Jan 11, 2018

Contractors HelmWith marina and yacht club parking lots full of boats, tarps laid, water tanks drained, and only a few brave souls to be seen – now is the time to take stock of the successes and shortcomings of the past boating season. Sputtering engines, leaking windows, ripped dodgers and luffing sails all may need attending to, while the newest self-tailing winch or chartplotter may whisper louder in your ear than a siren’s call. Then, it’s time for your hopes and dreams for 2018.

Where to start?

This is the time to make a list of necessary repairs – problems, failures and general maintenance items, while also considering upgrades and wish-list items. With boat-show season upon us, now is the time to make a firm list of needs and wants.

Contractors Booth

With list in hand, its time to start budgeting. Try prioritizing into columns: Safety – the essentials to keep the boat and passengers safe – fresh PFDs, flares, emergency equipment Movement – engines, controls, hardware and sails – getting from point A to point B, Comfort – items needed to stay warm, dry, comfortable and fed, Cool – the newest gadget, earning envious stares. With a prioritized list, you can decide how much of what you can afford in each of these areas. Check for deals at the show.

The Internet is a great way to compare prices of products. It’s more difficult to do this with contractors, services and repairs/installation. This is where the fun begins in finding, qualifying, comparing and selecting a contractor or service provider.

Internet searches, club/marina notice boards, referrals from members/friends and recommendations from insurance companies or OEM dealers/manufacturers are the most common ways to track down reputable contractors. Do a bit of digging and check out web presence (does the contractor have a website?), online reviews, and social media presence. A reputable company will have a presence online, with reviews (good or bad) to support their marketing.

Qualifying is the process through which you’ll determine which are right for you. Ask any potential contractors for referrals. Ask if they’ve done this type of work before, on your type of boat. Ask what process they’ll take to complete the work. Ask for photos of past work. Ask the contractor for a written quote, and ask about deposits, warranties and insurance coverage in case things go awry. Finally, ask about price, and the payment methods that the contractor will accept.

Compare qualified contractors in an ‘apples to apples’ fashion: the type of work the contractor is capable of performing, the finished result, the speed/efficiency of work (if timelines are tight), the warranty/insurance coverage offered, and the rate or price should all be considered and evaluated.

Finally, choose the contractor that is right for you; that you feel comfortable can perform the work that you need to have done, with an end result that will be what you’re after.

Boat Shows are a great place to do it all: see suppliers, contractors, insurance companies and dealers all in one place at one time. Ask questions, compare and get a feel for similarities and differences. Take lots of brochures and business cards. Join mailing lists or email list-serves with companies that interest you – and follow-up so that you’re not lost in the spring rush (which, I’m delighted to report, is just around the corner).

Happy Boating!



Ask AndrewAndrew McDonald is the owner of Lakeside Marine Services – a boat repair/maintenance firm based in Toronto. Andrew has worked in the marine industry for 12 years and is a graduate of the Georgian College ‘Mechanical Techniques - Marine Engine Mechanic’ program.

Questions or comments for Andrew? Email him directly via: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.