Expert Advice

Boat Maintenance – Why Prevention is Better Than Cure

We’ve all heard the saying, a boat is like a hole in the water into which you pour money! For many boat owners, this experience is caused by unforeseen expenses and costly repairs, which are often the result of poor boat maintenance and are completely preventable. Let’s face it, if you are lucky enough to own your boat, you’ve probably earned it through your talents in a profitable career where the skills you’ve honed probably have very little to do with the hands on practicalities of maintaining a boat, if in fact you have the time to do so.

But for most boat owners, paying for professionals for general boat maintenance tasks is not an expense that’s affordable or desirable, and with the right amount of knowledge and planning you will find that you can carry out this regular maintenance yourself without too much effort and actually save money, by avoiding costly repairs and long-term problems.

Often a surveyor will be called upon when buying or selling a yacht, but I doubt many of you would want to pay for a professional survey every few years unless your insurer required it? By carrying out your own periodic inspections as part of your maintenance program you will first of all keep your insurers happy – there are policies that cover you for any loss as a result of a wear and tear failure, but most will require you to prove that there has been regular upkeep. Not only that, a regular maintenance program will actually help to lower your long term expenses, preserve the value of your boat and ensure overall safety and reliability at sea.

six white boats under horizons

The Advantages of Predictive Boat Maintenance.

With the exception of boat equipment that is unimportant, inexpensive or unlikely to fail, the current leading best practice in boat maintenance moves away from the old fashioned idea of ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it’, which is a false economy, to one of predictive maintenance.

Predictive maintenance goes beyond suggested routine preventative maintenance which is based on time schedules or fixed routines, to one where the actual condition of equipment is determined in order to predict when maintenance should be performed or when equipment should be replaced. This may mean replacing aged or worn boat parts while they are still functioning to avoid a potential failure. For example, you may replace an old but working bilge pump before setting off on a longer passage to ensure it works as needed. It means that maintenance routines are predicted to only be performed when required and it has been proven to save time and money in the long run.

The first stage in developing an effective predictive boat maintenance plan is to compile a list of critical and essential items of equipment on board. Group and prioritise these by those which would cause a serious issue were they to fail, e.g. your steering gear, and those that will seriously spoil your time on the water, e.g the toilet doesn’t work. Then determine the type of maintenance activities required for each piece of equipment, taking into account, the manufacturer’s recommendations, age of the equipment and the last time any work was carried out, rules and regulations you need to comply with including your insurer’s requirements, and your own abilities.

Make records to learn how long items last, spot failure patterns, to work out the overall cost of parts and to be in a position to predict what you’ll need in the near future. Keep a record of spares and parts used that you will need again – one of the benefits of Nick Cox Yacht Club is that we can help you keep track of of your previous purchases.

Predictive Boat Maintenance Checklist.

There are number of excellent boat maintenance schedules available online should you require a comprehensive checklist, but as a general guide below, you’ll find a list of the main areas we recommend to check as part of your predictive baot maintenance to ensure they are in good condition:

Critical:

  • Hull, closures, seals and hatches
  • Steering gear
  • Engine and fuel systems
  • Fire fighting equipment
  • Radio equipment
  • Bilge pumps and systems
  • Standing rigging

Essential:

  • Position finding equipment
  • Navigation and signal lights
  • Batteries
  • Running Rigging
  • Winches
  • Liferafts and man-overboard equipment
  • Anchors and chain
  • Mooring equipment
  • Water systems
  • First aid
white and brown boat

Nick Cox Yacht Chandler

At Nick Cox Yacht Chandler, we keep a large stock of chandlery to help you with your boat maintenance, available in our Lymington chandlery and online through our website.

We are also able to advise on any areas of concern, and best practices in maintaining your boat. Contact us today on 01590 673489 or start a chat with one of our staff.

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