»7 Excellent reasons to buy a boat

»Boat buying tips

»Marina rules

»Yard service policy and dropping your boat off

»Customer Service Agreement form

»Brokerage policy

»Spring commissioning


»Hurricane preparation

»Storm water compliance

»Boat loan basics

»Boat maintenance

»Boat courses

»Boat safety tips

»Sample costs of boat ownership


FAQ 1: 7 Excellent Reasons To Buy A Boat

  1. Boating is fun. There is something for everyone—skiing, fishing, swimming or just catching a beautiful sunset. Plan an overnight destination if you really want to maximize your fun—you'll quickly realize that the more time you spend on your boat, the more fun you have.

  2. The cost of boating is comparable to many other types of leisure activities. You may be suprised to find that on an annual basis, the cost of owning your own boat can be less than season tickets for the Redskins or Nationals.

  3. Boating can help bring family and friends closer together. There are fewer outside distractions when you are on the water which results in more quality time spent together. Boat vacations and outings with family and friends create lifelong memories.

  4. Boating will improve your quality of life. It's hard to feel stress when you are anchored out in a quiet cove somewhere watching the sunset or heading out somewhere for a boat ride, jumping the waves with the wind in your hair. Boating provides a wonderful excuse to enjoy the outdoors.

  5. Boating is easy to master At Hoffmaster's we'll work with you until you are comfortable running and docking your boat. There are also numerous resources and instruction available on the web from groups such as the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary or the U.S. Power Squadron. Members of both of these organizations have boats at our marina. BoatSafe.com has a boating course and lots of useful information for boaters and last but not least, your dock neighbors can often be of great help too.

  6. Boating helps build self-confidence and a sense of adventure Learning how to run your boat and be the master of your own destiny out on the water is a wonderful feeling. As you become more comfortable with your boat, you may want to discover new creeks and out of the way swimming holes. Chart a course for adventure and instill that love for adventure in your children.

  7. Boating is good for your physical and mental health Please see previous 6 reasons.

FAQ 2: Joe's Tips For Boat Buyersjoe_hoffmaster_and_franklin

Thinking about buying a boat? If so, I hope you will find the following tips helpful.

  1. Shop all the peripherals—insurance, financing, ramp
    fees, wet slip storage, mechanical, and property taxes,
    so you know the "running costs."

  2. If the dealer quotes a gallon per hour fuel consumption figure for a boat at cruise speed, take two-thirds of that,
    multiply it by the number of hours you think you'll run the boat, and you
    have a pretty good idea of how many gallons you'll buy over a season.

  3. Match the boat to the usage—if you will use the boat on a high-traffic lake or tidal water get one of the better brands.

  4. When comparing warranties find out who owns the boat company—a lifetime warranty from a small builder means less than a 5-year warranty from a large builder.

  5. Buy your boat from a local dealer. Although in theory boat warranties are like car warranties, the practical matter is that in the heavy season a boat dealer is hard pressed keeping its own customers happy. Trying to butt into the schedule with a boat purchased elsewhere isn't going to happen.

  6. While we're on the subject—when you buy a boat you enter into a close relationship with your dealer. Be at least as careful who you buy from as what you buy. Talk to customers on the docks and ask whether the yard gives priority to boats that don't run even if it's not a money-making repair for the dealer. If you're not getting warm and fuzzy walk away.

  7. If two dealers for the same brand are way apart on price (say 10%-15%) and the higher priced dealer has a good reputation, you may assume that the lower priced dealer is a bad business person or will not service the product. It's not worth the savings.

  8. In selecting a boat size and type think hard about how, where, and who will use it, and why you want a boat. Balance cost against convenience and availability of going out on the boat.

  9. If you are putting less than 10% down on a boat, you will have to come up with money when you sell it. It's OK to do that but don't whine to the dealer if you get down the road and don't have the down payment you should have used in the beginning.

  10. REMEMBER: boating is a fun, relaxing, and enjoyable pursuit to which no other pastime compares. Find a way that you will have the most excuses to use the boat, buy it smart, and you'll never regret it.

