Boat Repairs: DIY Vs. Professional
Being a boat owner means investing money into repairs at some point. Hopefully, it comes later rather than sooner, but you have to know it’s coming. The question is, do you do the work yourself or hire a professional?
When my husband and I were first married, we received an older fiberglass boat as a gift. To say it was a money pit is a severe understatement. But we poured sweat and tears into it to make it look great and fixed the outboard to some degree. The problem? It was a fiberglass boat that was showing signs of wear and tear that we felt exceeded our knowledge of the subject matter. We ended up selling it as is and used the money for a newer boat because we didn’t want to, you know, sink. But we learned a ton during the project and we often apply that learning experience to our new boat.
What kind of projects should you take on yourself and which ones should you hire out? Use logic in knowing the difference by evaluating the job before you even start.
1. Can I do this?
If you feel like you can do it, that’s a good start.
2. Do I have the tools to do this?
Renting or buying new tools is going to be an expenditure that might make this project more expensive in the long run. But if you already own them or can cheaply rent them, you still have the opportunity to save money.
3. Do you have time to do this?
If you’ve answered yes to the first two, now ask yourself whether you even want to do the job or have the necessary time to do it correctly.
If you’ve answered no to any of these questions, pay a professional. But if you’re still feeling confident, then doing light repairs yourself could be a great way to spend the weekend.
Inboard Engine Work
Here’s a word of caution when it comes to repairing your inboard as a DIY project. These engines require special tools and a more extensive knowledge base than a standard outboard. If you are untrained, there’s a very good chance you could do more harm than good. These repairs won’t be cheap but, trust me, it will be way more expensive if you mess something up because you’re not familiar with the components.
Small fiberglass repairs are simple enough to do yourself. But it’s still tricky because doing it outdoors leaves your boat exposed to the elements and morning dew. But doing it indoors creates fumes that can last a very long time depending on the ventilation.
Fiberglass boats have a thick structural core of fiberglass strands infused with polyester resin. But the part visible to the eye is the gel coat, which is the thin layer of resin that gives the boat its glossy color. Thankfully, most light scratches are only in the gel coat and can be sanded out. When they penetrate the core, they need to be filled and this can be tricky if you don’t have the correct resources. A professional shop is built for this kind of repair and the associated fumes, but it’s not always cheap.
Whatever problems arise, you are equipped to handle them. Whether that’s making the repairs yourself or having the necessary fingers to dial a phone, you’ve got this covered and you’ll be back on the water in no time.
Article Written by KATIE BURKE