Refit and Repair Project: Conduct, Confer & Concur

By RMK Merrill-Stevens Shipyard

Keep in mind the 3 c’s when considering your next refit and repair: conduct, confer and concur:

Accomplishing a refit on-time and on-budget requires the captain/vessel representative, owner, and yard to be well aligned on the scope of work. Be it a periodic maintenance or an extensive refit and repair that involve mechanical, electrical, piping/valves, hydraulic, paint,  joinery, fabrication, or interior, each job/task must be carefully defined to ensure the work can be performed to meet all expectations.

Generally the Captain and Crew remain occupied with running an exceptionally-busy yacht with a demanding schedule. There is often insufficient opportunity for comprehensive planning of a refit or major maintenance let alone creating a consensus around a large project. The out-of-service time of the yacht is meant to be minimized and all stakeholders want the project to get going the moment the vessel arrives at the yard.

A pre-refit inspection is a vital part of starting the alignment process. Shortly after the yard conducts a pre-refit vessel inspection, crew, project managers and vessels rep discuss the findings and prepare the best approach to achieve the desired results. The customer “wish list” and report of findings from inspection should be consolidated and used as a guide for the estimate/quote process. 

When considering your next refit and repair: conduct, confer and concur. First conduct a pre-refit vessel inspection. Secondly, confer on the finding of the pre-refit inspection. And thirdly, concur on a report based on the findings of the pre-refit inspection.


About RMK Merrill-Stevens Shipyard Services:

  • RMK Merrill-Stevens is the oldest ship and yacht repair company in Florida, established in 1885
  • RMK Merrill-Stevens is under new ownership and new management
  • Open to outside contractors and providing on-site trades for welding/fabrication, paint and refinishing, fiberglass/gelcoat, mechanical & electrical etc.
  • 70T travel lift capable of hauling vessels up to approx.. 75’
  • 500T travel lift capable of hauling vessels up to approx. 160’
  • Coming Soon: 2,700T shiplift capable of hauling vessels up to approx. 235’
  • On-site storage, work-shops, captain and vessel manager offices
  • Covered berths available
  • Transient berths available
  • Hurricane storage available
  • Located near Miami international airport and Biscayne Bay

** Call today to find out about great low summer rates for maintenance, repair and refit! To learn more, click here: RMK Merrill-Stevens Shipyard

Android Release & Coverage Expansion

Mariner Exchange, a mobile app that connects boat owners with marine service providers, has released its Android app and expanded coverage from the Chesapeake Bay to Florida and New England. 

Boat owners can now browse over 3,000 marine service providers to find mechanical, electrical, structural, and many other services. In addition, the platform has just surpassed 10,000 users and plans to continue its expansion up and down the east coast in the coming months.

“Maintaining your boat can be a huge pain and finding the right mechanic seems impossible at times. Our mission at Mariner Exchange is to make owning a boat easy by seamlessly connecting boat owners with reliable boat repair professionals. We’re very excited that Mariner Exchange is quickly becoming the go-to online hub to get your boat fixed,” says Alex Nicholson, founder of Mariner Exchange.

Mariner Exchange launched its iOS app in July 2016 and quickly expanded to cover the Chesapeake Bay region. Nicholson grew up working in the industry in the service department of Annapolis, MD-based Fawcett Boat Supplies where he first noticed the difficulties boaters had finding repair professionals. The marine services industry is hyper-fragmented and has a limited online presence. Mariner Exchange has positioned itself to remedy that problem. Mariner Exchange also offers service providers lead-generation metrics so they know exactly how many calls, emails, and website hits they get over the platform.

Businesses who would like to be listed on Mariner Exchange can submit their company information at or they can download the service provider app and create a company profile.

Ready to Winterize?

Fall Lay-Up

By Don Casey

Nothing is harder on your boat than neglect, and neglect is exactly what recreational boats are subjected to when cold weather settles in. But proper lay-up techniques can minimize the ill effects winter disuse will have on your boat.

A prime objective of lay-up is to prepare your boat for the inevitability of freezing conditions. Fluids must be removed or protected, and nothing should be aboard that might be damaged by low temperatures.

Prepare a Checklist

The most important tool for properly winterizing your boat is a pencil. Unless you prepare a comprehensive checklist — and follow it — chances are good that you will miss a step or two. Spending a few minutes now tailoring the generic checklist below to your specific requirements will next spring save you hours of dealing with the consequences of an oversight.

  • Empty lockers of perishables
    Also take off any cans or bottles containing liquids that could freeze.
  • Freezeproof the toilet
    Every toilet I have ever removed has dumped water (I hope) on the cabin sole when turned sideways to pass through the head door, so pumping a toilet "dry" may prove inadequate. Disconnect the inlet hose from the closed seacock and submerge it in a 50-50 mix of water and propylene glycol antifreeze. Operate the head until you are sure the antifreeze has passed through the toilet and all lines.

