January and February have traditionally been months when boating is on the back burner and yachts and motorboats are either ashore or laid up afloat. Not forgotten or ignored, but just not attended to.

How things have changed over the years! The winters are warmer, and the clothing has improved to such an extent that winter sailing is always on the cards so it’s a time when anchorages are not full, and the wildlife is prevalent. The seals in Newtown are interesting to observe but be aware: having personally anchored close to them once, I was kept awake by the noise of them snoring!


The boat always needs maintenance. While the weather is not always perfect, a little inside work is a good idea and now is the time to tackle these jobs before the boat is in full use.

The engine is probably the most important piece of machinery on your boat, so it is a good idea to start here and get it out of the way. At the end of the season if the oil was not changed, do it now and change the oil filter. Water is the greatest enemy of diesel fuel injection components, and once it enters the fuel system it will rapidly wear and oxidise steel components, leading to rusting, corrosion, wear, and seizure. The space between the fuel and the water is also a breeding ground for the diesel bug, a bacterial formation that contaminates the fuel by producing waste, usually evident as black or dark lumps.

Fitting a filter

In my own boat, I am fitting yet another filter between the tank and the first primary filter. This is a cheap £3.00 see-through filter, similar to those found on the warm-air heaters. The idea being that I can see if it starts to blacken up with the sludge or diesel bug before it gets to the engine. These are quick, simple and cheap to replace and could save the day. This diesel bug can drop to the bottom of the tank or be suspended in the fuel. Either way it could clog up the filters and lead to expensive damage. It can be treated and rectified by additives or filtration.

Replace the antifreeze and flush the cooling system. Check and replace the batteries as necessary. Start the engine to test that it is running smoothly, running it in gear to full operating temperature. Test out the bilge pump after making sure that there is no oil in the bilges.

Check that the pump works, and that the filters are free from blockages. Inspect terminal blocks and connections for corrosion.

Electrical systems

Marine electrical systems are always a good subject to discuss, but are way beyond my intellect. It seems that they always start off well from the builder but over the years they develop add-ons. They gain new gadgets fitted to bits of red wires and earthed to anything black that doesn’t move. 

During the refit of my own boat, a six-month job that has lasted two years, I ran flexible copper wire coated in tin in two sizes, 2.5mm and 1.5mm. It seems the breakdown in electrics tends to be at the ends, where they join the unit and the power supply. These were heat sealed and covered in heat shrinking covers. At this point I handed over to a professional (Cameron Springthorpe who can be contacted on Team@YourSkipper.co.uk, website: www.yourskipper.co.uk). He turned the electrical locker – which looked like a mass of black spaghetti – into an orderly well-labelled arrangement. It looks amazing, and fault finding is now easier and well-organised electrics is a good selling point.

The Waypoint Brokerage has not stopped, with boats of all sizes and shapes finding new owners.

Although Waypoint is still adding to the boats on our listings, we could always do with more.

If you are looking to sell your motorboat or yacht, then give Waypoint Yacht Brokers a call on 01983 200785.

We are always happy to chat about all things ‘boating’.

Nick Ward is a yacht broker with Waypoint Yacht Brokers. They have offices in Yarmouth and The Folly (Whippingham) and deal in all types of craft.

January and February have traditionally been months when boating is put on the back burner.