Top Boat Maintenance Tips for Ontario Boaters

Ontario Boat Maintenance Tips

Ontario is well-known to be a haven for anyone who loves getting out on the lake in a boat. Ontario boasts an astonishing number of lakes, clocking in at more than 250,000 individual lakes that contain one-fifth of the fresh water in the entire world. Is it any wonder that many Ontarians dream of owning their own boat?

While the right boat may qualify as the ultimate recreational toy for Ontario boat owners, they require diligent monthly, quarterly and yearly maintenance to avoid costly repairs and keep the vessel in safe, operable conditions. Here are a few Ontario proper boat maintenance tips from the brokers at Morison Insurance on what you need to do to keep your boat clean and in excellent condition all year 'round, regardless of your boat type.

Monthly Boat Maintenance Tips

Some tasks need to be done once per month if you've been using your boat regularly, and others need to be completed each month even if (or primarily if) the boat has yet to be used at all that month. Here are some Ontario boat maintenance tips that boat owners should look into once per month.

Clean Boat Exterior

Whether you've used it recently or not, cleaning the exterior of your boat once per month can go a long way toward keeping it in great shape. It should be scrubbed with a non-abrasive soft bristle brush, fresh water and a boat soap that won't damage your gelcoat. If you opt to use a pressure washer or power washer, it needs to be on the softest pressure to avoid taking chunks out of your gel coat. Pressure washers can be damaging in the hands of an amateur, so consider having this professionally done if you've never used one before.

Clean Boat Interior

While you're busy cleaning the exterior, it doesn't hurt to clean the interior as well to remove dirt, dust, salt and other substances that can eat away at interior finishes if left alone for too long. Wipe down surfaces, vacuum if necessary, and swab the deck with soapy water.

Turn On Engine

If you have yet to have the opportunity to turn on the boat engine over the last month, switch it on while you're working on your other boat maintenance tasks and let it run for 30 minutes while listening for any noises that indicate it's struggling. Make sure to also check for any visual engine damage as well. This would also be a great time to check that all gauges and monitors work. If anything is not acting normally, you may need to inspect the electrical lines and other electrical components for issues.

Pump Waste Tank

Your waste tank must be pumped out monthly if it's been used since the last pump out. Some boat owners choose to handle this boat maintenance task themselves, but you can also hire someone to take care of it if you're not willing or able to deal with it monthly.

Inspect Propeller

This is likely one of the most neglected Ontario boat maintenance tips, but it's also easy and fast if you have an outboard motor. Raise it and give it a careful propeller inspection, looking for dents, dings, nicks and other problems, such as fishing lines or plant matter tangled around the prop shaft. Many boat owners need to realize that even seemingly insignificant spots of damage on the propeller can reduce the boat's performance levels and cause it to use fuel inefficiently, ultimately costing you more money in fuel charges.

Quarterly Boat Maintenance Tips

Next up, here are some Ontario boat maintenance tips that should be completed quarterly or once every three months. It's optional to do these things every month, but they should be done at least three to four times yearly to ensure good boat health and prevent deterioration or avoidable mishaps.

Check Fuel Line

Fuel lines don't last forever, and they can eventually develop cracks or holes that can let fuel leak into the bottom of the vessel. That's obviously a waste of fuel, but the far more concerning aspect is that it could cause a fire that destroys the boat and leads to injuries or even fatalities. Especially if you have an older fuel line, take the time to check it thoroughly several times per year for any signs of damage, and have it replaced if you notice issues that could turn into more significant problems.

Check Battery

Dead batteries pose a massive problem for boat owners, and it's actually one of the most common reasons for needing rescue and a tow back to shore. The best way to avoid this stressful, expensive and time-consuming problem is to check regularly to ensure your battery is charged and that it is still capable of holding its charge and is fully topped up with distilled water. Also, look at the battery terminal connections to ensure they don't have corrosion and aren't coming loose.

Examine the Hull

Once per quarter, examine your boat's hull for new signs of damage, such as dings or scratches, and check inside for any indications of a leak. While at it, check to ensure your bilge pump is operating correctly and bung plugs are securely in place.

Check Oil and Coolant Levels

It's essential to check your oil and other fluid levels three to four times per year, but you also need to take a look at the colour of your engine oil—just like a car, it needs to be replaced when it darkens. Conversely, if you notice it has a cloudy appearance or the oil level seems to be rising on its own, you need the help of a mechanic before the problem worsens. While you're doing your quarterly boat maintenance, also take the time to check coolant levels and make sure they're not too depleted.

Inspect Boat Trailer

After you've launched your boat, it doesn't hurt to take a few extra minutes to give your boat trailer a once-over. It's just as susceptible to damage as any other type of vehicle component, and it needs to be in great shape to get your boat safely from point A to point B.

