Select Page

Maintenance involves keeping something in good condition, as close to its manufactured state as possible. The maintenance of a boat involves things like cleaning, varnishing, painting, polishing, antifouling, servicing the engine, servicing the seacocks, and maintaining the gas and plumbing systems. It all amounts to a fairly considerable amount of work that can’t be ignored if you are to keep your boat in a safe and good condition.

Many boat maintenance jobs can be done by someone with basic skills, but even so there are inevitably right and wrong ways to do all these tasks. When maintenance work is done by a yard, you can expect to pay a significant hourly rate for their time. However, if you are prepared to do some or all of this comparatively low skilled work yourself and can do so to a high standard, then you can save yourself a good chunk of money, provided you have the time and inclination to do so.

If you don’t have the time or inclination to do the work yourself then you will need to arrange to pay for the routine maintenance to be done by others. Most yards will have people on site who are able to do this work for you. It is always best to check with a yard before lifting out what maintenance work they are able to arrange for you and what their rates are going to be. There is no harm in asking other boat owners about their experiences with the standards of workmanship of local yards.

Repairing and refurbishing

In the end, almost every part or piece of equipment on a boat either wears out or breaks and at some time will need to be replaced. Certain items, for example running rigging, engine hoses and interior fittings, are easy enough to replace while others, such as the standing rigging, cutless bearings or through hull fittings are not so straight forward, even when replacing like for like. While it may be tempting to carry out these more complex tasks yourself, for peace of mind most boat owners tend to have these more demanding types of job done by professionals.

Much will depend on your experience and DIY skills, plus whether you have the time available and in some cases access to specialist tools. Another issue that creeps in here is the matter of sourcing spares, especially those which are no longer manufactured. This can take a prohibitive amount of time, depending on the age and class of your boat.

Refit

A complete refit is usually a complex and lengthy process that requires a carefully planned project timeline, the drawing up of a realistic budget and experienced project management. Whether the project manager is the owner or a professional, their job is to ensure that both the project timeline and budget are kept on track. Some owners like to take on this role themselves, but in order to do this they need to have the time, resources and expertise to see the project through.

   

Some prospective boat owners go in search of old and neglected boats in need of complete refits in the hope that they will pick up a bargain. The boat market is swamped with such boats that can take years to sell. Many of these are virtually worthless as the costs of refitting them and making them seaworthy again will be likely to exceed the market value of the repaired boat. That said there are bargains out there for those who have the experience, resources and desire to renovate an old boat. This is good news for boatyards, as these boats often remain ashore indefinitely as they are painstakingly renovated.

Advice on refitting

There are plenty of trained shipwrights who have the experience to advise on whether a neglected boat is worth refitting or not. Some offer a service to help prospective buyers investigate a boat’s condition and to estimate what a refit would cost. While these services are not free, they are a safeguard against buying a boat that could turn into too big a project.

The rewards of boat ownership

It is no secret that the costs of running a boat soon mount up and these need to be factored in from the outset.

Not wanting to end this post on a downer (hard work, costs, more hard work, more costs) caring for your own boat brings a great deal of satisfaction. While being able to stand back and admire a well looked after boat in all its sparkling glory in the boatyard is one thing, I hope you will agree that the real rewards are to be enjoyed out on the water.

Tips and advice for staying safe on a sailboat at sea

Here we focus on how to stay safe on a sailboat at sea. We cover key things to ensure you have on board before you set sail as well as covering the most common cause of incidents on sailboats and how to deal with them.

Essential Knots: Bowline

Essential Knots: Bowline Use: Making a secure eye or loop in the end of a rope. Bowlines have many uses on a boat, for example to make a...

Medical Emergency at Sea

How to deal with a medical emergency afloat   If you are planning a boating trip, it is important to have at least one...

Avoiding personal dangers at sea

In order to stay safe at sea, we need to know the risks we are facing and to be aware of any personal dangers we could possibly encounter. Here are six of the most common potential dangers individual crew members should be aware of.

Essential Yachting + Power Boat Safety Briefing

Yachting Safety Briefing   Down below Lifejackets and harnesses - fitting, when to wear, clipping on Gas - risks,...

