bridge.
But, unlike people, boats don’t deserve to age peacefully in retirement. If your boat or yacht is showing signs of aging, or if you have recently purchased a used boat, you probably need to think about maintenance and restoration.
The restoration checklist for fiberglass or aluminum yachts includes:
- The engine(s)
- Any moving parts
- The exterior
- Electrics and plumbing
Bad news, your yacht’s engine needs maintenance at least once a year.
Good news, yearly maintenance of a healthy boat should cost less than a tenth of the boat’s original price. And that price can go down if you do a few steps on your own.
Emptying old fuel and oil from the engine and gear case is a safe start; infact, after every outing in salt-water, the engine should be flushed. Also, any organic material or trapped objects should be removed, and older belts and hoses should be replaced. For especially old or neglected engines, though, a full engine replacement might be the safest and cheapest solution.
Some of the most important moving parts in a yacht are already treated by the oil, but parts like hinges, zippers, and tracks should be checked, both to make sure they work and to make sure they’re lubricated.
The hull, windows, deck, and any canvases or upholstery need regular maintenance. Fiberglass boats will turn chalky over time, which doesn’t just hurt the appearance of the boat, but also jeopardizes the integrity and waterproofing of the hull. This occurs when the gelcoat (the outer layer of fiberglass boats) oxidizes.
A simple step to prevent those problems is to wash your yacht every time you use it. But, even with that precaution, eventually the gelcoat will need to be treated. To do this:
- Remove all railings and pieces that you don’t want damaged
- Wash the hull with boat soap
- Repair small cracks with a fiberglass epoxy
- Remove stains with an acid-based stain remover (safely!)
- Polish (use composite if the gelcoat needs extra care)
- Wax with marine wax
ELECTRICS AND PLUMBING
The last consideration is any electric or plumbing requirements. For smaller boats, this can include a few aesthetic pieces like lighting and radio, but for large boats like yachts, this can be the most important and complex step on the checklist.
Unfortunately, there’s not many DIY solutions for yacht owners who haven’t studied electrical engineering, but one tip that can still make your life easier and save some pennies is to hire a company that is tailored to yachts and that can work on multiple systems under the same check.
For example, Coastal Offshore X-cellence is a high-end electrical engineering company in South Florida that tailors to yacht restoration, and maintenance. But in addition to repairing and replacing electrical equipment, the company also provides yacht stabilizers and HVAC services.
An important tip for someone buying an old boat that needs repairs is that restoration can often be greater than the cost of the boat. If you are buying a broken yacht with plans to get in the water within a couple months, I would reconsider. Instead, you could buy a more expensive yacht that won’t need so many repairs, or you could try partnering with a friend to split the costs of restoration. For any yacht owners, when it comes to maintenance, the most important tip is to be regular, and the sooner you treat your yacht, the better.