Yearly Boat Maintenance Tips

If you keep up with monthly and quarterly boat maintenance, only a few tasks have left that need to be handled once per year. Here are a few yearly Ontario boat maintenance tips to keep in mind.

Polish Gelcoat

Regular cleaning is essential, but once per year, it really pays off to apply a coat of wax over your gel coat to help keep it in pristine condition and give it the protection it needs from the effects of sunlight exposure, salt, grime and harmful bacteria. The gel coat can be very expensive to repair or replace properly so correct maintenance is important.

Clean and Maintain Canvases

Wash your boat canvas and covers annually to remove any signs of mildew growth and grime build-up, and reapply waterproofing sprays or protective sealants while at it.

Clean Potable Water Tank

This particular boat maintenance tip is sometimes forgotten, but it's an important step that could save you and your boat passengers from unpleasant health issues. Ensure your potable water tank is completely drained and cleaned correctly to kill off any organic growth, such as mildew or mould that could be brewing in there and refill it with fresh, clean water so you're ready for your next outing.

Change Oils and Filters

Regarding this boat maintenance tip, you may need to do it more frequently than once yearly, depending on how often you use your boat. Various filters, such as the oil, air and fuel filters, must be changed out annually or after the engine has been in operation for 100 hours, whichever comes first.

Maintain Waste Treatment System

In the monthly boat maintenance tips section, we mentioned above that your waste tank should be pumped monthly. Once per year, whether you have a storage tank system or a different type of waste disposal unit, such as an onboard sanitation system, it needs to be fully maintained and cleaned. Unless you've got a lot of experience with this type of work, it's usually best left to a professional who knows how to work safely and avoid contamination.

Annual Inspection

Throughout the above Ontario boat maintenance tips, we've covered a number of different components that need to be checked monthly, quarterly or annually. Giving the entire vessel a complete annual inspection is essential, paying special attention to safety check protocols. This is another task that can be completed by a professional service who knows exactly what to look for if you do not have the confidence to follow all the steps of a safety check yourself or if you have physical mobility issues that prevent you from completing a thorough inspection.

Having the Right Boat Insurance

While this isn't precisely an Ontario boat maintenance tip, it's essential to know about it so you can be protected against losing your boat or suffering a significant financial setback in the event of a disaster that destroys or damages your vessel. Boat insurance is not mandatory in the same sense that the government legally requires auto insurance. Still, it's a severe mistake to go without it. Not only could your boat suffer severe damage that requires costly repairs, but boating also exposes you to major liability risks that could result in legal action being brought against you in a court of law for causing third-party property damage or bodily injury.

There needs to be more than a one-size-fits-all solution for insurance coverage, which also applies to boat insurance. The types and limits of your insurance coverage needs will vary based on factors such as the type and size of boat you have, the bodies of water where you intend to use it, the types of systems you have on board, your experience levels with boating and much more. Most standard boat insurance packages will include coverage for property damage liability and coverage in case your own property (in this case, your boat) is damaged and you need insurance compensation to get repairs done or replace it with a vessel of similar value. Some types of boat insurance coverage you may need to consider include:

  • Emergency towing coverage
  • Salvage coverage
  • Uninsured watercraft coverage
  • Specialized coverage for after-market modifications
  • Boat trailer insurance
  • Personal effects coverage

When you contact the experienced brokers at Morison Insurance about boat insurance in Ontario, we'll start by consulting with you to get all the information we need about your particular circumstances and vessel; we can recommend the right combination of boat insurance coverage and limits to ensure you have the necessary protection against financial loss if something goes wrong.

Marine Surveys

If you have an older, larger vessel over a decade old and exceeds a length of about 20 feet, you will likely be required to complete a marine survey before getting your vessel covered by boat insurance. This involves a professional marine surveyor completing a boat maintenance checklist to determine its approximate value and record the safety and operational equipment on board. The marine surveyor may also make recommendations on repairs or additions that are needed to bring the vessel into compliance with local regulations, and those changes will need to be completed within a specific time frame before the boat can be insured.

Speak to Your Morison Insurance Broker About Boat Insurance

If you need insurance coverage for a new boat, or you currently have coverage but suspect its inadequate for your insurance needs, call 1-800-463-8074 to chat with the knowledgeable, licensed brokers at Morison Insurance and find out more about the right boat insurance coverage so you can rest easy knowing you have financial protection when you're out on your boating adventure.

This content is written by our Morison Insurance team. All information posted is merely for educational and informational purposes. It is not intended as a substitute for professional advice. Should you decide to act upon any information in this article, you do so at your own risk. While the information on this website has been verified to the best of our abilities, we cannot guarantee that there are no mistakes or errors.

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