The Top 8 Offseason Boat Projects
Offseason boat projects can be just the cure for the northern winter blues. The phrase “Stupid Winter. I Miss My Boat” that adorns awesome sweatshirts from Salty Crab Co. out of St. George, Utah, pretty much sums it up. So, we decided to reach out to a number of our customers up north to see how they pass the time during the long winter months. We found out that many dive headlong into projects that are tough to find or make time to do when they want to be outdoors enjoying themselves.
Of course, many of these offseason boat projects make the time they have on their boat a lot more enjoyable, reduce the worry of mechanical problems and increase their boat’s longevity.
So, without further delay, the following are the top eight offseason boat projects for northern boaters.
#1 – Repair, Rebuild or Replace
Ok, this is a big catch-all category because we received several different responses to very worthy projects in this category.
Replace Old Hoses and Hose Clamps
Hoses and hose clamps are not the most glamorous parts of boating, and you may not even think much about them until…one fails. A few guys mentioned that they spent a couple of hours thoroughly inspecting their hoses and related clamps. Of course, any hoses that are cracked, kinked, punctured, or frayed should be replaced. Ideas of areas to check to include: fuel supply and return lines, freshwater systems, heads and holding tanks, drains and overboard discharges, raw-water supply lines for generators and engines, washdown pumps, and hydraulic steering system hoses. While checking your hoses, check your hose clamps to ensure they are intact and not rusted. Missing, rusted, or otherwise compromised hose clamps need to be replaced.
Replace Boat Hatch Gaskets
This is somewhat self-explanatory for boaters who have hatches that let in light, air, or access to small, tucked away areas of your boat. Over time, these gaskets become dry, loose, cracked, etc., and leak. They occasionally need to be replaced.
Repair or Replace Broken Navigation Lights
Avoid accidents and U.S. Coast Guard citations by ensuring that your navigation lights are all working. The most common failure is simply a burnt-out bulb. However, sometimes lenses become cracked or clouded from the salt and sun. Or, lenses can sometimes meet an untimely demise collide with a dock or piling. Yet another problem point can be the bulb base (where the wire connects and the light bulb snaps or screws in). The bulb base can become corroded and stop working overtime. If you can effectively replace the failed component, that’s great. Otherwise, you will need to replace the navigation light itself.
Rebuild Your Small Outboard’s Carburetor
Unless you very faithfully use fuel additives, thanks to the ethanol in gasoline, you will need to rebuild your carburetor from time to time. We wrote an article about this a while ago that might be an exciting resource – “Ethanol Gasoline – Why It Is a Problem.”
Repair Small Gel Coat Scratches and Chips
More significant gel coat repairs are more involved, but a clever product from Evercoat makes repairing minor scratches or chips a breeze. Gel Coat Scratch Patch makes easy, permanent, color-matched repairs on hairline cracks, minor scratches, and chips in gel coat without sanding or using a catalyst. Color mistakes can be removed with mineral spirits.
#2 – Instrumentation Upgrade
If your gauges are more than ten years old, you might want to consider replacing them as one of this year’s offseason boat projects. If you replace the gauges yourself, here are a few quick tips. First, take a picture of the dash before you begin the work to make sure you know the position of each gauge. Secondly, as you remove each wire, attach a piece of masking tape and mark each wire with a marker to make reinstalling the gauges a lot easier.
#3 – Bilge Makeover
Generally, thorough scrubbing and rinse are enough, but a more comprehensive makeover is sometimes in order. If a more extensive makeover is needed, you will need to clean and remove any bilge pumps or pickups, wiring, hoses, etc., before sanding and prepping for the appropriate bilge paint. If you do not have a sufficiently heated work area, you may have to wait until warmer weather to apply the paint. Once you’re done, assess whether your old bilge pump is worth reinstalling. If your bilge pump is old, potentially corroded, etc., now is an excellent time to replace it.
Let us get back to cleaning the bilge for just one moment. Although this project is a pain and can be a bit smelly, several biodegradable bilge cleaners are on the market to make the job a lot easier.
#4 – Prop Tune-Up or Replacement
Props can quickly become out of balance or collect minor dings in them. This wear and tear will most definitely impact your ride. Most boaters will need to rely on their local marine mechanic for a prop tune-up/repair. However, upgrading your prop is an excellent consideration if you are looking for a performance upgrade, and if you’re handy, this is a relatively straightforward DIY project.
#5 – Check Your Battery(s) and Remove Corrosion
Have your batteries tested to ensure they can still hold a solid charge? Now is the time if you discover that you need a new battery. Also, removing corrosion on the battery terminals and products like Yamashield Rust & Corrosion Protectant and Mercury’s Quicksilver Corrosion Guard is vital to help prevent corrosion in the future.
#6 – Marine Audio Upgrade
Winter is the perfect time to upgrade your boat’s audio system. Add new amps, subwoofers, in-boat speakers, and tower speakers. Of course, make sure you install marine audio equipment as these products are designed to withstand the elements.
#7 – Light It Up
Your navigation and safety lighting is a must. Marine lights can be added to anything – speakers, towers, around the cabin, underwater – you name it. But, once that is taken care of, maybe consider a slight flare.
#8 – Upholstery & Carpet
Last but not least, maybe you need to repair some more minor tears or perhaps some of your interior needs to be replaced. Also, what a great time to thoroughly clean and protect your seating and overall interior. The winter months are also a perfect time to clean or replace your carpeting – maybe even consider upgrading your carpet to new non-skid flooring.
We know that most of you in colder climates long for the summer. But, hopefully, some of these project ideas will help keep you busy and be even more prepared to enjoy your boat as soon as possible.