Preventive Boat Maintenance for Anglers and Hunters

Preventive maintenance is something that anglers and hunters who boat should always be mindful of.

Certain tasks are best carried out before the boating season starts and others when the boat is being prepared for winter storage. In addition, routine maintenance carried out at regular intervals during the season will help avoid trouble and add to a safe and enjoyable boating season. Nothing can be more frustrating and ruin a day of fishing than a simple breakdown that could have been avoided by some proactive attention.

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To ensure that all required maintenance tasks are undertaken every boater should prepare and then follow a check list and schedule that will meet the requirements for each individual boat.

Here are a few examples of specific items that should be given attention. These tips are taken in most part from Canadian Power & Sail Squadrons new Boating Basics Handbook. (

The Hull

The hull should be checked regularly for damage and leaks. If the boat is being stored for the winter, the outside should be washed with fresh water and an environmentally friendly detergent to remove tar, oil and algae. The bilge should be inspected regularly to ensure there is no fire hazard from oil and grease. Any water should be removed.

*Remember to clean down your boat, motor(s), trailer, anchor and lines to avoid transferring invasive species as you move from one lake to another. Make sure your live wells and bait buckets are also cleaned out.

For Wooden Hulls

Clean and check for rot and damage, then repair, sand, re-caulk and paint. A planked boat that has been allowed to dry out should be put in the water, but not used until the wood has had time to swell. If this precaution is not taken the boat may leak very badly and sink.

For Fiberglass Hulls

Check for delamination (the separation of Fiberglass layers) and for osmosis (surface blisters caused by water absorbed through the surface into the Fiberglass).

For Steel Hulls

Check for rust and damage. Repair, if necessary, then sand and paint.

For Aluminum Hulls

Check carefully for the appearance of white powder patches which are a sign of deterioration. Any such patches should be sanded and painted.


The engine(s) should be carefully adjusted as recommended in the owner’s manual. Oil and fuel levels should be maintained. Change the engine oil at the recommended intervals. Outboard motors must have the correct gas/oil mixture. The lower unit should be drained and refilled with fresh oil prior to winter storage. If this is not done, water that may have seeped in during the summer can freeze and split the casing. Removing surplus grease and oil from the engine will reduce fire risk.


All nuts and bolts holding the rollers and the adjustable couplings should be checked for tightness.

Check that the safety chains are not worn or distorted and the lights are functioning properly. Tires should be inflated to the manufacturer’s recommended pressure. Inspect wheel bearings prior to winter storage and repack if they have been submerged in water.

Other Equipment

All equipment, including dock lines, anchor lines, safety equipment, lifejackets and PFDs should be cleaned, checked and replaced as necessary. Nuts, bolts, and hose clamps should be checked regularly for tightness. Where navigation lights are fitted, the wiring should be checked and bulbs replaced as necessary.

The battery should be kept charged, the liquid level checked and the terminals clean and tight.

Winter Storage

If a boat is stored under cover for the winter, it will keep cleaner and be less exposed to the weather. It should not be sealed up tight but should be well ventilated to prevent mildew and rot. Small boats that are stored outside should be turned upside down so they do not fill with snow or rain and should be raised off the ground on blocks to allow for drainage.

Here are a few Green Maintenance Tips

  • Keep your bilge clean and do not pump oily water overboard
  • Use bilge absorbents in place of detergents
  • Bring garbage home and do not litter
  • Use detergents sparingly and when you do use Eco rated products that contain no phosphates
  • Clean up all spills immediately and properly dispose of all cleaning materials
  • Use only paints approved for marine use and clean up all materials from sanding or scraping
  • Report pollution when you see it to a Government of Canada pollution prevention officer. The Transport Canada Safe Boating Guide contains a list of telephone numbers

Remember:  No matter the size or type of vessel you use for your fishing activities, A WELL MAINTAINED BOAT IS A SAFE BOAT. You can find more information on a variety of boating safety tips by visiting

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