  11. BROUGHT UP BY MANY PROSPECTS: if you're the kind of person who gravitates toward hard negotiating you should seek out that type of salesperson. Ditto if you don't like that type of negotiation. My style assumes that since you want a relaxation sport, you want to start relaxing and having fun while you're looking. I have people come in who walk away from me because they want a hard negotiation. On the other hand I have people who sign an agreement with me saying "thank you for making it so painless." It's your choice.

  12. You can get a good deal at the boat show. However, this is also the time when salespeople can be their most unscrupulous and get away most easily with distorting the truth about other brands. A visit to the dealership after handing over a refundable deposit to hold the boat ensures that you will know if the dealer makes you warm and fuzzy. Remember: you will have a closer relationship with a boat dealer than your car dealer.

  13. USED BOATS: how much you can borrow against a boat tips you off on how much the boat is worth. Ask an independent bank to determine this and if there's a discrepency ask the dealer why (sometimes the bank's wrong too).

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FAQ 3: Marina Rules

  1. Don't walk your dogs in the picnic area.

  2. Keep the piers clear! That is by order of fire marshall. I see inflatables, lines, hoses, fuel tanks(!) left out on the piers—these items must be removed.

  3. No barbecuing allowed on the piers, please use the picnic area.

  4. To dispose of old batteries, place them on the stoop to the battery shop with a big "X" on the side and we'll dispose of them.

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FAQ 4: Yard Service Policy

We feel that our biggest problems in the yard are communications-related. Therefore, we have devised the yard policy below.

To submit a work order:

  1. Fax us at 703/494-8786. The fax is on a dedicated line 24 hours a day.

  2. Leave a detailed message on our answering machine.

  3. Fill out a work order request or write your request on a piece of paper and place it in the work order box at the business center counter in the store.

  4. Call the marina during weekday business hours and place your work order verbally with our service writer, our parts manager, or our business manager.

  5. Drop off your keys and work request in the key drop located at the service bay.

    Coconut Joe shows you how
    to drop your boat off

  6. Email us at service@hoffmasters.com.

Please don't give work requests verbally to our mechanics as we have found this has led to problems in the past. Things get left out or remembered incorrectly and then the finger pointing begins. Also, be sure to note if you think a problem might be insurance related or if you need an estimate. If an estimate is given, we guarantee the job will not exceed the estimate by more than 10%.

»Click here to download our Customer Service Agreement form.

To follow up on a work order call 703/494-7161 and ask for the service writer or email service@hoffmasters.com.

Please bear the following in mind: in the middle of the season we must prioritize our work. Jobs that get done first are (1) boat deliveries and (2) problems that keep a person from being able to go for a ride. If your engine won't run—you go to the head of the line. If your hour meter stopped working you're going to wait awhile.

Other notes:
If you have some small items, please save them up until we have another reason to be on the boat (i.e. break-in check, winterization, etc.)

If you have a problem while away from the our marina, try to call us before you have someone else work on your boat. This will help to ensure warranty approval and it will also help us to take an active part in ensuring that you get the proper repair.

There is supposed to be a note left on the boat or you will be called by the mechanic—depending on the information that needs to be told to you. If not, please let us know so we may serve you better.

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FAQ 5: Spring Commissioning

To make your boat ready in the spring here are the most important things to remember:

  1. If the boat is in dry storage, wax and clean at least a week before you launch.

  2. Tell us in advance if you will need additional work performed; this helps us to schedule the yard more efficiently and it also helps us to have your boat ready when you are ready to go.

  3. When you use the boat for the first time, check the fluid levels in your batteries and top off with distilled water.

  4. Spray nine will handle any mildew there may be in the boat. For really severe stuff on headliners, use a solution of 25% bleach and 75% water in a spray bottle and flush with water.

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FAQ 6: Winterization 
»Click to download the 2019-20 Winterization/Dewinterization request form

There are many winterization specials out there but not all winterization packages are the same. We go the extra mile to give you The Hoffmaster's Advantage!