If you have an onboard sewage treatment system, follow the manufacturer's instructions for winterizing.

NOTE: For all pump, tank, and hose winterizing, use only non-toxic propylene glycol antifreeze. Never use the ethylene glycol type — common automotive antifreeze — which is poisonous.

  • Pump out the holding tank
    If the holding tank was empty and clean when you treated the toilet, you can leave the antifreeze mix in the tank, but an empty tank is better.
  • Empty all freshwater tanks
    Antifreeze is not practical because a 50-50 solution is required, and you then have to empty the tanks in the spring anyway. Remember that the pump pickup is above the bottom, so you will have to pump or sponge the tank dry through the clean-out port. This is a good time to wipe down the interior of the tank with a chlorine solution.
  • Drain the water heater
    If your water heater has an electrical element, electrically disconnect the heater before you drain it. Because the element will burn out unless submerged, attach a tag to the electrical connection to remind you to refill the tank before restoring the connection.
  • Drain or protect pumps and hoses
    Even though you are going to drain pumps and hoses, it is advisable to pump a 50-50 antifreeze solution through them to protect pockets or low spots that could be harboring residual water. If your boat is fitted with a water heater — now empty — bypass it (by disconnecting inlet and outlet hoses and connecting them together) so the antifreeze reaches the hot-water side of your plumbing.

NOTE:For uncomplicated water delivery configurations, draining — without the antifreeze treatment — ill be adequate as long as you make sure no water remains in pumps or low spots in hoses.

  • Drain the accumulator
    Water doesn't actually flow through your accumulator tank, so pumping antifreeze through the lines puts very little into the accumulator — like pouring more water into a full jug. If it doesn't drain when you remove the hoses, blow through the T connector, or dismount the tank and shake it empty.
  • Protect refrigeration and air-conditioning condensers
    Internal loops in the water passages typically prevent complete drainage, so disconnect the raw-water connection from the closed seacock and submerge it in a 50-50 antifreeze mix. Run the system to force the antifreeze through the pump and all lines. Drain.
  • Drain baitwell and/or washdown pumps and hoses
    Check valves can prevent the lines from draining completely, so you may need to disconnect hoses at both ends. Baitwell tanks must, of course, be empty.
  • Empty shower sumps
    Don't expect the pump to leave the shower sump dry. You will need to release the sump and pour it empty or sponge the sump dry.
  • Empty propane lines
    Light a burner on the galley stove — and any other gas appliances — then turn off the manual valve on the propane tank(s). When the burner(s) goes out, close it and flip the solenoid switch to off.
  • Remove sails and canvas
    Exposing awnings and sails to winter storms — even folded or furled — definitely shortens and too often terminates their lives.
  • Lubricate furling systems
    If your furling system requires lubrication, this is the time to do it.
  • Service winches
    If you do this in the fall, you will know that the internal components are well protected from corrosion for the winter, and the winches will be ready for service in the spring without further attention.
  • Remove electronics
    Spending winters in a warm, dry place prolongs the life of your electronics. Taking them off the boat also eliminates the risk of theft. Spray the open connectors with a moisture-displacing lubricant to protect the contacts from the formation of corrosion. Extract the log impeller and replace it with the plug.
  • Protect batteries
    If wet-cell batteries are allowed to discharge the electrolyte becomes pure water, which will freeze and ruin the battery. On small boats, bring batteries to a fully charged condition, then remove them from the boat and store in a dry, cool (not frigid) location. Wash and thoroughly dry the tops of stored batteries to reduce the potential for self-discharge. Do not leave stored batteries connected to a portable charger. Unless the charger turns off completely — few do — the batteries will suffer damage. However, stored batteries should be brought to full charge once a month, so post yourself a reminder.

    If the batteries will be stored aboard because they are too heavy for convenient removal, they must be maintained in a full charge condition all winter. This requires a charger with a "float" stage and power connection. In lieu of an unattended power connection, a solar panel might be employed to counter self discharge.

