Saturday, 12 March 2011

Insurer offers advice for re launching boats

Navigators & General (N&G) together with River Canal Rescue (RCR) is reminding boat owners to carry out a number of simple and straightforward checks before they get back on the water to avoid common claims.

“RCR have found over many years of attending breakdown and emergencies that conducting maintenance checks before starting off on a cruise will reduce the risk of damage to the boat and possible injuries. There is a substantial risk that you will breakdown on your first run out, and therefore it is essential that you do your best to prevent this occurring as if something major occurs remember that insurance cannot compensate for lack of maintenance and will not cover damage caused as a result of wear and tear.” Stephanie Horton MD RCR

N&G generally sees an increase in claims notifications over March and April as boats are launched, or when owners return to find their boats have suffered damage or theft during the winter. The increased risk frost damage to pipes, water systems and engines this year are likely to have caused more undetected damage that may go un detected until too late.

Carrying out a number of simple pre-launch checks, and ensuring there is good communication with the yard or launching company can significantly help reduce the risk of potential accidents, breakdowns or worse still, sinking. Wherever possible, it is advisable for the owner to be present when the boat is launched to monitor the vessel for any unusual water ingress for at least a couple of hours after settling

These types of checks are particularly important after a harsh winter where skin fittings, pipes, engines and water/cooling systems may have been damaged or dislodged by ice. Pipes split by ice can slowly leak once submersed below the waterline often leading to sinking if not spotted. N&G have seen a number of sinking claims caused by something as simple as failing to replace a through hull fitting or re-attach an internal hose. 

Even the experienced boat owner is still at risk from complacency. Taking a small amount of time to routinely go through a number of pre season checks can prove very worthwhile.

To avoid problems, Navigators & General and RCR recommend the following:
  • check all water carrying pipes for splits or leaks 
  • have a yearly pre-season machinery maintenance check, by a boat engineer (RCR Engine inspection) 
  • do not start engines until all basic checks have been completed, including opening raw water sea cocks 
  • check fuel or gas lines and cables for wear & tear and deterioration 
  • check bilges and ensure bilge pumps are working – if water found check gearbox for contamination and locate leak. 
  • check all hoses, skin fittings, through hull fittings & hose clips 
  • have your engine serviced prior to use, and treat fuel with a treatment for water contamination and diesel bug with products similar to Marine 16. 
  • check Morse controller and steering controls to ensure free movement 

Common problems include:
  • flooring, steps and handles not being properly re-attached after servicing, which can lead to injury 
  • split pipes that only show themselves hours after a boat is underway 
  • through hull fittings not being replaced or hoses not properly re-connected, 
  • which can lead to sinking 
  • not checking engines are fully re-commissioned, which can let you down at a crucial moment or be damaged when started 
  • blocked filters and contaminated fuel due to lack of servicing and standing for long periods resulting in engine failure at crucial moments. 
  • water in gearboxes, due to being semi submerged or oil cooler leaking, causing potential failure and damage. 
“Whilst it is tempting to get out on the water at the first sign of a good spring day, spending time on these simple pre-season checks will be time well-spent as the rain, damp and storms over the winter can cause wear and tear to a boat and equipment. It’s also key to ensure there is no misunderstanding about who is to complete the maintenance and prepare the boat for launch – be it the boat owner or the boat yard or a third party. ” said James Roberts Head of Navigators & General