Many boat owners bemoan the delays in the spring that are often encountered when preparing their boat for the new season, particularly when new equipment is to be fitted, or new sails delivered. Given the high cost of running even a relatively modest-sized yacht it’s hardly surprising that such delays are frustrating. However, it’s also easy to forget exactly how seasonal much of the yacht preparation and repair industry is – a huge proportion of their annual turnover is in three months during spring and early summer.
Time spent during the autumn can therefore often reap rewards in the early part of the following season. In particular, it’s important to get orders for new sails in early, as the bigger firms work on a minimum 8-10 week lead time for orders. This time of year tends to be their quietest season, which means you’re most likely to be able to specify your choice of delivery dates and may also be able to negotiate a useful discount.
Similarly, if planning to install new deck gear, electronics or domestic systems, then the earlier the order is finalised, the further up the priority list you will be in the spring. Just make sure you think carefully through all requirements well in advance – changing your mind about specifications, or adding additional tasks to the list, can cause significant disruption.
With this in mind it’s also important to check that sails, canvas work and all equipment is in good order before winterising the boat, so that any repairs can be scheduled over the off season. It’s therefore worth inspecting all easily visible wiring and electrical connections for signs of water ingress, in addition to checking that all navigation, interior and exterior lights work, along with other systems including fridges, instruments and nav aids, fridges, fresh water pumps, shower sump pumps and freshwater pumps.
On deck check lines for chafe and look for seized or partially seized sheaves. It’s also a good plan to schedule winch and windless servicing for an early date as this will help protect them during the winter. The same applies to the engine and, where fitted, generator so that they have clean oil over the winter.
In short, the secret to easy and efficient fitting out in the spring relies on laying up in a methodical and efficient manner at the end of the season.