Selecting a Boatyard for Your Winter Project – Doing your homework is a critical first step

13th October 2021

This is the time of year when boater’s thoughts turn to decommissioning, maintenance, modification projects, or perhaps the next summer’s extended cruise. Some of these activities may require yarding the vessel for a portion of the winter or early spring. When in the market for a boatyard, choosing the right one can be among the momentous decisions of boat ownership. But in many cases, it’s not given nearly enough thought, considering the consequences.


How a boatyard blocks and jacks a boat is and indicator of concern for custom’s boat and safety.


Choose the right yard and a season of reliable cruising is nearly guaranteed. Choose the wrong yard, however, and your all-too-short season may be hampered by mechanical failures and frustration.

“Word of mouth” is by far the most useful criterion when choosing a repair facility. Consult fellow boaters on the dock or at the local yacht club who have boats of a similar style, vintage, fit, and finish as your own.

Determine which yards are “authorized manufacture repair facilities” for your boat. To find these boatyards check the manufactures website.

Once a preliminary list has been compiled from this research, the real work begins. If you are a do-it-yourselfer (DIY), no doubt some of the candidates will fall by the wayside. Many yards frown on DIY. Determine what the yard’s rules are and all other critical information from a yard manager.

Also, determine what the yard’s policy is concerning subcontractors. If Jim, the mechanic, has been working on your boat’s diesel since the day you bought it, will he still be able to service it?


Determine what the yard’s policy is concerning subcontractors.


Is the facility large enough and diversified enough to take on the full range of jobs you may need completed? Inside work facilities, while not a prerequisite, often enable yards to better meet schedule deadlines.  Weather related work delays become less a factor.


What kind of boats does the yard service?



The general condition and cleanliness of the yard, equipment, and staff is an important window to the inner workings of the organization.


The general condition and cleanliness of the yard is window to the inner workings of the yard.


A paved yard is a plus when the maintenance includes topside bottom painting: paint and dust from a gravel yard doesn’t mix.


A paved yard is a plus.


How a boatyard blocks and jack stand a boat in the yard is indicators of the yard’s attention to detail and concern for the customer’s boat and yard safety.

The labor rate, while important, should never be the primary or sole determining factor in choosing a boat yard. The labor rate can be a result of the location. Metropolitan areas are usually quite expensive to do business in and it takes money to keep skilled craftsmen and technicians.



Once armed with knowledge, your chances increase for selecting the right boatyard for your projects.


(Deane Hislop in partnership with Freedom Marine)