“If it ain’t broke don’t fix it” might seem like a wise old saw, but it's one Oyster After Sales expert Eddie Scougall suggests you consider carefully before you decide not to maintain your yacht properly. With comprehensive knowledge of Oyster bluewater sailing yachts that is second to none, he shares his top tips to keep your Oyster shipshape for your next adventure.
Maintenance is an ongoing task and, for a yacht owner, it should be second nature. Understanding how your yacht works and the individual parts that may cause you issues if they’re not looked after is fundamental to safe and enjoyable sailing, whether you’re cruising around your local coastline or setting off to sail around the world.
Eddie also suggests you don’t fall for the idea that “If it’s new, it doesn’t need maintenance, if it’s old it’s too late.” This is important everyday stuff – from deck checks to hourly engine room checks while you’re under engine power. Even a quick look at stress points, like the gooseneck and vang when you’re on deck, can make the difference between deep happiness and deep trouble. So take a tip from Eddie and put the following items on your priority list:
If you’re not afloat, everything else is irrelevant. If the hull isn’t watertight with seacock and other penetrations in good order, you have a problem that needs urgent attention. If you’re at sea, ask for help while you’re still above water and can transmit.
The most important tip: check all your bilge pumps are in good working order before putting to sea.
This is often overlooked until something goes wrong: it is the most important mechanical assembly aboard. Your rig and engine may be in good condition, but if you can’t steer, you’re bobbing not sailing. While all Oyster yachts are equipped with emergency steering (and in the worst case, you might be able to jury a crude system) it’s best to avoid this predicament.
Get to know the anatomy of your steering system, how it works and, as well as staying on top of manufacturer-recommended maintenance, check it regularly. The loss of a simple split pin could put you and your vessel at significant risk. Make sure your crew and guests know how to fit the emergency steering too – this should be part of your safety briefing.
Since you are a sailing yacht, the sails are your primary source of drive. Wind is free and limitless - sometimes there can be an awful lot, sometimes very little but, what do you expect for free?
Modern rigs have many moving parts – sheaves, winches, jammers, halyard swivels, track cars, foils, bearings, gearboxes, hydraulics, the list goes on. Yet the most important parts – the spars including all its attachments and standing rigging – don’t move. If any part of these fail, the rest is useless. And the risk of injury to the crew is obvious.
Regular inspection of your rig and sails is vital and should be made at the end of each significant passage or a least monthly, whichever comes first. A rig inspection just before you leave is better than no rig inspection at all. But if you find an issue, this will delay your planned departure. Make sure your rig is inspected and retuned at least annually by a professional rigger.
Damage to your sails should be repaired immediately. Even the smallest tear or loss of stitching can rapidly develop into a major crisis. Book a full valet and repair by a reputable sailmaker at least once a year.
Get to know your charging system inside-out, along with the theory of battery charging, power management and distribution around your yacht. Almost all other systems aboard depend on the ability to charge and maintain your batteries, without them communications, navigation, fresh water, even flushing the toilets will be lost.
There is a huge amount of information and advice already aboard in supplier manuals and in the Oyster Owner’s Manual. There are also many excellent nautical publications available to enhance your maintenance knowledge and skills.
Boat Owner’s Mechanical and Electrical Manual – Nigel Calder
The Boat Maintenance Bible – Alard Coles
Both are available from Oyster After Sales, along with many other useful nautical publications and charts.
People often ask what is the greatest danger at sea? The answer is complacency. Educate yourself and stay ahead. Good, proactive maintenance goes hand-in-hand with good seamanship and will save you time, unnecessary costs and inconvenience.
Our aftersales services and support are available to all Oyster owners, regardless of the age of their yacht. In addition to our Aftersales headquarters in UK, the network extends to Oyster Palma in Europe and Oyster USA in Newport, Rhode Island where our teams are on the ground ready to assist. We hold files for every Oyster yacht ever built, including those that are over 20 years old. We also hold a supply of stock for many parts. So, be it a new rig or a simple hinge for a door, we can locate the precise item and ship it anywhere in the world.
Find out more or email specific questions by using the links below.
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