How to get your tender ready for the season and minimise future breakdowns

Offered By EAMS Yacht Tender Center

Given the importance of looking after your tender, particularly before and during the season, it’s vital you know what you should and shouldn’t do in terms of maintenance. At EAMS Yacht Tender Center we know a thing or two about best practice and what you need to look out for, so we thought we would put together a handy, non-technical guide that is easy to follow.

Taking care of inboard engines

If your engine is a few years old, we recommend removing the engine from the engine bay. It’s only a few hours’ labour, and time may well be saved by easy access to all the mechanical parts that you cannot see or access when the engine is in place. Most tenders have really restricted access to the engine.

An inboard engine's alternator.

Having the engine out, you can check the starter motor and alternator which is likely to be the first failure during the season. The starter motors are usually situated behind heat exchangers, low down in the bilge. In this position they are exposed to corrosion by water. Also check for any corrosion on the oil sump casing. You can get access to all the cooling parts easily (heat exchangers, pipes, etc.) while you have the engine out. Checking the heat exchangers is very easy and will guarantee a good cooling circuit for the whole season.

Don’t forget to change the thermostat and seals, as well as the sea water rubber impeller. All these parts are inexpensive but if you break down during the season, the inconvenience and the repair costs will rise dramatically. As is standard practice, change all the common service parts: oil filter and engine oil, air filter, fuel filter, check sea water strainer, belts, belt tensioner, timing belt and thermostat.

Meanwhile access to all hydraulic hoses and connections is easy, so it’s important you take the time to make sure you don’t have any corroded pipes as they could break later.

When the engine is out, it’s vital to check the dumper. This part is not often controlled but breaks frequently, resulting in vibrations and bearing problems. If you have a transmission shaft, check the coupling and check the roll bearings on the union (these are very often corroded due to the low position of the transmission shaft in the bilge). At this point it’s also worth evaluating any potential corrosion of the transmission shaft.

On a stern drive tender you need to remove the leg in order to be able to remove the engine, so before you put the engine back in place, check the transom bearing, check the bellow, check the corrosion (if any) of the transom plate and the play on the pivot. Most of the stern drives need a full service every 100 hours. Most tenders are used as taxis meaning they are shifting forward/reversing a lot. This hard use generates loss of strength on the sliding cone and pignons and definitely needs to be serviced every 100 hours.


Other types of leg like YANMAR ZT 370 (hydraulic type) have filters inside the leg. It is very important to change these filters and oil as recommended by the manufacturers or you will burn the leg very quickly. This problem will be a very expensive breakdown during the season and won’t be solved within a couple of days, necessitating the rental of a tender – and as the yacht is moving place every day, you will have to take into consideration the cost to drop off the rental tender and get your original tender back on board.

While the engine is out, check all your bilge pump systems. It’s very important that no water will stay under the engine and transmission. We always recommend having at least one bilge pump with diaphragm in order to dry the bilge completely, which is impossible with a regular submersible bilge pump.

A good electrical check needs to be done on all switches, brakers and connections. Try to remove any fuses by brakers. If switches or brakers are corroded, just change them (it is not expensive and it will save lots of future problems). Always use high-quality switches and brakers and only use electrical connections with heat-shrinkable pods.

Once all those technical points have been checked or serviced, you should then go for a proper sea trial to ensure everything runs smoothly and safely.

For more information, visit EAMS Yacht Tender Center.

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