FAQ #1: Yard Service Policy
Our biggest problems in the yard are communications-related therefore, we have devised the yard policy below. To submit a work order:
- Fax us at 703/494-8786 - the fax is on a dedicated line 24 hours a day.
- Leave a detailed message on our answering machine.
- Complete 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.
- Contact the marina during weekday business hours and place your work order verbally with our service writer, parts manager, or business manager.
- Drop off your keys and work request in the key drop located at the service bay.
- Email us at email@example.com.
Please don't give verbal work requests to our mechanics as that has led to problems in the past. Be sure to note if you believe 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%.
Be advised that in the middle of the season we prioritize our work as follows: (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 may have to wait awhile.
Other notes: If you have small items, please save them up until we have an additional reason to be on the boat (i.e. break-in check, winterization, etc.) Should 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 will also help us to take an active part in ensuring that you get the proper repair.
There should 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.
FAQ #2: Spring Commissioning
To make your boat is ready in the spring here are the most important things to remember:
- If the boat is in dry storage, wax and clean at least a week before you launch.
- 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.
- When running the boat for the first time check the fluid levels in your batteries and top off with distilled water.
- 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.
- Download our Spring Commissioning form here.
FAQ #3: Winterization
- We require work orders for winterization by a certain date. Typically sport boats prior to 11/1, and cruisers prior to 12/1. This helps to prevent boats from freezing before we get to them but if you wish to be winterized later, we will do our best to accommodate. Click here to download our 2022 Winterization form.
- A commitment to dry storage is a commitment to dry store through the winter - that's to prevent us from moving three boats to get at one.
- If you keep your sport boat 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.
- All boats that stay on trailers need to be winterized when the nightly temps drop regularly below freezing.
- 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 hrs. 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.
- Leave your boat as wide open as possible. It's not too far fetched to say remove all the cushions you can and leave he 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.
- If you're coming out of the water, you can cover the boat in several ways. The best way is shrink wrap. Next best is a canvas storage cover with a rope system underneath to prevent puddling.
- 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.
- We used to leave the tank full, now it's choose your poison—leave it half 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.
FAQ #4: Hurricane Preparation
Hurricanes typically affect our area during August and September. Preparation for storms involves moving boats off the ends of piers, moving tall boats out from under covered piers, 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, 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:
- 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 customers to prep their own boat and are also thankful for customers 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 take 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.
- Make sure batteries are charged and bilge pumps are operational. If the boat has a trailer you might want to haul the boat out.
- Lay ropes on the back deck of your boat so if we need to change a tie up we can. Check your boat for a sufficient number of tie lines, anchors and anchor line, and any other equipment necessary to secure your boat in the water.
- If the water reaches the pier cover boards we turn off 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 full fridge it would be a good time to empty it.
- 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 at 25-35 MPH in the afternoon with rain and a surge of 2’-4’. This led us 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 and at 7 PM there was little wind and and a normal tide so we knew we were out of the woods.
- 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 get 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.
- Let us know if you want to help out by clicking here and sending us an email.