How to avoid damages on the yacht.

Discover dangers in advance and avoid them properly

Every season we realize there are damages that occur over and over again. Although sailors are familiar with most dangers, there are several issues they are not always mindful of. Being aware of what may happen as a result of one’s negligence lets you prepare specifically for problematic situations and avoid any potential damages.

The following catalogue of avoidable damages and tips on how to avoid them can spare you from any unnecessary trouble, as well as unexpected expenditures, and therefore contribute to a peaceful co-operation between the crew, the charterer and the insurer.

  1. Yacht takeover
  • 100% thorough yacht takeover is an absolute necessity, so take your time!
  • Responsibility for the chartered yacht lies with the skipper.
  • The skipper confirms the observed state of the vessel in a protocol of delivery and acceptance.This way any misunderstandings or unjustifiably retaining of deposit can be avoided.
  • Only after double-checking the yacht, one can be sure that damages discovered once the cruise is finished happened not before but during the trip.
  1. Yacht handover
  • Report all problems of the yacht which occurred during the cruise at the handover procedure.
  • Skippers insured by YACHT-POOL are expected to report also culpably caused damages even if they are not noticeable at first sight. If the damages were caused by faulty behaviour of the skipper or his crew, the insurer (assuming there is indeed a proper insurance purchased before) will bear the costs.
  • Retained deposits, especially those allegedly unjustifiably retained, must be reported to YACHT-POOL immediately.
  • Damages or return of the undamaged yacht have to be confirmed in a written protocol at the base.
  1. Engine: Checking the oil level.
  • All ship engines require engine oil.
  • Regular checking of the oil level drastically reduces engine damages.
  • Check the oil level frequently during the cruise in order to avoid costly engine damages.
  • This concerns motorboats, as well as sailboats.
  • Remember to ask the charterer, if and how often you should check the oil level. Some companies prefer the engine room not to be opened at all.
  1. Engine: Overheating due to insufficient cooling
  • The engine, as well as the cooling system should get explained during yacht takeover.
  • Keep an eye on the heat indicator.
  • In case of overheating switch off and check the engine immediately.
  • Common causes of overheating are a defective water pump impeller or a broken plastic piece of the cooling water inlet.
  • Burnt cylinder heads are a costly damage to fix!
  1. Engine: Ignition key or power On/Off switch
  • Never operate the ignition key or power On/Off switch while the engine is running.
  • Never turn the battery switch while the engine is running (this destroy the alternator voltage regulator).
  • After switching off the engine by the use of safety kill switch, turn back the power switch to „Off“, or
  • Turn back the ignition key, otherwise the battery will get discharged.
  • Attention, common mistake! A battery discharged in such a way is very often destroyed.
  1. Transmission failure: ropes stuck in the propeller

  • In case of ropes floating around or underwater chains (e.g. in marinas or during anchoring), switch the gear to neutral, in case they come to close to the running propeller.
  • Keep off the fishing lines! Once you got caught by anglers, contact the harbour or a petrol station for assistance.
  • In case of emergency, dive and remove ropes or lines with a knife.
  • Keep in mind that diving in the harbour or close to it is dangerous and strictly forbidden in some places, e.g. Croatia.
  1. Drivetrain

Differences between saildrive and shaft drive with fixed or fold propeller:

  • Engines with saildrive and fixed pitch propeller: let the axis rotate while sailing, otherwise the transmission may get blocked!
  • Engines with shaft drive and fixed pitch propeller: switch gear to reverse to stop axis rotation. This will protect its bearings.
  • Do not switch gear if excessive effort is required. Do not speed up by force.
  • Take short breaks between changing gear from ahead to astern.
  • On yachts with shaft drive and fixed pitch propeller, you should switch gear to neutral only if the vessel moves very slowly, otherwise there would be too much pressure on the propeller.
  1. Reversing: Danger of damaging the rudder
  • When reversing, hold on tight to the wheel and drive slowly. Attention: The rudder blade receives pressure from the wrong side, which makes it hard to hold on to the wheel.
  • Keep the helm amidships, dead slow astern (until the vessel is moving), reduce speed and then steer.
  1. Sailing with engine running
  • Ship engines do not get sufficiently lubricated if the margin of oil level is greater than 10%.
  • Sailing with mainsail and running engine during strong winds can permanently destroy the engine!
  • In case of emergency, but only for a short period of time, it is acceptable to sail with a reefed genoa and a running engine.
  • Attention! Engine breakdowns due of low oil are costly damages.
  1. Mainsail furler
  • When operating the furling system always pay attention to the position of the handle’s locking lever! Find out where the handle it is affixed (usually on the mast winch).
  • Set lever position to free while setting sails. Afterwards always set the lever back to ratchet.
  • Also set the lever back to ratchet after reefing (otherwise there is too much pressure on the line).
  • When setting sail, open both stoppers of the endless furling line and roll it in, so that the mast winch rotates clockwise (to avoid the sail rolling in the wrong direction and getting stuck).
  • If the outhaul has not been slackened before setting the main sail, the main may get jammed when re-setting the sail. If you keep using the sails this way they won’t last long.
  1. Main sail: reefing without a furling system
  • To avoid unintentional unreefing, the reef lines, especially the reef outhaul and the reef tack should be tied up tightly. Otherwise the reef clew may get released with a stronger gust of wind.
  • It is good to secure the reef clew to the boom with an additional lashing.
  1. Staysails: Furling system
  • A halyard that is not set taut can cause breaking of the forestay due to its overload.
  • A loose jib/genoa halyard can wrap around the upper part of the furler, while the sail is being unfurled or furled. If the halyard is wrapping around the forestay and twisting it, the sail might get torn, especially if winches are being used. This may result in a falling of the mast over crew‘s heads if the forestay breaks.
  • Check the tension of the jib halyard frequently, in case it has slackened.
  • Attention: Apart from a halyard being not taut enough, another cause of resistance while unfurling the genoa can be a twisted spi halyard!
  • Always operate the furling system cautiously and do not use winches as an aid!
  • While furling the genoa keep the sheet hauled to avoid its tangling.
  1. Genoa trim
  • While sailing, from time to time check the lower leech twist of the genoa!
  • A furling genoa always requires precise trimming. The bigger the sail area, the further the towing point must be moved astern and vice versa.
  • At upwind performance the ideal towing point of the sail is when its foot edge and lower leech are at about the same tension. The sheet angle in profile should roughly split the clew angle.
  • Because of the particular cut of a furling genoa as opposed to regular genoas, the wind fills the genoa spilling out of it over the leech of the sail.