Hoffmaster's Winterization
Basic winterization by other service centers
Hoffmaster's Advantage
Winterize engine
Warm motor up, run antifreeze through motor to freeze protect and lubricate coolant passages
Drain the motor
Rubber and metal are coated to prevent deterioration
Winterize engine
Run the motor on a mixture of stabilizer, fogging oil and fuel
No fogging oil or stabilzer
Valve train and fuel system including injectors are preserved and lubricated
Winterize engine
Replace fuel/water separator
Don't replace fuel/water separator
Fuel stays fresh filter doesn't rust and put fuel into the bilge
Change oil and filter
Genuine Volvo, Mercruiser, BRP or Yamaha parts
Aftermarket parts
Better warranty and piece of mind
Shrink wrap
Use a wood framework to support the wrap
Strap supports
Shrink wrap doesn't pool in a rain or snowstorm superior protection of boat
ABYC member
Understanding of best practices in conducting engine maintenance
Certified technicians
Factory-trained technicians are your assurance of quality work

  1. We require people to put in work orders for winterization by a certain date. Typically sportboats prior to 11/1, and cruisers prior to 12/1. This helps to prevent boats from freezing before we get to them but if a person wants to be winterized later, we do our best to accomodate them.

  2. When a person commits to dry storing they must dry store through the winter. That's to prevent us from moving three boats to get at one.

  3. If you keep your sportboat in the water and we are doing the winterization, we must haul the boat. If you haul the boat and we don't get to it for a couple of weeks, there may be some freeze damage. Water acts as an insulation to the boat—there is no insulation out of the water.

  4. All boats that stay on trailers need to be winterized when the nightly temps drop regularly below freezing.

  5. There's no way to tell you in advance which set of items you need for sure. You are welcome to call or email us for help. In general, boats that stay on a lift behind your house can be winterized where they are but it's difficult to shrink wrap them. Boats that have under 30 hours should not schedule a separate break-in check as that would increase your costs for duplicate work. If you are a do-it-your-selfer, please have us do at least the motors as we guarantee the winterization. Should you winterize something badly and your boat sinks while we're closed for the holidays, rest assured we will charge as much as possible to raise her. For those who are hard up but want to do the minimum, the minimum is to freeze protect the boat and delay other maintenance.

  6. Leave your boat as wide open as possible. It's not too far fetched to say remove all the cushions you can and leave the cabin door wide open to prevent mildew. On the other hand heaters aren't necessary. Use an oscillating fan if you're at the dock and a lamp so the boat isn't dark. Put both on a room timer. Open all doors and drawers. Open any vent windows you can and crack open all bilge hatches for air circulation. You'll be amazed how nice the boat is in the spring.

  7. If you're coming out of the water, you can cover the boat in several ways. The best way is to shrink wrap. Next best is a canvas storage cover with a rope system underneath to prevent puddling.

  8. You may want to put a 2 x 4 under your canvas bows if you're in the water and leave the bimini up to prevent damage under snow load.

  9. We used to leave the tank full, now it's choose your poison—leave it 1/2 full and risk water, leave it totally full and your gas turns bad. I recommend either way using a healthy amount of fuel stabilizer and water absorbent.

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FAQ 7: Hurricane Preparation

Hurricanes typically affect our area in August and September. In general, preparation for the storms boils down to moving boats off the ends of the piers, moving really tall boats out from under cover, lowering bimini tops and radio antennas, moving loose items off of the piers and shoreline, and tying boats differently than normal.

We track storms from the time they are about half way across the Atlantic. Except in the case of a storm passing directly over us, direct wind damage is not a big issue. High water is what we watch for. As every Hoffmaster’s boater knows, the Chesapeake Bay runs north to south. North and westerly winds create lower than normal tides, easterly winds create higher than normal tides. These winds—coupled with moon phase—tell us what kind of water to expect. However, it’s not enough to go based on the forecasts. Until a surge is predicted by NOAA and we know both the storm track and when and where the storm will cross the Virginia/North Carolina border, we can’t really know what’s going to happen. That’s why when you call us two days before the storm we are vague. Here’s what you can do:

  1. In the event of a major storm, let us know if you plan to prepare your boat or if you want us to prep your boat for you. We welcome people doing their own prep work and are also thankful for people who inform us if they will be out of town or put in a request for us to take care of their boat. Our policy is to charge a nominal amount—$40-$60 per boat which basically covers our costs for moving lines, moving boats, etc. If you are taking care of your own boat please let us know so we don't charge you. You can send us an email by CLICKING HERE. Also, many insurance companies offer to pay half of the cost of hauling and blocking. If this is what you wish, please let us know and we will perform that service as space and time allow.

