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  • Writer's pictureSpencer Kent

5 THINGS YOU CAN DO YOURSELF TO SAVE BIG ON BOAT MAINTENANCE

We've all heard the acronym BOAT stands for Break Off Another Thousand, here are 5 Jobs that are relatively simple to do that can save you big bucks to spend on enjoying a boat.

In our previous insights sites, we talked about making sure you are familiar with your engine space and doing simple maintenance yourself can help you get acquainted with that area as it is the heart of the boat.


1. Oil Changes

Changing oil yourself can save you time and money. Waiting on mechanics to do it before your boating season can take a while as they are busy working on other people's boats. While the oil changes aren't very expensive, they can have 2-3 hours of labor included in them and even travel time. With the average marine mechanic charging $100-$150/hr and for travel time, doing this yourself can save you almost $500. If your boat is not equipped with an oil change system, there are products like the Jabsco oil change pump that works by clipping 2 alligator clips to your batteries and powers a 12v pump hooked to a tube that slides in the dipstick. Be sure to follow the instructions on the pump and the manufacture suggested oil for your engines. Some engines are very particular about the type and brand of oil required, so make sure you research ahead of time.

During this process, you will also need to change your oil filters, date your filters with a sharpie and log the process in your ship's log. These logs mean a lot to perspective buyers that can see you're an attentive owner and can get you a 10%-20% premium to other yachts on the market if you are diligent. If you want to go one step further, you can pull oil samples at this time and send them to facilities that will analyze the oil. These samples in one sampling will not tell you much, but having samples over a prolonged period of time will establish how your particular engines wear metals and can give you a warning of internal failures and how to address it early before it costs you many thousands of dollars.


2. Changing Your Own Batteries

Again, this is a fairly simple job, it just takes time. A pro tip is to make sure you take photos of all the connections before you remove the old ones and be sure to hook everything back up the same. Otherwise, your attempt to save some money will cost you much more with the potential for ruining your battery bank and 12V equipment getting the wrong charge.


3. Painting Your Own Bottom

This is not a fun job! That is why marinas charge a lot for it. Many marinas also will not let you do it yourself because the paint is bad for the environment, so you want to use a tarp to collect the dust particles from sanding and a sander with a collection bag. Also, make sure to have a full suit, mask, and goggles to protect yourself from the harmful toxins in the paint. Your average bottom job for a 32’-38’ boat which are the most common in the market can cost $1500-$2000. Your only costs are paint costs at about $150/gal, and you will only need 2-3 gallons for boats this size.


4. Impeller (Water Pump) and Belt Changes

This is listed later because these are a little more difficult and you will need some mechanical skills to do these. They are not massively difficult however doing it wrong can cause failures of your engine cooling system which is critical for engine health. Not doing these jobs frequently can also cause failures while on the water. Impellers are supposed to be changed every 2 years, or based on hours (read your manufacture specs), failure to do so can cause larger problems like an impeller shredding and getting stuck in the cooling system which is NOT a fun job. You have to pull the whole cooling system apart looking for the fins and keep fishing until you have all the parts to make the impeller whole again. For this reason and the simplicity of the job once you have it down we advise doing it more regularly than necessary as a properly cooled engine is a happy engine. Changing a belt is fairly simple, you order the right one to your engine, and reinstall it in the same way you pulled the last one off (take a picture!) and follow the diagram in your engine manual.


5. Keeping on top of your plumbing systems and winterization where applicable.

It's important to stay vigilant about your plumbing systems and winterize them as necessary. Your boat likely has various filters, pumps, hoses, and other components running throughout it. Cleaning these filters on a regular basis can help prolong the life of your pumps, and changing them yourself can save you hundreds of dollars in mechanic fees. While it does require a bit of electrical knowledge, it's generally a straightforward process. To extend the lifespan of your HVAC systems (which can cost anywhere from $2000 to $3000), make sure to clean the lines and flush them with fresh water if you'll be away from your boat for a while. Familiarizing yourself with the location of all these pumps and fittings can also help you prepare for winterizing your boat and its systems. While hiring a mechanic to winterize your boat can cost between $1000 and $2500, doing it yourself can cost less than $300. However, missing even one system can be costly, so it's important to create a thorough checklist (including items like the shower head on the back of your boat) and triple-check everything before putting your boat away for the winter. Hiring a mechanic can be a good option since they carry insurance and will be liable for any overlooked systems - just make sure to confirm their insurance beforehand.


Keeping up with your boat's maintenance is crucial for its longevity and performance on the water. Not only will you be able to ensure that everything is functioning properly, but you'll also have a better understanding of your boat's overall condition. If you're interested in buying or selling a boat, our yacht brokerage can provide you with the expertise and resources to help you make the most informed decisions.


Contact us today to learn more about how Calm Seas Yachting can assist you in your boating needs.




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