Prepare for the Boatyard

Posted: February 1, 2014

By: Story and photo by Deane Hislop

Once you’ve chosen a boatyard, your work is far from over. Before delivering your boat for service or repair, you can do a few things to ensure the boat’s time on the hard goes as anticipated, the work is completed on schedule and there are no surprises.

 

Establishing a well-developed work order is the most fundamental tool for every job, large or small, for you and the yard to rely on throughout the job. It establishes a baseline for the job. It will be the place to record, in writing, the scope of the job, estimates, its status, change orders, anomalies encountered along the way, materials needed, special requirements and warranty issues. A work order must be in writing and signed by all parties to show agreement and protect all involved. Simply calling the yard and ordering engine service is not sufficient. You must have provisions for the scope of the job, change provisions, start and completion dates, cost estimates and a cost overrun clause, and a work order is the place for all that. A large-project work order should have a provision for status updates. Get it all in writing.

For repairs that are part of an insurance claim, your relationship with the insurance company is not the yard’s responsibility or concern.

Take precautions to prepare your boat for time in the yard. The work may generate dust and other messes. Make sure you know how your boat is to be protected during the work that is being done on yours and any other boats nearby. Make sure you have made it clear that you expect the boat to be returned in the same condition as delivered.

Provide the yard any boat hauling/lifting information or experience you have about your boat. Put instructional tags everywhere they can be helpful. Technicians actually appreciate these “idiot” tags (e.g., “fuel cutoff below helm seat” or “short in genset, do not start”). The tags speed up the work and can prevent serious damage to your boat and to service personnel.

A clean engine room and bilge make it easier for service personnel to finish their work. Keep work areas as clutter-free as possible. If you have to keep items on board, label your gear with the boat’s name, particularly lines, fenders and boat hooks. They could end up on someone else’s boat. Lock up or remove portable electronics, fishing gear and valuables. Even though the boat is at the yard, the safety and security of the items aboard are your responsibility.

Create a line drawing of your boat and review it with the service manager. You can use the drawing to point out any imperfections. Ask the service manager to date and sign the drawing. If there are any new dings in the gelcoat after service, there will be no doubt about who’s responsible for the repair.

It’s also a good idea to give the yard a list that includes relevant serial numbers, starting instructions and other important information, such as the location of power panels and seacocks.

Last, keep the communication lines open and establish expectations up front. If the yard doesn’t keep you informed on a regular basis, find out why.

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