Solution: Instead of overhauling the sheet, which acts as a brake to a sailboat, move the genoa sheet traveller (and so the towing point) forward.

  • An optimial trim spares the sails and makes the vessel sail faster.
  1. Gennaker

Before hoisting and striking the gennaker remember to clear the spinnaker halyard, keep it off the forestay, avoid ist wrapping.

If the halyard is wrapped, it may get cut when setting or furling the genoa.

Gennaker is a light wind sail, so inexperienced crews should not use it if the wind speed exceeds 10 knots.

  1. Sail area
  • Always adjust the sail area to the weather. More sail does not necessarily mean more speed. Sometimes the opposite is the case.
  • Reef on time when you observe the weather changing.
  • Damages to the sail often occur due to an oversized sail area.
  1. Winches
  • Put 4 wraps around the winch to provide adequate friction to the winch drum and put less pressure on the handle, to avoid its breaking.
  • Attention: Watch your fingers when wrapping the sheet around the winch. Try to keep your fingers off the winch to avoid injury, which is likely to happen if another crew member starts grinding.

Pointing this out to your crew members is crucial! Crushed fingers are frequent accidents aboard a vessel.

  1. Autopilot
  • Autopilot is of most use when you keep on course for a longer time, with the engine running (e.g. during calm).
  • Attention with sails: In case of strong pressure on the rudder and strong waves, the autopilot may have problems with constant course corrections and get damaged!
  • In case of downwind bearings however, the autopilot may actually do better than a helmsman.
  1. Chartplotter
  • The chartplotter is NOT a nautical chart, even though many are convinced of it. It is just an aid and its indications might be inaccurate.
  • Damages caused by navigating without a nautical chart can get rejected by the insurer.
  1. Seacocks and hatches
  • Keep the seacocks and hatches closed during the cruise!
  • This way dangerous water penetration can be avoided.
  • Don not step on the hatches. Heavy weight may make them groan and become leaky, or even break down.
  • Attention: If the hatch is only lowered and laid upon the locking lever, a short, strong thrust may bend or even break off the levers!
  • Do not leave the hatches half-open, resting upon locked levers. Make sure the lever is unlocked if the hatch is open, and lock it if you want to close the hatch.
  1. Marine toilet

During yacht takeover let someone demonstrate flawless functioning oft he toilets and pump once through every toilet. A recurring problem at sea are clogged toilets. This is especially unpleasant if it was caused by the previous crew. This problem can be solved with the milk test. Pour some milk into the toilet and pump it through. Looking overboard you can observe whether the toilet has been properly emptied.

  • Open the seacock before every use and close it afterwards!
  • Before every use, pump through the pipe.
  • Once used the toilet, pump at least 15 to 20 times in order to make sure that no residues remain in the pump or at the valves.
  • Never dump paper or any solid objects into the marine toilet!
  1. Water tank – diesel tank
  • Attention: Make sure which tank you are filling – water or diesel! It is a very common mistake to take one for another.
  • Resulting costs are NOT covered by any insurance.
  1. Dinghy
  • Handle the dinghy with care!
  • Never tow the dinghy, strong traction can rip off its brackets or ropes.
  • If you are manouvreing withe the yacht at low speed (e.g. in marinas) never tow the dinghy with the outboard engine fixed to it.
  • Never pull the dinghy over rocks or stony beaches (danger of damage).
  1. Harbour manoeuvres
  • Keep off other yachts or jetties only with a fender! Pushing off the hulls of other vessels with hands or feet is very dangerous as the risk of getting squeezed is involved, and should therefore be avoided.
  • Never push off the guard rails or rail stanchions, strong pressure may make them bend.
  • Bent stanchions may cause water penetration.
  • Make sure you specifically point this out during crew briefing!
  • Be careful while mooring. This is where most damages occur.
  1. Sailing
  • At the base, get informed about shoals and other dangerous zones before starting the trip, to avoid running aground.
  • Note hints in the nautical chart.
  • Identify safe anchorages and different types of seabed.
  • Pay attention to possible damages to the hull, including its sides, during ALL manoeuvres.
  • Be careful when entering the harbour and during departure!
  1. Footwear aboard
  • Appropriate boat footwear has a finely treaded, light rubber sole.
  • Dark rubber soles are inappropriate, as they can leave dark marks on deck.
  • Leather soles and heels should be avoided for your own safety.
  • Tiny stones can get caught in coarsely treaded soles, which may damage the floors of the deck and bunks.

YACHT-POOL wishes you a pleasant and safe trip, and may there always be enough water beneath your keel!