Here’s What You Should Know About Restoring a Boat

Who doesn’t love spending a lazy day basking in the sun, out on the water? For many, the dream of owning their very own boat to do just that any time they desire feels like it’ll always just be that — a dream. But buying a boat to call your own might be easier to do than you may initially think. 

Like purchasing a used vehicle, finding the right used boat and restoring it to its full potential is a cost-effective and hands-on way to make your boating dreams come true. And the restoration process doesn’t need to be intimidating — especially with this handy guide we’ve put together for you! 

Here’s a checklist for restoring a boat, returning it to its former glory and getting back out there on the water once again. 

maintenance crew working on boat

Start With an Inventory Check

There’s a good chance that you had a condition and value survey carried out when you initially purchased the boat, but if you’ve owned it for a while and are just now finally getting around to the restoration process, investing in an official survey isn’t a bad idea. This will give you a starting point for understanding the damage you’ll be addressing during the restoration process and help you build a plan of action.

You’ll also need to take inventory of the tools and parts you currently have to conduct the work yourself, versus what you’ll need to get help with from a boat mechanic. 

Time to Clean

It’s always best to start from scratch — take time to remove all water, debris, and other dirt and residue from the boat’s surface and systems. 

As you’re carefully cleaning the vessel from stem to stern, keep an eye on all the problem areas you’re going to need to address and how severe the damage is for each. Prioritize the issues according to whether they are cosmetic or more serious on both the interior and exterior surfaces. 

Be sure to carefully clean and remove any old fuel from the fuel tank, as well as the old oil from the engine and gear case. Check other systems on the boat to be sure they’re also clean and ready. 

Remove Any Old Elements

It’s much easier to start working on a boat that’s been cleaned and stripped down like a blank canvas, so remove any old belts and hoses that aren’t useful anymore and replace them with new ones. 

Make a list of all the broken items and parts that you’ll need to repair and replace. It’s important to know that some areas of the boat are only going to be readily accessible during the restoration process, so you need to be methodical in installing and fixing certain hidden elements at the beginning of the process rather than remembering them at the end!

Inspect and Repair the Hull

Depending on what material your hull is constructed with, your repair process will look a little different. 

Fiberglass: You can repair small areas of damage yourself, but extensive damage will need to be handled by a professional to ensure the gel coat that protects the surface is doing its job. If the surface looks sound, you can restore the color and look of the fiberglass using a jetwash and other similar materials. 

Wooden: Rotten or dried-out wood is indicative that the protective coating has been damaged. Repairing a wooden hull does require specialized experience to ensure the woodworking is sound and resealed properly — and you’d be better off working with an expert to ensure it’s done right the first time around!

If a fitting penetrates the hull, you could find yourself on a sinking ship before you realize what’s happening, so it’s crucial that you check and repair the hull carefully. All through-hull fittings require a specialized sealant to properly adhere to the hull — so don’t cheap out in this area or else you’ll regret it when you’re upstream without a paddle to row!

Address all Engine & Systems Needs

Hopefully, you were able to talk at length about the boat’s engine with the previous owner of the boat so you’re fully aware of what needs to be done to get things back in working order. You’ll want to make sure the motor is still in production so you don’t need to go digging through salvage yards to find spare parts! 

Unless you have a background in working on boat engines, this is another area you’ll want to get some expert help with. Find a mechanic who can give your engine a look and diagnose its issues right away — and help you find a solution to get it up and running again!

Another area to carefully inspect is the seacocks. Seacocks are essential for letting water in to cool the engine and to let water out for cockpit drainage. In both instances, it’s imperative that these devices are functioning correctly — in either case of failing to let water in or out, you’re at risk of sinking!

Test the Boat on Both Land and Water

Before you pat yourself on the back and invite your entire family to climb aboard your labor of love for an adventure, you’ll want to test every part of the vessel both on land and on the water to make sure things are functioning as they should. 

Once you’re confident that all of your hard work has officially paid off, don’t forget to write down a maintenance plan for future preventative measures to keep the boat in the best shape possible, all year long. 

→ Morningstar Marinas Pro Tip: Don’t leave your boat out in the cold! Here’s everything you need to know to properly prepare your boat for the off-season. 

Morningstar Marinas Team is Here to Answer All Your Questions

At Morningstar Marinas, we pride ourselves on the community of boaters we’ve created across the Southeast’s top boating destinations. Our facilities and services paired with our friendly and knowledgeable team members will help you quickly and efficiently get out there on the water, so you can start having fun! Morningstar Marinas is more than just a place to store and repair your boat — we’re here to offer you an unforgettable boating experience, every time.