Yacht Maintenance Checklist: How To Prepare Your Sailing Yacht For The Season Ahead

The 2020 sailing season is drawing nearer, and with that brings excitement to get out on the yacht, whether you’ll be exploring far-flung corners of the earth or enjoying weekend cruising in the Med with your family. But you may also have a slight sense of dread, especially if you’re not yet comfortable with the yacht maintenance required for your sailboat. Luckily we’re here to help, providing information on everything from choosing the right yard to the services you’ll need. Read on to learn more.

How to choose the right yacht maintenance yard

Your biggest considerations for a shipyard should be reputation and price. You might also consider looking to the brand who built your luxury yacht, as they will have specialist expertise and knowledge of their own yachts.

  • Ask your fellow yacht owners to recommend the shipyards they use for their servicing, if not in person then on a sailing yacht forum, as they really do vary in quality. There are industry horror stories about shipyards who put the price up dramatically from their initial haul-out quote, holding the owner to ransom by refusing to put the yacht back in the water until they have been paid the inflated costs. You can avoid this by going with yards that are known to be trusted.
  • This doesn’t mean you have to pay over the odds for your sailboat maintenance. Be sure to get a few quotes to gauge the average and trust your gut. If it feels too cheap, or too expensive, you’re probably right. Remember that although you may save some money with a lower cost service yard initially, this cheaper price may signal that they are not equipped to complete the work to a high standard. This could mean paying more to have the work re-done in the near future.

Visit the facilities

Once you think you have made a decision, your next step is to visit the facilities yourself, especially if you’re having a significant amount of work done. If you do not feel confident doing this yourself, or do not have the time, you may be able to enlist a Project Manager to help.

Consider a Project Manager

If required (and where possible), it is a good idea to hire a Project Manager from the shipyard who initially built your boat, allowing them to scope out whether they think your chosen yard has the capability to service your yacht. Luxury yacht builders like Oyster Yachts offer to oversee your luxury yacht services with an objective and expert eye, making the yacht repair process super easy.

What to ask your prospective service yard

If you do choose to lead your yacht service project yourself, there are a few things you need to confirm with your potential yard:

  • Check they have liability insurance. Most people assume that all shipyards have it, but we always recommend asking to see their liability insurance certificate, just in case.
  • Make sure you understand the full price of any yacht maintenance works. This includes haul-out costs – what it costs to lift boat out of the water, the cost of keeping the boat out per day including the cost of the electricity and water, and the cost of the services themselves. You may find hidden costs later on if you don’t ask about everything upfront!
  • Ask how long it will take. Depending on its size and condition, the average preseason haul-out takes around two weeks for a sailing yacht, so if timings are dramatically under or over you may want to ask why.
  • Ask who will be working on your project. If it is apprentices, check that they will be watched over by someone with more hands-on experience and expertise.

Must-do services for your annual haul-out

What you need to do to prepare your sailboat for the season varies from yacht to yacht, but here are the typical sailboat maintenance services you may need:

  • Sails balloted
  • A visual rig check
  • A rig survey, if your yacht is in commercial use
  • Engines and generators serviced
  • All systems checked over
  • Antifouling
  • Repainting
  • Polishing

Do yacht maintenance needs change depending on your sailing?

No matter where you’re heading on your sailing yacht and for how long, you should always stay on top of your sailboat maintenance checks. However, remember that if you are sailing to a remote location, it’s wise not to set off with elaborate modcons onboard that will require specialist knowledge, as you will likely not be able to find anywhere to repair them should they break on your adventure. For a more intense period of sailing, it is always best to assume that everything will break at some point and plan ahead for this, whereas for relaxed jaunts around yachting hubs you can usually get away with less contingency.

Whatever happens though, stopping for sailboat maintenance when cruising is always a disruption to your travels, and the way to protect yourself from this as much as possible is with a high-quality haul-out service before you set out. We wish you a safe and prosperous season!

Top tips for staying shipshape during the sailing season

  • Keep on top of your weekly and monthly checks. People who do are less likely to encounter big, unexpected issues later down the line. Remember the old adage: ‘Look after your boat and she’ll look after you.’
  • Don’t forget about the cooling circuits on the engines and generators. These are easily ignored but can cause your engine to overheat if they are not serviced, especially in the Med where the water is warm and boats are often in harbour for a long period of time.
  • The seacocks and the shaft seal on the engine are vital to stop water coming in – don’t neglect them.

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