Last Updated on August 26, 2019
After sharing everything you need to know before buying a boat to sail around the world, it is time to look at the most common issues that can come up when you’re out on the water. Owning a boat offers you the ultimate freedom to just hoist the anchor any time and set the sails, but you will inevitably have to deal with common problems all boaters face from time to time.
Here are the most common issues and how to fix them:
Another thing that is simply unavoidable on a boat is rust. Your boat is out in the open for most of the year, and not only that: your boat is in the water – and moisture is the main cause for rust. And saltwater is even worse! Corrosion on the boat’s metal components, especially the critical ones, such as engines, mast butt plates, dinghy davits, pulpits, keel bolts and bow rollers) is something that has to be monitored all the time. Even though most metals used in boatbuilding are typically corrosion resistant, they can still rust, even stainless steel!
What helps is applying wax-based or corrosion-eliminating lubricants such as Boeshield T-9, which protect all metal surfaces of the boat, covering them with a thick film gives corrosion-prone materials an extra layer of protection. Boeshield T-9 for example was developed by Boeing and is designed to protect metals from rust.
When storing the boat for a longer time, it is absolutely essential to ensure the boat is completely, 100% dry. The storage facility should also be 100% moist-free – when you store it in a tropical location, investing in a dehumidifier might be a good idea. A boat cover brings additional protection.
Bilge Pump Issues
The bilge pump is a device that pumps bilge water – the kind of water from rain, rough seas or leakage that collects in the lowest part of the boat. This kind of water getting into your boat is totally normal, but that’s why the bilge pump is such an essential part of your boat equipment, and a part that shouldn’t break. The best way to avoid issues with your bilge pump is by investing in a more expensive model – remember that the bilge pump is the part in your boat that keeps it from sinking, which can happen if too much water gets in. Make sure to buy a bilge pump with a float switch which activates the pump automatically when the water in the bilge compartment reaches a certain level, and store the pump well above the water levels, so that there won’t be any issues due to corrosion by sea water.
Before setting off on a long trip, check the battery (invest in a larger battery in the first place) and the wiring of the pump (make sure the pump is wired correctly and is equipped with circuit protection!), and make sure it is well maintained at all times. General maintenance includes cleaning out the strainers (built into the base of the pump), waterproofing the connectors regularly, and opening up the pump body to check for damage and debris. As for the wiring, you could also consider installing a dedicated breaker just for the bilge pump.
Propeller problems are the third most common issue boat owners have to deal with. You might find that they are bent or dinged, loose or don’t fit properly. It is necessary to always inspect your propeller before putting the boat in the water, and also while it is in the water – check it for bent blades, nicks, and rolled tips, for mud, aquatic plants, or animals. Cavitation is something that happens due to corrosion and can be avoided by using stainless steel. In case of losing a propeller, which is not unheard of, it is advisable to have a second propeller on the boat – otherwise you have to be towed!
Boat US Magazine has a great article on how to fix propeller problems.