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If you’re looking for a pedal boat to keep at your second cabin or aboard your yacht then we’re are in different boats. My first pedal boat was a significant expense and one that I wanted to care for and keep for years. To a large extent, because I couldn’t afford to replace it at the drop of a hat.
Performing basic maintenance tasks on your pedal boat ensure that you’ll have a decade or more of reliable functioning before facing any major issues. It will also keep you out on the lake instead of shopping for pedal boat parts and performing more intensive repairs. After all, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
The most important maintenance tasks you can perform on your pedal boat are to keep it clean, drain it after use, and store it properly. Preventative maintenance will mean that you can avoid more expensive and time-consuming tasks such as part replacement.
None of these issues are complex but a lack of understanding leads many people to unintentionally damage or ruin their pedal boat. Knowing what maintenance your boat needs will save you both time and money in the long run.
5 Most Important Steps To Maintaining A Pedal Boat
When it comes to keeping your pedal boat pristine, preventative maintenance is the name of the game. These simple machines don’t have many moving parts that need attention so taking care of a few things to prevent future problems is your best bet.
1. Clean Your Boat Regularly
Your pedal boat isn’t a yacht so there’s no need to go overboard when it comes to keeping clean. It is, however, a crucial step if you want to keep things functional and looking good.
If I’ve had my boat out on the water I typically find it sufficient to spray it off with the hose. You’re generally just trying to remove any deposits and leftover hitchhikers from the pond.
If your pedal boat has been in salt water you’ll need to clean it more significantly. Saltwater is particularly hard on the metal components and can cause corrosion quickly if not cleaned off.
You can use a pressure washer on your pedal boat but I will often just drive through a manual car wash and spray it off with warm water (and the scrub brush if needed).
2. Drain Your Pedal Boat After Use
One of the most important things, you can do to keep your pedal boat in good condition is to drain it properly after it’s been on the water or after you wash it.
If you don’t drain your boat properly you run the risk of mold/mildew growing on the inside of your boat. Pedal boats are really just a top and bottom stapled together and sealed with some goo. Water-worthy but not completely water-tight.
If the foam inside gets saturated with water it will start to mold and your boat will sit lower in the water.
To prevent this, simply pop out the drain plug once you get your boat home and stand it on its end for a day.
One thing to be aware of is that you don’t want to leave your boat in a super hot location while it’s standing on its end. When the hull heats up it softens and can deform. If this does happen, sitting it flat in the sun will usually return it to its original shape. It’s easier to just keep it from happening in the first place.
3. Store Your Pedal Boat Properly
Once your boat is drained, storing it properly will prevent it from getting dents or deforming which can weaken the polyethylene structure.
The best way to store your boat is flat and fully supported. While it may be advantageous to store your boat a bit off the ground, don’t be tempted to set it on 2×4’s, saw-horses, etc. The wood will dent the hull.
If you do want to keep your boat off the ground, pallets are a great option for supporting the bottom of the boat.
If your boat is well supported you can also hang your boat from the ceiling to save space and make loading/transporting your pedal boat easier.
Whatever you do, do not store your boat in the water. I have literally seen pedal boats sitting under a foot of water and still tied off to the dock because they spent too long in the water.
4. Cover Your Pedal Boat When Possible
If you can’t store your boat inside, be sure to keep it covered!
Even though pedal boat companies like Sun Dolphin make their boats with UV-resistant materials you’ll want to keep them from sitting in the sun for long periods of time (meaning years).
If your defacto storage location for your pedal boat is in your yard it will eventually fall victim to UV rays and become brittle.
I don’t have an indoor storage location for my pedal boat (I wish…) so my boat sits outside on a pallet with a cover and the whole thing is under a tarp. Overkill? Probably but it does the job!
5. Patch or Repair Your Boat Quickly
When it comes to fixing a pedal boat, my mantra has always been, “done is good enough.”
Lots of pedal boats end up sitting for years with a simple fix. I see these boats pop up all the time on craigslist because they had a small issue and the owner never got around to fixing it…for years.
So whether you need to replace the pedal mechanism or patch a hole, just make it happen.
Patching a pedal boat is typically a simple task of just getting a patch kit and spreading it on. Don’t worry about making it beautiful. Your pedal boat isn’t a yacht.
Can You Do All The Pedal Boat Maintenance Yourself?
Unlike a powerboat, pedal boat maintenance is relatively straightforward and simple.
You don’t need a shop or technician to get things done. Just take good care of your boat and it will return the favor.
Do I Need To Grease Or Lubricate My Pedal Boat?
In general, pedal boat manufacturers have designed their boats so that they do not need regular lubrication. For example, Sun Dolphin uses commercial-grade oil-impregnated bronze bushings that need minimal care.
For specific lubrication intervals or instructions, you should check your owner’s manual or contact the manufacturer.
Pedal boat maintenance (for the non-commercial owner) is simple and shouldn’t take any time whatsoever. Instead of a list of things that need to be done, maintaining your pedal boat is simply a matter of putting into action the best practices of things you’ll be doing anyway.
See you on the water!