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Plotting a Route Back to Boating

Plotting a Route Back to Boating

Coleman Marine Insurance, A Gallagher Company is offering practical advice to boat owners to ensure that their boats are in good condition for re-commissioning and getting back on to the water as the restrictions caused by the current pandemic are gradually lifted.  Yacht & Commercial Craft Development Manager, Tony Pauffley, commented, “A lot of the advice that we are giving is very straight forward but often forgotten and this can cause unnecessary problems for owners once their boats are back on the water.” 

It’s certainly been a year like no other but the same rules apply “fail to plan, plan to fail”. Your list of work required is more important than normal, and as access to your boat may have been restricted you might need to engage the services of your local boatyard for more of the jobs that you may usually do yourself. The maintenance items still need doing it’s just going to take planning to get them done. 

Tony continued, “Draw up a list of the items you know need some attention, divide them up into the ones you are going to attend to and the ones you are going to ask the boatyard or contractor to fix. Here are some general areas that might prompt you;”

Engine Servicing 

It’s good to encourage customers to develop a relationship with one engineering company so the engineer they used to get the boat ready for winter can also be the one used to get the engine ready for the season. Let them know your intended launch date and get the required work booked in before the usual seasonal rush. Work will usually include the changing of oil and filters, v-belt, anodes, impeller & batteries. Include in this work all machinery up to and including the propeller. Having an engine that you can really rely on can save the day when manoeuvring in tight situations.

Skin fitting & Seacock servicing

Whilst the boat is ashore, check that all seacocks are operating, and inspect skin fittings and seacocks for any indication of electrolysis damage. If in any doubt, get the boat yard to do this for you. All underwater fittings should be double clipped and it’s a good idea to have a wooden bung attached to each under water outlet.

Hull Anodes

Check that they are working as normal. If not, what has changed? Have you moved location? Do you have the correct anode material? Is the internal earth wire intact? Are the studs in good condition? With an ever- increasing dependence on shore power your anodes can become your last line of defence. Regular inspection is essential.

Mast, Spars, Sails & Rigging

If the mast is down it’s a great time to get a rigger to do a full inspection. If the mast is still stepped, you may have to wait until the vessel has been relaunched to do the full inspection.  If the standing rigging is getting on in age, it could be worth having it all replaced. Mast fittings and sails should all be inspected for damage and corrective work undertaken.


Did the antifouling you used last year perform well? If not, seek advice and possibly consider a change, not all antifouling is compatible. It’s always ideal to get the best finish you can before applying the next year’s antifouling. Any imperfections will slow the boat or cost you in fuel consumption because the vessel will have to fight the drag. A mid-season clean up could also be worth planning in before a longer passage or set of races. Please follow the manufacturer’s recommendations when handling and working with antifouling.

Check the safety gear.

It’s essential to check that you have the correct fire extinguishers on board and that they are in date. To have a carbon monoxide detector fitted might be a good idea. Restock the first-aid kit. Inspect the life jackets, life lines and jackstays - replace or service as required. Have the correct in date flares on-board for the navigation intended.

Navigation and electronics

Navigation lights and equipment need to be checked for operation as far as you are able to with the vessel laid up.

Exterior and interior Valet

Giving the boat a good clean inside and out will not only make her much more pleasant to own and operate but will also make it much easier to identify a problem and fix. Marine specific cleaning products can really help with the task of cleaning the boat and avoid damaging the vessel in the process of cleaning.  This is also a good time to give the gelcoat some protection from the elements with a quality marine polish.   

The Heads

It’s a long-standing tradition that the skipper is responsible for looking after the heads - it’s operation and the general cleanness of the loo compartment. I would recommend taking the time to give it a service and clean to make sure it is operating properly. Nobody likes stinky heads!       


The final recommissioning of the fresh water system is best done in the water and just before you start using the vessel.

Concluding, Tony advised, “The tips that I have given in this article are intended as useful information only and I would always strongly recommend that a boat owner refers to their owner’s manual for manufacturer’s advice and guidance and always looks to seek the advice of professionals when in doubt.”


The opinions and views expressed in the above articles are those of the author only and are for guidance purposes only. The authors disclaim any liability for reliance upon those opinions and would encourage readers to rely upon more than one source before making a decision based on the information

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Coleman Marine Insurance is a trading name of Arthur J. Gallagher Insurance Brokers Limited, which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Registered Office: Spectrum Building, 7th Floor, 55 Blythswood Street, Glasgow, G2 7AT. Registered in Scotland. Company Number: SC108909