Winter Yacht Maintenance – It must be love!

3 bladed fixed prop

cradle and cleanWinter yacht maintenance is never relished. We try to keep it a quick but with effective work done in the shortest period that any boat is out of the water  – and just hope that there will be enough dry and ‘warm’ days to be able to complete works on the outside. We then finish off works as quickly as possible and get the boat back onto the dock ready to get her back out on the water for work and pay back some of the huge expense of boat ownership. Buying a boat is not the expensive part of ownership – the annual maintenance and running costs are vast for a vessel on the south coast of the UK – especially if kept in a top notch marina on the river Hamble – A 37 foot boat will be £8,000 just to tie her up!

You have to get the boat craned out and put into cradles and the jet wash to clean off any growth. The bottom is stripped back, checked for osmosis and painted with anti-foul seen blue in this photo. The topsides polished out to come up gleaming. The sea-cocks and skin fittings checked for corrosion and replaced as necessary and the all important sacrificial anodes replaced along with the prop shaft deep water seal, prop rope cutter and possibly the prop shaft itself if you took any wraps during the season (below)

prop with rope cutterThe rudder will be dropped out (not literally) and bearings replaced and the steering checked.  The surveyor can come out and have a look and give advice and if it is that time again the out of water survey will be completed. Final clean up is done afloat again once the boat is cradled back in with the decks washed with acid and the GRP work in the cockpit polished.

Pumps, toilets, heating, fridges, electrics will all be checked and canvass work and sails repaired. Rig check completed, life-raft and life-jackets serviced, gas system checked, fire-extinguishers checked, bilges cleaned, new sole board carpet, inside of the boat deep cleaned,  the mildew attacked and the varnish on the wood work touched up. That is all in addition to the engine being serviced every 60 days during the season… better safe than sorry!

Some people may wonder why yachting is so expensive and does it really cost all that money to get afloat – well the boat you see in these photos has had a lot done to it this year.

New engine and gear boxNew Engine Volvo 2040see George here putting the final touches to the brand new Volvo 2040 replacement engine and gearbox with specially fabricated engine mounts (because it is smaller in size than the old one) new prop shaft (because it needed a longer one)  and the engine has to be put into the boat with the use of a specially hired in crane… because of health and safety. If you ever hear the engine alarm or suspect overheating please never ignore it! It will have fatal consequences for the engine and all reputable charter companies will have ‘Sea Start’ (AA of boats that will come out and fix things) so just moor up, try to clear the intake blockage and if necessary call them out.

The sea test had this engine purring like a contented cat after eating cream! Small consolation of the cost of the replacement! But really good to know.

What Does Boat Maintenance Cost?

The boat below had a bit done to it this year – hopefully not every year otherwise we will be really smarting! But it should give you a flavour of what can be spent…

hull polishNew in 2015:

Sails, main and genoa, Stackpack system, Hood, Dodgers. Engine, Gearbox, Gear cabling, Cooker, Fridge, Anchor chain & Windlass remote, 10 man life-raft, Dinghy.

Then all the standing rigging replaced every 7 years due to commercial insurance requirements and the running rigging regularly maintained along with the winches etc etc. So you get my drift – there is a never ending running maintenance programme and we are lucky to have such a great team to look after the boats. If we need a turnaround for a torn sail – we can get that in 3 hours and immediate work to fix running repairs as soon as we return to the dock. And we do need it – as when in season the boats are working back to back and the turnaround time between charters is only a couple of hours and we do not want to delay things.

So, the next time you charter a boat remember to check your timings and tides! Be aware that the charter companies need their boats back on time, tanks filled ,cleaned down and vacated so that they can make the boat ready for the next guys to go out – remember  it could be you wanting your boat on time!