Boats need a lot of TLC to maintain their value and performance. It is subjected to stresses and strains quite different from a car (how often do you bang your car into a wall or jump on to the roof?) and does need pampering. There are routines that are best done daily (when cruising/running the engine), monthly and annually. Below is a general list, which is by no means exhaustive and certainly not specific to your boat/engine, that can be used as a guideline to help you become familiar with the quirks of your own pride and joy. Some of the items may best be done by a professional. It is for you to decide on your level of competence.
If the boat is new to you the frequency of these checks should be upgraded significantly – daily checks done thrice daily, monthly done daily etc until you become familiar with the foibles of your boat – in fact do all the checks before your first cruise.
Monthly Checks - Daily checks plus - ENGINE: Battery electrolyte levels, flexible hoses/pipes & wiring for rubbing/wear, fan belt worn/slack, exhaust leaks, diesel leaks from all pipework especially metal spill rails, engine mount nuts - if loose tighten the bottom nut upwards not the top nut downwards if the top nut is a Nyloc or if unsure get a professional in to check it out. Engine alignment to the shaft is critical and should not be tampered with unless you have expert knowledgeCABIN: Look for water seepage from: water pump/shower pump/hoses for sink/shower/bath waste/washing machine/central heating connections/pump-out toilet fixings and pump-out pipes, check the CABIN bilge for water - suck out if necessary and find out where it has come from.GAS: Check gas flames (especially fridge, water heater, boiler) are burning clean blue - if not call in a GAS SAFE registered gas fitter.INSPECT: Mooring ropes for chaffing, mooring pins/posts/rings for stability.Diesel drip-feed boilers (e.g. Kabola/Bubble) may need cleaning out, when in continuous use, every 6 - 8 weeks, can be more often with intermittent use. Diesel compact boilers (e.g. Eberspacher/Mikuni) need the glow plug cleaning regularly.Engine oil changes should be according to manufacturers instructions, oil filter changes at least every other oil change after using flushing additive.
Preparation for Winter - If the boat is not to be used in the winter, many owners 'winterize' the boat. This normally means emptying the domestic water system to avoid problems with freezing pipes and leaving cupboard and fridge doors open to allow air to circulate. Drain at least half of the water tank (so the water level is below the canal level) by running the pump and then close the tank isolating tap. With the water pump switched off, open all the taps and drain off the pipes by disconnecting the pipe from the pump and either draining into bowl or sucking out with a wet & dry vac (if using a vac open one tap at a time but do not suck through the pump itself). With the pump pipework disconnected, switch the pump on for a moment to empty the pump chamber.Got a gas instant water heater? Got a calorifier? Got a drinking water filter?- don't forget to drain those as well. Shower pumps can also be drained - but beware, the water will be smelly; remove hair from the pump and filter at the same time.If your boat water tank has an inspection hatch, this is a good time to have a look-see and a cleanout or re-paint. When everything is drained, and cleaned, leave the taps open and connect up the pipework again so as to avoid problems in the Spring when you fill up before you remember to connect the pipes!