If I can give only one piece of advice to boat owners this is it:

Build a relationship with a marine mechanic.

Full disclaimer right up front, I am a marine mechanic.

Get to know him before you need him, before your boat breaks down. I'm not saying take him out to out to dinner or the pub. What I am saying is take your boat to him at least once a year. I can hear you saying it now: "But I do all my own maintenance", or "I have a buddy who does my maintenance". That's great, I highly encourage you as a boat owner to do your own maintenance, it is satisfying and saves you money, and helps build an understanding of your boat's mechanical systems.

But.

As a mechanic who works on boats every single day, we can see the warning signs of things that are about to go wrong, or know areas that should be inspected at a specific age of a boat, or hours. We see that slightly corroded connection to the starter, or bilge pump, or alternator. We know to look at the reed valves on your Optimax. We know when to replace the balancer on your 150 Yamaha before the gear disintegrates and blocks the oil pickup destroying your motor. Changing your own oil and filters will not prevent these things from going wrong.

 Chipped reeds on Mercury Optimax reed block. Replaced before serious engine damage occured because we knew to inspect them.

Even if you do all your own maintenance, taking your boat to a marine mechanic once a year for a one hour inspection is super cheap insurance. I can see all sorts of things in a one hour inspection, and if I get to do that one hour inspection every year I can get to know your boat, and you. I can get to know how you use the boat, I can monitor things like rudder stock wear, or engine mounts going bad.

If you don't do your own maintenance then asking for a one hour inspection on top of your regular servicing is still a small price to pay. Most shops keep their eyes open for things that might become a problem, but when they are super swamped and your boat is there for just an oil change, that is all you are going to get, so ask for the extra inspection when you book your oil change.

Yamaha 150 HP Balancer with gears still intact but getting tight.

Then, when the day comes that you need a mechanic, when your boat is broken down just before the long weekend, the mechanic will have some background on the history of the boat and what has been done to it so they will be able to diagnose and repair your boat a little bit faster.

And in many cases if you have been bringing your boat in once a year for an inspection, you are much more likely to get fit into the schedule sooner than if you are just another guy with a broken boat in the middle of summer. 

Many shops are so busy these days that they are not taking new customers. In that situation you will now have to hunt just to find a shop that is willing to look at your boat when it is broken. This is not the ideal time to be trying to find a mechanic you have confidence in.

Many marine repairs are very costly. If you have a relationship with your mechanic you can have confidence that he is giving you the best advice to suit your particular situation, and taking care of your boat the way you want it taken care of.

 

 

 

 

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