Getting The Best Of Repairs
By Caroline Ajootian
Let’s be honest, breakdowns and must-do repairs are a matter of when, not if. Being prepared helps,
and the BoatU.S. Consumer Protection Bureau has tips for making the experience less stressful
egardless of how adept you are
at routine repairs and maintenance work, the time will
come when you need the services of a marine mechanic
or carpenter. Don’t wait for a
breakdown! The best time to find a good
technician is before an emergency occurs.
If your boat and engine are still covered by the manufacturers’ warranties, your
local dealer will be your first stop. Even if
the problem isn’t covered by warranty, it’s a
good idea to discuss the problem with the
dealer because work done by a non-dealer
might void the warranty. If warranties aren’t
an issue, ask boat-owning friends or consult with a local marine surveyor to get
recommendations for a carpenter, marine
electrician, and engine mechanic. A repair
shop with a mobile unit will make life
easier if your boat can’t be moved from its
berth. Talk with the technician beforehand
to get an idea of labor rates, travel charges,
and other considerations.
When There’s A Problem
To keep your sanity and checkbook
reasonably intact, keep in mind the fol-
If your budget is tight, make this clear
before the job begins. The shop may be
able to suggest ways to complete the proj-
ect in stages.
Get a written estimate before work
begins. Even so, an estimate is only an
approximation of how much repairs will
cost if unforeseen problems crop up later.
Ask for a target completion date and
write this into your work order.
Ask if the repair shop will warrant its
work — there’s no requirement that they
do — and get a clear explanation of what
this entails; 30- or 60-day guarantees are
the norm and may only cover parts, not
When tackling large jobs, boat repair
shops often require payments at various
stages of the project. Be sure to verify that
each stage has been completed before
paying. If you can’t be on hand yourself,
consider hiring a marine surveyor to make
Ask the shop to obtain your authorization before proceeding with unforeseen
repairs or when work goes beyond the estimated price. Ask to have old or damaged
parts returned to you.
When Things Go Awry ...
Before you pay the repair bill, inspect
and, if necessary, sea-trial your boat or
engine. Reporting problems immediately
will make it easier to get the shop to take
responsibility and correct them.
Rely on a marine surveyor for a second
opinion if you’re unhappy about workmanship or how repairs were made. Contact
the manufacturer for assistance when warranty repairs are faulty.
If the shop refuses to cooperate, file
a clear, written complaint with the shop,
and keep all invoices to document your
Most boatyards and marinas require
payment in full for repairs before boats