Pre Season Sailing Yacht and Motor Boat check up from Nicolle Associates –

At Nicolle Associates, we are much more than yacht brokers! Selling your current vessel or helping you to find a new one is just part of the complete service that we provide for our clients. Our services extend to virtually every area of yacht ownership from maintenance to insurance, modifications to custom builds. In this, the first of a series of regular articles, Tim Brouard, our Service Delivery Manager, takes you through the important pre-season checks that you should carry out on your vessel.

Boat Yard services from Nicolle Asscoaites -

Boat Yard services from Nicolle Asscoaites –

As we write the UK has been battered by some very aggressive winter storms,  however, with the new boating season just around the corner now is the time to give serious thought to the maintenance and checks that you should be making on your boat. Boatyards and individual marine engineers are approaching what is always the busiest time of the year for them. You would be wise to get your yacht booked in soon, or that first cruise, planned for over the Easter break perhaps, may not take place.

Your pre-season checks and the maintenance that you carry out are very important. Not only can they provide you with a trouble free season they ultimately can ensure that you, family and friends stay safe! We can divide the pre-season check-up into three areas, hull and deck, electrical and mechanical and safety. If you own a sailing yacht, the list gets a little bit longer!

Antifouling from Nicolle Asscoaites -

Antifouling from Nicolle Asscoaites –

When it comes to the hull and deck hopefully this will be very much a cosmetic exercise. Now is the time to give your vessel a really good clean, wax, polish and antifoul where applicable and, while you are doing it, take the time to look carefully for any cracks, scratches or blisters. They could be the first signs of serious and expensive problems if left to deteriorate. Dealt with early the expense will be significantly less and the chances of minor damage becoming major greatly reduced or eliminated altogether.  While you are cleaning make sure that any drains and scuppers are clear.

Make sure all your deck fittings are secure and lifelines have no signs of wear. Your anchor windlass will need a service as will winches and blocks if you have a sailing yacht. Did you notice any minor leaks towards the end of last season? If so, now is the time to get them fixed before they become more significant or even dangerous.

Look for any sign of damage or corrosion on the propeller, rudder and shaft. Take the opportunity to lubricate where recommended by the manufacturers and check your anodes. If they show signs of significant wear, change them. Yes, you can change them mid-season but why go to the additional expense of having the boat lifted, or employing a diver to do the work if she is already sitting on the hard standing.

When it comes to the mechanical installations in your boat, unless you consider yourself competent in this area we strongly recommend that you get the professional’s in. Your engine should have a full service to the manufacturers specification. We suggest you ask the engineer to not only carry out the service but make sure that all of the engine, gearbox and sterngear within the yacht are secure and showing no signs of damage or wear. While there he should also check that your bilge pump is working correctly and that all of the seacocks are functioning normally and lubricated.

Marine electronics from Nicolle Asscoaites -

Marine electronics from Nicolle Asscoaites –

The same applies to your electrical systems. If you have any concerns get the professional on board to check things over for you. If you’re confident that all is OK, at least, while your vessel is still in harbour, take the time to start everything up and make sure that all the services and facilities that you rely on to stay safe are working. GPS, radar, VHF radio, shore power, the battery charger, the batteries themselves, are they holding their charge? Are the navigation and internal lights all working and do you have spare bulbs for all of them?   Your electrical systems also provide you with a lot of comfort. If you have one, is the TV OK, and what about the fridge? Every yacht has different equipment, and every owner has different ideas about what is important to them to ensure a good boating trip. You will have your own ‘essential’ items, check them before you leave harbour for the first time this coming season.

Marine plumbing and gas from Nicolle Asscoaites -

Marine plumbing and gas from Nicolle Asscoaites –

Internally there are three areas that need attention. The heads, water system and galley all need a thorough check and clean. We suggest you drain and flush your water tank and check the whole system for leaks and correct operation. In the heads, apart from cleaning make sure that all the valves, pumps and seacocks are working correctly. The galley is the area where you should take the most time for the obvious reason that this is the area with the potential to cause the greatest danger if not functioning correctly and, if not danger, considerable inconvenience. Apart from giving the fridge, freezer and cooker a really good clean make sure that all electrical and / or gas connections are correct and that burners and safety cut outs on the cooker and in its oven are working.

If yours is a sailing yacht, while everything above will apply, you also have sails and rigging to attend to. As far as the sails are concerned many of you will have sent your sails away to be washed and checked. Whether sent away or not, when you are putting them back on, check them over carefully  to make sure they are still sound. Is there any wear or chafing? Is the condition of batten pockets and attachment points for reefing lines sound, and the bolt rope in good condition? With the rigging, a very careful check of the mast, spreaders and every fitting is an imperative, as is the need to ensure that your rig is correctly tensioned. This might well be another area where you would consider asking your local rigging company to ensure that everything is in order.

What about the ‘off the boat’ items and your on-board health and safety equipment. ‘Off the boat’ will probably mean the dinghy and outboard plus your liferaft. If the dingy is not leaking then a good clean and check over should be all that is required. Any leak, however small, should be dealt with by a professional dingy repair company. Your outboard, if hardly used and working normally, will probably be OK with just a check over and new plugs. The propeller, fuel lines, tank, and plug wires should all be carefully examined and, if in doubt about any part of the units’ integrity, please get it checked over and serviced if necessary.

Safety Equipment from Nicolle Asscoaites -

Safety Equipment from Nicolle Asscoaites –

When it comes to safety we will start with your life raft. The item you never want to use is in its sealed container and it is so easy to assume thateverything will work correctly. There are very good  reasons why liferafts are recommended for inspection and service at regular intervals however.

The same applies to life jackets and perhaps the first question you should be asking yourself is whether or not you have enough life jackets on board for the largest number of people you will ever have on the boat at any one time. If not, please purchase extra units.

As for your other safety equipment, in all cases it is just a matter of common sense but, it is worthwhile before the season starts to make sure that everything is in order. Distress flares still in date? MOB equipment checked and in good condition? EPIRB in fully working order and with a good battery? Can your first aid kit cover most eventualities when offshore?

Marine Insurance from Nicolle Asscoaites -

Marine Insurance from Nicolle Asscoaites –

Finally, your insurance! Many yacht insurance policies and the protection they provide are dependent on the areas in which you sail. If you are planning on cruising brand new areas this summer you should check your policy to ensure that cover extends to those new areas. If there is any doubt in your mind then please ring your insurance company.

We hope you have found the reminders in this article of help. If you would like to talk to Tim Brouard about any aspect of your pre-season checks please do not hesitate to contact him.

Tim Brouard –

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