Boat Use – Too Little or Too Much

Boats kept in their pens in Melbourne waterways

“I only use my boat once a year”

Recently we were on one of our client’s boats and there were some problems with the vessel that required urgent attention. I spent about an hour with the owner and he said on a number of occasions “But I only use my boat once a year”.

We have seen this on numerous occasions. This particular case was severe – as he literally only uses the vessel once a year. However, we have also come across many boat owners who only use their boat a little bit, maybe a few times in summer and then it spends the winter months idle in its pen.

What is wrong with that?

Well, what would happen to your car if you only used it once a year? When you hopped into it would you expect it to just fire up and start first go?

And what about the interior? Let’s say for arguments sake that the car was kept on the side of the road, fully exposed to the elements. What would potentially happen to the engine, body and interior?

And at least your car is not permanently in water, subject to the additional glare as the sun bounces off the water.

Boats Stored on Melbourne Waterways

When a boat is left in its pen over the winter months without any attention there are a number of things that can happen.

The possible problems:

  1. The engine can seize up due to lack of use
  2. The engine can become faulty – coughing and spluttering – due to lack of use
  3. The bilge can fill up with water due to a bilge pump failure, which in turn can cause an electrical short circuit
  4. She could spring a leak during rains, causing damage to flooring, carpets or furniture
  5. She could absorb moisture through various weather conditions causing mould to start growing in the fabrics of the covers, ceiling and or flooring
  6. Blackwater pump not operating and allowing water overflow
  7. Cable cancer – which is a deterioration of the electrical cabling and can lead to an electrical short circuit, or worse, a fire
  8. Seacock (tap fittings) seized and no longer able to be turned off
  9. Deterioration of the covers
  10. Deterioration of the external paint
  11. Seaweed build up on the hull and or propellers
  12. Rusting or corrosion 
  13. Build up of mussels either on the hull or in the exhaust of the vessel

Preventative Measures

One of the things we often say to our clients is “Preventative measures are cheaper than fixing it when it breaks”

The Solution

The solution to this problem is super easy, the only thing it requires is a little bit of time!

Boats should be started up once a month, all year round, and be inspected for any potential problems that might need addressing.

Fun Fact

The best time of year to have work done on your boat is in Winter. This is the time of year when Marine Contractors are searching for work and can generally complete jobs within reasonably short timeframes.

As soon as the AFL finals have happened in Melbourne, the dance card of Marine Contractors fill up. And if you require your boat to be lifted out of the water – this becomes very difficult as well, as the boatyards are booked out.

So, if you were checking your boat monthly during the winter months, you could potentially locate any problems and have them fixed in time for Spring.

If you are time-poor and needed someone to do this for you, then that can be easily organised!

Happy Boating
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