Boat engine fuel system

If engines are installed and serviced correctly then most marine engines are very reliable, but one of the most important parts of the engine to check and service is the fuel system.

Sail care and maintenance – Part 2

At the end of the sailing season sails should be washed and inspected carefully for damage, including small tears, stitching failure, ultraviolet damage, stains and mildew.

Boat maintenance log

Keeping a boat maintenance log is an ideal way of reminding owners what needs to be done to a boat and when. Read on for some tips,...

Essential Knots: Clove hitch

Essential Knots: Clove hitch Use: Tying a rope to posts, bollards, rings or a guardrail. Step 1. Make a turn around the object and lay...

Essential boat engine checklist

Boat engine checklist Engine oil level check Even if you have checked it previously, confirming the engine oil level is up...

Jester Challenge 2022 – Sailing single handed from Plymouth UK to the Azores: Getting to the Start

Jester Challenge – A modern experiment in old-fashioned self-reliance, self sufficiency, and personal responsibility. This is the start of a 10-part post where solo sailor, Bernie Branfield, shares his first hand account of his single-handed, 2022 Jester Challenge, from Plymouth, UK to the Azores, in his 26′ Invicta Mk2, Louisa.

Boat surveys

A full boat survey assesses the condition of the hull, mechanical gear and means of propulsion. The survey is carried out with the boat...

The give-way hierarchy at sea – who gives way to whom?

Whatever their size or type, all skippers have a responsibility to avoid collisions with other boats at sea.  It is...

Keel maintenance and Repair – Part 2

If you have ever witnessed a boat colliding with a rock or other submerged obstacle you will know that there is an almighty thump and the whole boat shakes and judders. While such hard groundings seldom result in catastrophic keel failure, something has to give and even the sturdiest keels can easily be damaged by such an impact.

Light characteristics – how do navigators identify lights at night?

How do navigators identify the different types of light around our coasts at night and what are their characteristics?Navigating at...

The give-way hierarchy – sail boats and power boats

Who gives way to who at sea? Even seasoned sailors sometimes get this wrong and in a crowded harbour this can easily lead to a collision or at best considerable embarrassment for a boat that mistakenly thinks it has right of way over another.

Rewiring a boat – overcoming the challenges involved

Skippers need to have a basic knowledge of boat electrics, to avoid potential problems and to be able to solve them when they happen.

VHF DSC radio – how best to communicate at sea

There are many ways to communicate with others at sea. What makes the VHF DSC radio the best form of short range...

Boat engine cooling systems

Some boat engine breakdowns are unavoidable but those caused by lack of maintenance or regular checks can be avoided. Failure to maintain an engine’s cooling system is a well known example of this, so it is well worth spending time checking over the cooling system both when the boat is ashore and afloat.

Boat batteries

Under-sized battery banks are one of the key factors behind power failure at sea, as well as the premature failure of batteries, so make sure that your boat battery measures up to the use you want to put it to.

Hourly Checks when sailing or motoring

  Hourly Checks Get into the habit of carrying out these checks and both yourself, your crew and your boat will be...

Antifouling for leisure boats – Part 4

Applying antifouling. Antifouling is best applied on a dry, calm day. It is best to apply the antifouling in the middle of the day to ensure the hull is dry and as warm as possible.

Jester Challenge 2022 – Sailing single handed from Plymouth UK to the Azores: Part 8 – Arriving at the Azores

Jester Challenge – A modern experiment in old-fashioned self-reliance, self sufficiency, and personal responsibility. This is the eighth of a 10-part post where solo sailor, Bernie Branfield, shares his first-hand account of his single-handed, 2022 Jester Challenge, from Plymouth, UK to the Azores, in his 26′ Invicta Mk2, Louisa.

Fire safety advice at sea from the Marine & Coastguard Agency

Fire safety advice for boaters Top fire safety advice at sea: 1. Fit smoke alarms, carbon monoxide and gas detectors 2. Turn...

Essential yacht tender safety for skippers and crew

Essential yacht tender safety - the dangers inherent in using a dinghy to get ashore from a moored or anchored yacht are all too easily...