Spring commissioning covers a broad spectrum of possibilities for every boat owner. For some boaters commissioning means “get the boat running,” while for others it means “test all systems and prepare my boat for cruising, including a sea trial.”
With four service yards commissioning at least 200 boats each season, we have learned the hard way that there is no “one size fits all approach,” leading us to offer three different levels of commissioning to our customers, plus the option to create your own.
If you are commissioning your own boat, it can be a challenge to prioritize your time. What should be done before launching? What should be done just after launching? And which tasks can be tackled during the season? What work can I handle myself, and what should be done by a boat yard? The late author and consultant Stephen Covey taught people how to manage their time by dividing the demands into four quadrants:
- Important and urgent
- Important but not urgent
- Not important and urgent
- Not important and not urgent
Covey comments that people tend to spend too much time in Quadrant III, “not important and urgent” (an unexpected telephone call), and too little in Quadrant II, “important and not urgent” (taking time to plan priorities and work on long term goals). The same reasoning can be applied to commissioning. Urgency can be described with respect to timing: what has to happen before your boat is launched, before sea trial, before cruising? Importance can be applied as safety vs. cosmetic. With apologies to Covey, we can adapt his approach to boat commissioning.
Of course, each you need your own list, tailored for your boat, and the above is not intended to provide a comprehensive commissioning procedure.
It does, however, provide a way to plan your commissioning so that you make the most of the time you have. For example, while inspecting the shore power cord and inlets for corrosion or heat damage is not a pressing task, it is a very important one. The prudent cruiser will find time to attend to the less urgent but very important tasks.
Steve Zimmerman is the president of Zimmerman Marine which operates four boat yards in Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina. Steve has been repairing and building boats for almost four decades and in addition to running the yards, he assists boat buyers.