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TLC For the Personal Watercraft

Expert tips for proper care & maintenance for your cabin's watercraft.

Expert tips for proper care & maintenance for your cabin's watercraft.

By Jeff Hemmel Sea-Doo-Spark-PWC That cabin PWC gets a lot of attention during the season, but most of that time is probably spent splashing across the waves, not on routine maintenance back at the dock. But if you want that craft to keep dishing out the fun, you need to do a little more in the days between that first splash of the season and fall winterization and storage. Here’s how to properly maintain your PWC in-season … and give it the TLC it deserves.

Keep it clean

Sure, something used in the water doesn’t seem like it gets dirty, but that scum around the waterline or the grunge accumulating in the engine compartment indicates otherwise. Give your craft the occasional cleaning with a little boat-specific soap (dish soap strips wax) and water. Plagued by water spots? Dry your craft with a soft towel after use. For problem areas, try a commercial product like Babe’s Spot Solver, or a homemade solution of one cup vinegar per gallon of water. To maintain your PWC’s color and shine long-term, cover it when not in use, or store it out of direct sunlight.

Look for problem signs.

As to the engine compartment, look before you touch. Black, sooty residue can be a sign of an exhaust leak. The presence of water may indicate a cooling leak or hull damage. Check hoses for cracks, clamps for tightness, and protect both metal surfaces and rubber hoses with a dose of silicone spray. Sponge out any bilge water after every ride. If possible, store the craft with the seat askew to promote ventilation and prevent condensation.

Don’t forget to flush.

Flushing your engine with freshwater is a must after every use in saltwater, but it should also be an occasional part of your routine on lakes and rivers. All water contains contaminants, and over time those contaminants may lead to corrosion or diminish your engine’s cooling capacity. Depending on how often you use your craft, give it the occasional flush with a garden hose.

Treat Your Fuel

Much of today’s fuel supply contains ethanol. That’s bad news for PWCs, as ethanol attracts water. Should your fuel supply absorb too much, it may “phase separate.” Water bonded with ethanol settles to the bottom of your tank, and your fuel’s octane rating dips below manufacturer’s recommended minimums. Regular use of a fuel stabilizer/conditioner combats the effects of ethanol, and in turn, protects your engine against damage. Read the directions to determine the correct amount for your tank’s capacity. Typically, that can be as little as 1 ounce per 10 gallons. Add it first, before you add the fuel, to ensure it mixes properly. Floridian Jeff Hemmel is a professional PWC, boating and watersports writer.