  • Winterize the engine
    A helpful checklist for this essential component of fall lay-up is available as a separate Don Casey Library How To article.
  • Fill or empty integral fuel tanks
    As a rule integral fuel tanks should be stored 95% full. This minimizes the air space inside the tank which limits the potential for internal condensation to add water to the fuel. Add a dose of stabilizer to the fuel. Close the shut-off valve in the supply line if your boat has one.
  • Scrub the exterior
    Flushing salt residue from hardware and rigging reduces the potential for corrosion. Also grime left on fiberglass or painted surfaces until spring will be that much harder to remove.
  • Touch up brightwork
    Do not leave damaged spots bare all winter.
  • Wax fiberglass surfaces
    A light coat of soft wax will protect the fiberglass from dirt and moisture. There is no need to buff it until spring
  • Empty the bilge
    Bilge pumps typically fail to remove all water from the bilge. Any that remains will freeze. Pump and sponge the bilge completely dry.
  • Open drain plug
    Trailerable boats should be stored with the drain plug removed and the bow elevated so precipitation that finds its way inside the boat will drain out. Sailboats are sometimes fitted with a garboard drain plug to serve the same function when wintering ashore. Remove the plug and tag it conspicuously so you cannot forget to reinstall it in the spring.
  • Close all seacocks except cockpit drains
    If the boat is hauled, lubricate and exercise the seacocks — all of them — before closing them for the winter. Out of the water an open seacock still admits moisture, frigid air, and perhaps vermin, so close them.
  • Vacuum, clean, and polish
    Dirt and grease promote the growth of mold and mildew. Vacuum cushions, clean cabinet interiors, and damp-wipe all hard surfaces. Scrub the interior of refrigerators or ice chests with a mild chlorine solution. Place an open box of baking soda inside and leave the lid open or off.
  • Prop up cushions
    Air circulation to all sides of cushions is essential. Better still, remove all loose cushions from the boat entirely and store them somewhere warm and dry for the winter. This also applies to other fabric items aboard, like linens, blankets, and PFDs.
  • Open lockers and drawers and hatches
    Adequate air circulation is the best way of combating mildew. Latch-hooks can be employed to hold cabin and locker doors slightly ajar. Prop bilge access and other compartment hatches open. Hanging a mildew control bag in the cabin is a good precaution. Some boaters also place tubs of moisture absorber around the cabin.
  • Cover
    A canvas or shrink-wrap winter cover doesn't just keep precipitation out of the boat's interior, it also protects the deck. In the winter, moisture between hardware and the deck or in minute cracks in the gelcoat repeatedly freezes, jacking the cracks wider with each cycle.
    Canvas covers and tarps should be padded to prevent chafe, well secured to resist buffeting, and well ventilated to allow the circulation of air beneath the cover.

Don Casey has been one of the most consulted experts on boat care and upgrades for 30 years, and is one of the BoatUS Magazine's panel of experts. He and his wife cruise aboard their 30-footer part of the year in the eastern Caribbean. His books include Don Casey's Complete Illustrated Sailboat Maintenance Manual, and the recently updated This Old Boat, the bible for do-it-yourself boaters.

Benefits of USCG Documentation

By Ocean Yacht Documentation

I am often asked, “What are the benefits of U.S. Coast Guard Documentation?” First, keep in mind that to be eligible for U.S. Coast Guard Documentation, a vessel must be at least five net tons in volume (usually about 26 feet and longer) and be owned by a U.S. citizen. The seven benefits include:

  1. A documented vessel designates it as U.S. flagged and is recognized internationally which facilitates entry to foreign ports.
  2. A documented vessel is granted greater protection under federal laws if under distress in foreign waters.
  3. The vessel is awarded an official number as a unique identifier which transfers with the vessel and facilitates tracking in case of distress or if the boat is stolen.
  4. A documented vessel is easy to check for pending liens and to review the complete chain of ownership from the first documented owner to the current owner. This aids in the resale of the vessel, and it offers the purchaser a greater level of assurance not offered by state title.
  5. The documented vessel doesn’t need to display the state numbers on the bow of the boat as required when state titled.
  6. A marine lender may require application for a Certificate of Documentation as a prerequisite for extending a loan along with the filing of a First Preferred Ships Mortgage, as it is the highest form of securing the lender’s security interest.
  7. U.S. Coast Guard documentation may be required for those engaged in commercial trade (i.e. carrying freight, commercial fishing, chartering). Typically a Coastwise or Fishery endorsement is required. Restrictions apply.

Tips for a Healthy Hull

By Anne Arundel Dive Services

1. While your boat is out and getting painted, put an extra 1 or 2 coats (1' wide) at the waterline. This is where paint wears the fastest, especially ablative paint.  

2. While your boat is out, use some kind of antifouling on your running gear (prop, shaft, trims, bow thruster, any underwater metal surfaces). 

This is especially important with IOs (inboard/outboards) whose tiny intakes get clogged fast with this Chesapeake algae.

My preference is PropSpeed, but any zinc paint or antifouling paint should work fine. Important note, let any service provider (diver or otherwise) know your props have been treated and to use your hand first to try to clean. Always use the least aggressive method in which to clean. 

3. If these symptoms occur, call a diver: Higher RPMs to get to speed or no movement, engine overheat, HVAC (CruisAir) not dispensing water, rudder is not responding (difficult turning/reversing), racing sailboat coming in 8th place instead of 1st (slimy, slow hull), lower fuel efficiency (more time spent at the fuel dock than enjoying your boat)

4. Always replace your zincs before launching the boat. Regardless of how good they still look, it's a good idea to baseline your zincs. They have a tendency to wear unevenly. Uneven wear on a shaft zinc can cause vibration at certain RPMs. Finally, have a diver check your zincs a couple times each season to make sure they haven't been eaten by stray current.