    If the water reaches the pier cover boards we will turn the power off to
    the pier. If it continues to rise to a foot over the pier we also deny access to the piers for safety reasons. If you have a fridge full of food it would be a good idea to empty it.

  2. Make sure batteries are charged and bilge pumps are operational. If the boat has a trailer you might want to haul the boat out.

  3. Lay some ropes on the back deck of your boat so if we need to change a tie up we can. Check your boat to make sure you have sufficient tie lines, anchors and anchor line, and any other equipment necessary to secure your boat in the water.

  4. If the water reaches the pier cover boards we will turn the power off to the pier. If it continues to rise to a foot over the pier we also deny access to the piers for safety reasons. If you have a fridge full of food it
    would be a good idea to empty it.

  5. Pay attention to the marine weather forecast and what it’s actually doing outside. For example, during Charlie the winds were forecast out of the northeast 25-35 MPH in the afternoon with rain and a surge of 2’-4’. This led me to believe that rain water would come over the Occoquan dam and be held in the river by the wind. In fact, at 2 PM the water was 6’ below pier level because a north wind had been blowing. The next high tide was at 7 PM so we brought boats off the ends of the piers and swept the docks and shoreline but took no additional action. It wasn’t until 6:30 that forecasters said the storm was further east than expected. At 7 PM I saw that there was little wind and we had a normal tide so I knew we didn’t have trouble ahead.

  6. There are two scenarios that have created three storms since 1970 which have put significant water over the docks. In the first scenario, the storm passes close by so we have heavy east wind, surge and rain all at the same time. In the second scenario, the storm gets stuck over the mountains and dumps rain on us while we get run off as well. Which scenario dictates which way the boats will be tied. Generally, the idea is to tie to the bow pilings the same number of feet as the storm surge prediction above your existing knot. Spring the boat away from the dock and leave it a little loose.

  7. Let us know if you want to help out. You can send us an email by CLICKING HERE.

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FAQ 8: Storm Water Compliance

  1. All self-employed boat workers and independent contractors must register with and receive approval from manager before beginning any work on marina property. All subcontractors must comply with these environmental best management practices.

  2. Owners may undertake boat projects as needed to maintain their vessels' safety, appearance and utility. New or substantial exterior work encompassing more than 25% of the hull's surface must be reviewed by manager.

  3. Marina management encourages all vessel owners to adhere to the following best management practices.

    Engines and Bilges
    • Use absorbent pads to soak up fuel and oil
    • Recycle oil and diesel properly
    • Dispose of gasoline properly
    • Dispose of oil filters properly
    • Do not discharge bilge water if it has a sheen
    • Do not dispose of oil, fuels or oil filters in the marina's dumpsters
    • Contact management for nearest recycling locations
    • Dispose of used batteries properly. Do not dispose of batteries at marina's dumpsters. The marina will accept batteries for disposal in the ship's store

    Painting and Varnishing
    • Limit open solvents or paints on the dock to one gallon total
    • Mix paints over a tarp
    • Always use a drip pan and drop cloth
    • Spray painting is prohibited
    • Use up paint by spreading on a board
    • Do not dispose of paints or solvents in the marina's dumpsters
    • Contact management for nearest recycling locations and disposal locations

    Surface Preparation
    • Use biodegradable cleansers and teak cleaners
    • Liberally use tarps to capture scrapings, debris and sanding
    • Stretch tarps between boat and dock when working over water
    • Vacuum dust and debris every time you move the tarp or every hour
    • Reverse boat in slip to work on far side

    • Never discharge untreated sewage directly overboard
    • Store sewage in holding tanks and dispose of at pump out stations
    • Ensure TYPE 1 MSD's work and operate only underway
    • Do not discharge a TYPE 1 MSD in the marina
    • Use shore side facilities whenever possible

    Solid Waste Disposal
    • Dispose of garbage in proper shore side receptacles
    • Let empty paint cans dry thoroughly before disposing in trash

    Chemical Storage
    • Purchase only what you need for the project
    • No storage of fuels, oils or solvents on docks or finger piers

Contact Marina management for more information. All hazardous waste must be disposed of properly.

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