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How to NOT Enjoy Boat Ownership  
With These Habits, Don’t Expect Your Boat to Last Very Long

September 2015

If you bought a boat because you were tired of watching others sail away for weekend retreats while you couldn’t, or you had enough of hanging out at sailing clubs and being on other people’s boats, you did the right thing. Buying a boat requires a lot of financial planning and emotional consideration, so if you made your decision, you must have thought it through.

Now that you have your own boat, you can do all those things that you’ve always wanted to do—socialize, impress your friends, throw parties or sail away to the nearest shore. But if you think you can have constant fun on your boat while paying very little attention to maintenance, your boat is not going to live many years.

There is a common saying in the boating community, “Boats are holes in the water, into which you throw money.” Although we don’t know how true that is for most owners, the reality is that boats do require diligent care. If you follow some very basic rules of boat maintenance, your boat will give you many reasons to smile. However, if you ignore maintenance, your boat may very well become a hole in the water.

Boat ownership is about freedom. But neglecting the maintenance part of boat ownership can turn the experience into a nightmare. If a nightmare is what you really want, here are a few tips to get you there. Bear in mind, following these suggestions will ensure that your boat always remains with you—because no one will ever buy it, even if you desperately want to sell it.

Do it all yourself. If you’re an inexperienced owner and have no knowledge of the various electrical and mechanical systems on board, it is likely that maintenance issues will go unnoticed. You won’t even realize when minor problems turn into major failures. If your new boat is an upgrade that is clearly beyond what you can handle comfortably by yourself, don’t bother hiring an experienced captain and crew.

Never hire a surveyor. If you hire a surveyor to inspect your vessel, he is going to reveal many structural, mechanical, electrical and cosmetic defects that your vessel will have developed as a result of your do-it-yourself approach. That may prompt you to contact your warranty manager to ensure the issues get resolved. Obviously, you can avoid that bothersome situation by refusing to hire a marine surveyor.

Never get a diesel survey. The diesel engines on your boat are complex, and inspecting the engines requires a full day. Clearly, that’s a day wasted! Moreover, if you get an engine survey, many issues may come to light. The engines may have low oil pressure or there may be excessive exhaust smoke, noise and vibration. The heat exchanger and oil cooler could have defects, or there might be problems with the fuel filters or throttle mechanism. Those are just a few of the problems an engine inspection could bring to your notice. Best to simply avoid it.

Ignore basic maintenance. Cleaning and hosing keeps bacterial growth and salt water corrosion under control, so that’s surely something you’ll want to avoid. If you have stainless steel railings, don’t ever clean them—with time, salt and dirt will take the shine off them. Basic cleaning and polishing alone can quickly restore the shine, so you must leave all steel components completely unattended. Uncoiled and wet anchor ropes are an ideal location for mold and bacteria to thrive, so leave them as they are until they begin to produce a foul smell—that proves they are indeed moldy.

Strictly avoid winterizing. If you are not going to use your boat off-season, just dock it for the winter. As BoatUS suggests, winterizing will require you to follow some basic steps, which you don’t want to consider. Don’t do any general cleanups and make sure to follow the advice mentioned in the point above. No hosing, and certainly no shrink wrapping. Leave the galley, head, bilges, mattresses, lifejackets, etc. uncleaned. And don’t inspect the batteries or machinery—those won’t be turned back on until the next season anyway.

If you follow the tips above, your boat won’t quite be the same after its first season. When you finally do get it surveyed—because you will have to in order to find out why the engine won’t start—you will likely hear some really bad news. From then on, you probably won’t be able to sell your boat for a good price, which means that the boat will always remain with you, even though you won’t quite enjoy its ownership.

In all seriousness, no owner would ever want to face this situation. It really doesn’t take much to maintain your boat. You just have to be a little wise. Explore VesselWise to find out how easy boat ownership can really be.

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