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Putting a yacht to bed – the art of good de-commissioning

July 1, 2014

Being a busy marina, shipyard and international sales centre, Berthon completes the layup and winterisation of many yachts each year. Whether a yacht is coming out of the water for winter, or joining our busy gantries for sale, these yachts need to go through the same process.

Berthon layup and winterisation process

Since each yacht and her owner’s requirements are different, a meeting between a Berthon project manager, a Berthon Broker if the yacht is coming to us for sale, and the owner will take place on board, to discuss what she needs to ensure that her systems and ancillaries are properly preserved for a trouble free re-commissioning process when the time comes under new or potentially new ownership. It is also important that a plan for keeping her cosmetics up to snuff via a regular clean from our Berthon Boat Care team is included. A breakdown of the estimated costs and procedures is always readily available. At Berthon, we prefer to start work when you know the full score.

We look at the layup process in 3 distinct areas, before lifting, during lifting and ashore. Each has a number of processes involved which are explained below.

Before Lifting.

When the boat is still in its berth we would carry out the majority of the layup process:-

  • The engine(s) and generators are fully serviced, including changing oil and filters.
  • Gas system checked and disconnected and gas bottled removed.
  • Freshwater systems serviced, completely flushed, dried and disconnected to stop stagnation in the system.
  • Sails removed and stored – this can be completed by the owner, but we recommend they are cleaned and serviced by a sail maker before storage – this eliminates the potential for disappointment when a keen buyer sticks his nose into a sail bag for a cursory glance and smells a private fungi factory in the making!
  • Batteries serviced and checked for condition and stored on a trickle charge if required by owner. This is an important subject that needs proper planning if the batteries are to remain in good health whilst the yacht is ashore
  • Removal of running rigging and replace with mouse lines prevents greening of the halyards.
  • Removal of all personal items from onboard.
  • Remove covers, spray hoods and canopies, to be sent for cleaning, then stored or put back onboard.
  • Thorough wash down to clean salt from the yacht.
  • It is also recommended that yachts are lifted with full fuel tanks to reduce condensation and the resulting water accumulation that occurs over time.
Berthon - Layup notices aboard a motoryacht

Warning notices aboard a motor yacht showing which systems have been winterized

Berthon - Halyard mouse lines on sailing yacht

Mouse lines on a sailing yacht

During Lifting.

The lifting facilities at Berthon consist of a 20 tonne pillar crane and 75 tonne travel hoist, coupled with various types of yacht moving machinery, allowing us to make around 2,500 movements each year.

Once the yacht has been lifted, the boat moving team will pressure wash the underwater areas of the hull, and tenders will be removed and shrink wrapped ready for storage under the yacht. The yacht will then be moved either to the yard or gantry where it will be blocked off or put in a cradle.

Berthon - Lift and Scrub at Berthon Lymington Marina

Pressure washing motor yachts hull

Berthon - Shrink-wrapped tender

shrink wrapped tender


Now we are into the final stage of the layup process. With the yacht ashore and the hull clean, we will generally apply two coats of antifoul for protection whilst ashore. Stern gear (and P-Bracket if needed) will be cleaned and polished. For motor yachts, trim tabs and rudders will be descaled and polished if they are not painted.

Berthon - motoryacht burnished props

Freshly burnished props

Next on the list for both sailing and motor vessels is to check the condition of all the seacocks which will then be lubricated and pipes checked.

Berthon - Winterised Engine

Winterised engine with the impeller removed and stored with the engine.

Finally the yacht will be professionally cleaned by our valeting team. Simon Barnett, our Boat Care Manager, customises every clean to suit the yacht and will discuss exactly what the yacht needs with her owner on arrival, but options include:

  • Topsides – cut, polished and waxed.
  • Stainless Steel polished.
  • Interior valeting.
  • Bilges cleaned and sanitised.
  • Heads flushed with fresh water.

It is then important that she stays shiny. We have a wash down schedule as well as internal cleaning to keep your yacht in the best shape and condition. This is very important, particularly if the yacht is for sale as there is no second chance to make a good first impression.

Berthon - Layup warning notice on sailing yacht

Yacht chart table showing warning labels of de-commissioned services aboard.

A list will be left onboard that highlights which services can and can’t be used with warning labels added to machinery that needs to be commissioned before use. Also, as part of the engine service, Berthon will take an oil sample that will then be sent off for particle checks. This will be kept on file and compared to earlier or other engine services records, which means that we can pick up on component wear early. Finally, a list of recommendations will be made by the project manager, of jobs that need to be accomplished before the yacht goes afloat again. Some may merit immediate attention and others can wait.

To enquire further about a layup or winter de-commissioning at Berthon please contact our refit team – who will gladly discuss all the details and procedures.

To enquire about our brokerage services please contact

For Berthon brokerage layup and refit information, please contact

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