Boating is a popular hobby in the southeastern states of Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina. People head out on the water to enjoy cruising, watersports, fishing, and more. Today, outboard engines are becoming most prevalent compared to inboards or inboard/outboards. Rather than the outboard engine being exposed to the element,s a device covers them called a cowling. Here is what you need to know about boat cowlings. 

What Is A Cowling On A Boat

A cowling on a boat covers the uppermost portion of the outboard motor. The covering sits atop the engine and is removable. 

Without the cowling, the engine affixed to the back of the boat would become inundated with water from the elements in addition to heavy seas. Cowlings serve a critical purpose but must also be easily removed.

Boaters remove cowlings to perform engine maintenance. Whether you are on the water, loaded on the trailer, or at a dry marina rack, the cowling is removable. 

Depending on the size of the vessel, watercraft are fitted with one or multiple outboard engines. The cowling of each motor requires removal to become serviced. 

A boat cowling is light in weight in clips in place. Thankfully the covering is constructed of lightweight materials, making them easy to remove and reinstall, especially when rocking about in waves. 

Cowlings are labeled with the brand of the engine. The most popular outboard motor brands include Mercury, Yamaha, Suzuki, Honda, and more. Find a Suzuki service center near you. 

It is not uncommon for boat owners to never pull the cowling free. Those who pay for marine outboard servicing are unlikely to remove the top despite being aware of a mechanical issue. Instead, the owner delivers the boat to the service center compared to gazing in for a closer inspection. 

However, when removing a cowling, use caution as it becomes easily scratched when setting in a location off to the side. 

What Are Boat Cowlings Made Of

The construction materials are dependent on the outboard motor manufacturer. What is essential is producing a lightweight covering. Unclipping cowlings and pulling them free presents a challenge as they are bulky in size. 

Boat cowlings are made from materials including polyester fabrics, nylon-reinforced by fiberglass, or aluminum alloys. 

A boat cowling must combine two attributes, including remaining light in weight and durable. Specialized materials are required to accomplish this goal. 

Can You Wax Outboard Cowlings

Yes, you can and should wax outboard motor cowlings. Cowlings are susceptible to extreme conditions between sun exposure, the barrage of salt or freshwater while in operation, scratches from removal, and rain. 

Applying a layer of wax assist in preventing damage from everyday use, UV exposure, in addition to removal causing scratches. We have pulled cowling numerous times and have accidentally kicked it or dropped tools on it consistently. While wax won’t prevent all scratches, it will help. Move the cowling out of the way.

We recommend Collinite 925 Fiberglass boat wax. We have used Collinite 925 aboard an abundance of vessels and find it highly durable. The product is easy to apply and remove. 

When applying wax to a boat cowling, it is essential to use a soft cloth. Dab a small amount of wax onto the fabric and spread it across the entire cowling. Avoid pushing hard, particularly on the stickers affixed to the engine cover. You must allow the cowling to dry after applying wax.

Remove the wax once it has turned from an oily sheen to a white powdery coating. Grab a new soft fabric cloth for the removal process. Remove the white layer by gently rubbing with a soft cloth. 

What is interesting about a freshly waxed cowling is the difference in touch. A freshly waxed cowling is slippery as compared to gripping your fingertips. Wax allows the water to bead and roll off, removing dirt in the process. 

How Much Does A Boat Cowling Replacement Cost

Unfortunately, cowlings that have been unintentionally mishandled require replacing due to cracking from falling during the removal process or being dumped into the sea. Yes, boaters have dropped cowlings into the water when inspecting the engine offshore. 

Do your best to avoid damaging the cowling because they are not cheap to repair or replace. 

Repairing Boat Cowlings Cost

The ability to repair a cowling is highly dependent on the severity of the damage. When repairable, expect to pay between $300 and $600. The repairs include fixing dings, painting, and applying new stickers. 

Replacing Boat Cowlings Cost

When the cowling is severely cracked or crushed, replacement is required. New cowlings cost between $400 and $2,000. The cost varies based on the size of the engine cover. 

Now You Know About Boat Cowlings

When it comes to boats fitted with outboard motors, cowlings play a critical role in protecting the internal mechanics. Handle the cowling gently and move out of the way when removed for repairs to avoid damage. Wax the covering every six months to prevent UV damage and scratches. Lastly, purchase a cowling cover and apply it when not used to extend its life further. Cowling covers are a wise investment.