Nine Boating Items That Should Be Maintained Regularly

By Kevin Falvey.

Years ago, during an interview about durability while discussing engine componentry, a Cummins Marine engineer told me: “Everything has a cycle life.” That means stuff eventually wears out from repeated use. I’m relating the statement out of context, but the fact remains true.

Of course, there is a flip side: Use it or lose it.

Allow your doodad, gizmo, fastener or component to sit without use, especially in the unforgiving corrosiveness of the marine environment, and you might find it stuck, jammed or immovable. That said, keep an eye on the following nine items, and use the tips provided for keeping things loose.

Trailer Draw Bar

When it comes to trailers, there’s one part that can get stuck beyond even the ability of a mad ­mechanic with a torch to undo: the draw bar. Once a ­trailer draw bar becomes corroded in place inside the tow vehicle’s hitch ­receiver, ­fuhgeddaboudit—the two are mated for life. Prevention means removing the draw bar, as clunky as it is to stow, after each outing. Also, be sure to rinse it (and everything else) with fresh water. A light spray lube now and again on the draw bar or the inside of the receiver wouldn’t hurt either.

Seacock Levers

This one is important: If a ­seacock lever gets stuck in the open position, it can sink your boat. Make a habit of throwing seacock (and other valve) levers through their full range of motion on a regular basis. If your boat is kept in the water, you should be closing seacocks every time you leave the boat anyway. A proper seacock will be fitted with a Zerk fitting for injecting grease. Many can be disassembled for cleaning, lubrication, and even lapping the mated surfaces to restore smooth operation.