The Most Common Watercraft Maintenance and Repair Issues In South Africa

The Most Common Watercraft Maintenance and Repair Issues In South Africa

Any South African boating enthusiast will be able to spin a tale about costly maintenance and repair work they have had to complete. And all the different types of water bodies come with their own challenges.

But what are the most common watercraft maintenance and repair issues in South Africa?

Engine Problems

The big daddy of problems must be engine problems. The reason is that the engine of any craft is a finely tuned, complex piece of machinery. If there are faults in the engine, fixing them is time-consuming and expensive. Often the cost of replacing an engine is the same as just buying a new craft.

The engine can have a broad range of problems, including starting and stalling issues, overheating, and reduced performance.

If you are using your craft in salt water, another issue you might encounter is corrosion. Make sure to rinse your engine with clean water on a regular basis to keep this from happening.

The only way to keep your engine in top condition is to regularly change the oil and filters and keep it well-tuned. Yearly maintenance is non-negotiable.

If you have an outboard motor, all of the above applies, and it should also be checked before each adventure on your watercraft.

Propeller Damage

Propellors are the piece of your craft that sticks out the furthest from the body the most. That makes them more likely to hit things like rocks, the sides and bottom of waterways, and in the worst case, marine life. They also simply wear over time.

The best thing you can do for your propellors is to keep a sharp eye on them. Inspect them for damage each time you take your craft onto the water, and don’t go out with damaged propellors. It’s vital you repair or replace any you find with damage before you sail.

Hull Damage

Your hull is your first layer of safety in a craft. Any breach can cause water damage or even make your craft sink, so it’s essential to keep the hull in good condition.

Hulls can be damaged in many of the same ways as propellors, but the difference is you won’t just stop moving forward; you can also start to move downward and start sinking, which is of course, a crisis.

The manner of fixing your hull will depend on what kind of material it is made from. Fibreglass hulls will need cracks and blisters fixed, while aluminum hulls may also become corroded. If these issues aren’t dealt with, the structural integrity of the whole craft may be in danger.

Again, if you’ve been in salt water, regular rinsing of the hull is recommended.

Electrical Issues

If you have a craft that uses a motor to hit the waves, you will need to keep the electrics in good condition. Problems you might encounter include malfunctioning lights, gauges, and batteries, as well as faulty wiring or damaged connections. You can buy a new battery suitable for watercraft from us.

Each time you take your craft out, you should inspect the battery, gauges and lights to ensure they’re working correctly, and if you find a fault, it should be fixed before the craft is used.

And we hate to sound like a record on repeat, but salty air and water will speed up any corrosion so if you’re sailing on the sea or even just near the coast, keep an eye open for signs of rust on the electrics.

Regular servicing is vital for the electrics to catch issues that might become a problem in the future.

Trailer Problems

If you’re transporting your watercraft on land, you’ll need a trailer. And the trailer will also require regular maintenance to keep it in top-notch condition. If something on the trailer breaks and the craft falls off it, you could be in for some hefty bills.

Trailers will be vulnerable to the usual issues associated with vehicles of all kinds, such as wear and tear, rust (again), and damage to tyres and axles. It’s best to cast an eye over your trailer before each use.

Fuel System Troubles

You should schedule maintenance on your fuel system at the same time as servicing your engine, likely once a year at least.

Some issues you might encounter in the fuel system include damage to the fuel tank, clogged lines, problems with the fuel pump and even water contamination in the tank.

One of the key things that will be done at each service is replacing fuel filters, general maintenance on the fuel system, and cleaning the tank. This will help prevent any problems from occurring in the future, so don’t skimp on your annual visit to the mechanic!

Cooling System Issues

This may sound strange considering that you’re in cold water, but all watercraft engines need a cooling system to stop them from overheating. The cooling system works by using a water pump to circulate cool water and/or coolant around the engine. The water can either come from whatever you are sailing in, or a small tank on the engine.

This is a system with a lot of moving parts that needs to be maintained to keep your craft running smoothly. Issues could include a malfunctioning water pump, clogged cooling passages, leaks, and other general wear and tear on materials.

If the cooling system is damaged or not functioning efficiently, you could cause damage to your engine, and as we mentioned first, that’s a very expensive fix.


Most craft will have a steering mechanism, and they can range from extremely technological to an oar. All of them will need to be checked regularly because failing to steer is steering towards trouble.

If you have a steering mechanism, it should be inspected for cable damage, rust, and issues with any hydraulics. Lubrication is vital here.

And finally, make sure your battery is working perfectly every time. If you need to have your battery checked or replaced make sure to contact us for the best marine battery.


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