Q. I have a 2003 Sea Ray Sundancer 420 and am moving from the New York City area to Florida soon. Do I need to do anything different in Florida in terms of boat maintenance? I am especially concerned about the warmer waters down there and the algae growth in fuel tanks I've heard so many bad things about.
North Haledon, New Jersey
A: While regular maintenance is critical in all climates, it's more important in the tropics where heat and humidity prevail. In addition to being diligent about maintenance issues in general, I'd suggest the following when you get to Florida:
Devote more attention to your engine's cooling system-overheating problems manifest more quickly and cause damage faster in warmer places Particularly, change your raw-water pump impeller more often-warmer, sandy seawater tends to weaken impellers faster than cold water. Also, replace all gaskets and/or seals on your sea strainers-leaks cause overheating in a hurry down south. Make sure all seacocks are working freely before you launch. And finally, replace your antifreeze if it's more than a season old.
More basically, make sure you've got marine-grade belts on alternators, seawater pumps, and other accessory drives, keep them tight, and replace them when they show signs of wear or glazing. The materials involved here do not endure as well in hot, humid weather.
As to the algae problem, I'd suggest keeping your fuel tanks full. While opinions vary on this, my take is that full tanks prevent condensation, the primary source of algae growth. Moreover, regularly use a fuel additive recommended by your engine's manufacturer. And if your boat doesn't have fuel/water separators, install and routinely check them.
PROFESSOR DIESEL is Larry Berlin, director of Mack Boring's Training Services division.
This article originally appeared in the November 2009 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.