There is nothing more liberating than taking to the open water – that is, until something unexpected unfolds. Yacht ownership is an adventure, no doubt, and unavoidably the occasional issue is going to catch you by surprise. You can, however, go an awfully long way towards keeping your yacht in tip-top condition by establishing some strong yacht maintenance habits. From ritualising your inspection process to cultivating a comprehensive yacht maintenance checklist, getting organised will reward you in more ways than one. Not only will you safeguard the smooth running of your craft, but you will also improve its longevity and value. With that in mind, we have put together our top tips for upping your yacht maintenance game.
1. Take pride in planning ahead
A yacht is a thing of beauty, not only aesthetically, but also in terms of what it can accomplish. As such, “winging it” should not be an option when it comes to yacht care. A complex craft requires an engaged level of diligence – far beyond its annual services. Rather than feeling daunted by the task, make it a practice of pride and passion, and be confident that looking after your yacht is going to become second nature before you know it. Maintenance requirements are going to vary from craft to craft. Factors such as age, size, and usage will call for different approaches. Plan ahead by getting familiar with the manufacturer's ownership manuals. Quiz your yacht broker when purchasing a new or used yacht as to the ins and outs of its prior care schedule. Scope out potential maintenance challenges that are beyond your remit and consult a professional ahead of time to avoid potentially sticky situations.
2. Familiarise yourself with your yacht's systems
Every yacht owner is destined to become multi-talented, even if they call in an expert for some maintenance tasks. A substantial number of systems are called into action when you take to the waves. Careful maintenance of those systems, such as your engine, electrical wiring and batteries, plumbing, pumps, and air conditioning – just to scratch the surface, will keep your sailing experience pleasant and uninterrupted. What is more, the better you know your boat's systems, the more likely it is that you will spot a problem while it is still forming, thereby minimising your upkeep costs, and reducing the risk of a technical breakdown.
Identify the best places to access your various systems and learn how to check functionality. Do you know how to audit your electrical draw, or where all your various tanks are? Do you know how the various systems on board interrelate, and the terminology you would use to describe them? Just as a car will fare much better in the long run with a loving touch between annual services, your yacht will thank you for a much more rigorous level of engagement than that provided by annual overhauls, winterisation, and de-winterisation. Take the time to get to know your craft intimately and gain a wealth of new skills and experience in the process.
3. Develop an efficient cleaning routine
The salinity of seawater makes for a greater risk of corrosion, so saltwater boaters need to take their cleaning routine seriously. Not only will this extend the lifespan of everything from rigging and gel coats, to engine parts and upholstery, but it will also mean you'll be staying ahead once again, spotting issues in the making such as new cracks or corrosion.
Within the realm of yacht maintenance, cleaning will not only protect functional parts, but also allow you to ensure safety, and keep aesthetic surfaces and elements from degrading. Stay on top of streaks and dust and show your craft some affection!
4. Ritualise your yacht inspection
Pairing regular cleaning with a ritualised inspection schedule is a sure-fire recipe for yacht maintenance success. Your inspection process could be compared to the process of checking in with all your friends. If you accidentally skip over any of them, you will be missed – and likely to hear about it later! Be sure to set aside adequate time for your yacht inspection ritual so that you never have to rush. Check levels of coolant, oil, and the like; examine your propeller, deck hardware, and batteries: each and every element of your craft deserves and will benefit from a check-in.
5. Identify valuable on-board spares
You have your safety equipment stowed away, but have you got a sensible array of spares to hand too? Having the right tools ready for action, and enough spares to be confident of being able to roll out repairs, or even get-me-home fixes in a pinch, means real peace of mind. Beyond rigging spares, consider fuses, plumbing parts, sail repair kit, and so on. Once again, the better you know your boat, the more likely it will be that you can anticipate potential needs before they side-swipe you.
6. Create a yacht maintenance checklist
As familiar as you may become with your yacht, even the greatest minds drop the ball from time to time. This is where a yacht maintenance checklist comes into its own – making sure every box is ticked means time well spent. If you and your craft are only just getting acquainted, bringing in a pro to help you create your checklist is a fantastic strategy. Paying someone for their time now can mean navigating around a more expensive bill later. Incorporate various checklists for different intervals, so that your daily, weekly, monthly, and annual tasks never sail straight past their window.
7. Keep a yacht maintenance log
A yacht maintenance log is a fantastic aid. Alongside reminding you what you did and when, it will also be a fantastic resource should you come to sell your yacht in the future. Be sure to log all maintenance and servicing work, noting dates and details as appropriate. You can also use your log to keep track of maintenance issues that do not require attention yet but will in the not-too-distant future. For the best yachting experience, make the condition of your craft a measure of yourself, knowing that the rewards will be bountiful!