Use Your Yard Time Wisely – Top Tips for Repairs & Preventative Maintenance

Hauling a boat out of the water and storing it in a safe yard is a great way to protect the vessel against potential storm damage. This idle time is also perfect for repairs and preventative maintenance. To do this most effectively, consider three points: First, plan for repairs by making a list ahead of time of the work needed. Secondly, follow suggestions from boat yard professionals when it comes to top maintenance areas to add to this list. Third, expect and be ready for the unexpected.

Plan Ahead
“Try to identify your work items as early as possible and keep in communication with the yard, so that they can plan for the boat’s arrival and get the work done in a timely manner,” recommends Tracy Campbell, director of sales and marketing at the River Forest Yacht Centers in Stuart, Florida.

To pinpoint what needs attention, there’s nothing like relying on good record-keeping, says Kasey Collins, manager at Cable Marine, Ltd., in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. “Whether you operate your own boat or have a full-time captain, it’s really helpful to keep good records. Past invoices or maintenance logs can serve as a head start for troubleshooting recurring issues. In addition, it’s wise to keep a running list of items that require attention. For example, ‘port side vibration from 800-950 RPM’ or ‘water under salon carpet whether or not it rains’. The running list is also very helpful to ascertain the full scope of work needed.”

River Forest
River Forest

Five Top Maintenance Tips
1. Bottom Paint. “Inspect bottom paint for signs of wear and tear,” suggests Dominick LaCombe, Jr, general manager of American Custom Yachts (ACY) in Stuart, Florida. “Typically, bottom paint needs to be reapplied annually.”

“Proper anti-fouling paint specific to your cruising areas will help keep growth under control and help with the fuel bill,” adds Cable Marine’s Collins.

While the boat is hauled out, “It’s also much easier to perform cosmetic repairs and maintenance on the hull,” says River Forest Yacht Center’s Campbell.

2. Through-Hulls. “Inspect your through-hulls or any other areas that have the potential for leaking. Older plastic through-hulls can deteriorate over time and should be replaced with bronze or stainless steel. Do the same for your windows. Caulking or sealant can deteriorate in the sun and a leak can lead to very expensive interior repairs,” advises ACY’s LaCombe.

3. Running Gear. “Inspect the running gear. Checking the props, shafts and cutlass bearings are regular maintenance items and appropriate measures should be taken to prevent failure,” says River Forest Yacht Center’s Campbell.

4. Engine Servicing. “Engine, gear and generator maintenance is important. The oils, oil filters, primary and secondary fuel filters, heat exchangers, after coolers, fuel and gear coolers, zincs, as well as any other manufacturer interval service needs to be done,” says Cable Marine’s Collins.

He adds, “Don’t push the life on zincs. Some zincs will lose much of their sacrificial qualities before they’re eaten entirely away. Be sure to check those mounted with through bolts for signs of leaking.”

5. Safety Equipment. “Inspect and certify fire systems and associated safety warning systems such as smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, flares and life raft,” says River Forest Yacht Center’s Campbell.

These five areas apply to both sail and power, large and small vessels, according to ACY’s LaCombe. ‘However, the running gear on a sailboat is typically going to have less wear and tear on it than a power boat.”

Be Ready for the Unexpected
Plan for weather delays, advises Jamie Pollon, general manager of the Caicos Marina & Shipyard, in Providenciales, Turks & Caicos Islands. “A day of rain can halt work from being accomplished. Also, plan for unforeseen work. With boats, there’s always more than meets the eye.”

American Custom Yachts
American Custom Yachts
Carol_Bareuther
Carol M. Bareuther, RD, is a St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands based marine writer and registered dietitian.