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Get the season started

2019 March 1

Work on your boat now so you can spend the season sailing, not fixing

Be kind to the engine

Engine maintenance is all about preventing time-consuming and often expensive problems down the road. Although it may not be the most fun job on the boat, often requiring cramming one’s body into awkward positions, basic annual engine maintenance is a relatively easy way to give yourself peace of mind the rest of the season.

Ideally, the oil was changed in fall, which keeps oil and contaminants from damaging the engine during a long lay up, but if it wasn’t, make sure to change the oil in spring. If it was done in fall, just double check the oil level to make sure it is topped up.

It’s also a good practice to check all the filters as well. The primary filter (typically a Racor) should be changed when the oil is changed, and the secondary filter should be inspected. It probably won’t get dirty, but they can get old and less effective.

After that, pump off any water that might have settled in the bottom of the fuel in the tank.

SAILING’s Boat Doctor Bob Pingel advocates changing the impeller once a year as well. Although impellers may last longer than that depending on usage, it’s an easy part to replace at the beginning of the season. If you wait until it disintegrates, you’ll not only lose power at what may be an inopportune time, but you’ll be picking rubber impeller bits out for what may seem like ages.

While you’re in the engine compartment, give everything else a once over, making sure all the wiring is tightly connected and that the belts are in good shape and are snug, with about an inch of deflection for V-belts. Give the engine a push to make sure the engine mounts are sturdy.

Lastly, check your supply of engine spares, which should include belts, oil, engine and fuel filters and an impeller, regardless of whether you replaced it or not. 

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