Evaluating Boat Contractors for Your Next Boat Fix

Man washing a boat

Proper maintenance and storage are crucial elements of boat ownership and operation. However, if you do not have the ability or the equipment to care for your boat, you need to leave it in the hands of certified professionals you can depend on to care for your vessel year-round. 

The first step in protecting your boat is to find a local marina in Pensacola, Florida, complete with full facilities and a professional boat repair staff. The marina has certified boat professionals, safe facilities, a green-friendly environment, accessibility and equipment that can lift and haul your boat. Let’s take a closer look at how to evaluate boat contractors and boatyards on the Gulf Coast.

Environmental Standards

If neglected, marinas and shipyards can become highly toxic due to the ongoing presence of chemicals, fuels, metals and an array of materials. As a result, it is the responsibility of all marinas to maintain a shipyard that meets or exceeds environmental standards. Standards are set by organizations such as the Clean Marine Program, the Clean Boating Foundation and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Before working with a boat contractor, make sure they are clean certified and adhere to the highest industry standards for cleanliness. Contractors should choose environmentally safe products and practices and use environmentally safe boatyards. Increasing the environmental standards beyond what is required adds to the attraction of any recreational marina facilities, as more people search for green products and sustainable solutions in the boating industry. You can contribute to environmental efforts by choosing to work with contractors that follow environmental standards.


When comparing marinas, accessibility is a central issue for boat owners. Accessibility ranges from the distance you must drive or the tidal variance to how easy it is to get past security as a boatyard member. Accessibility also refers to how easy it is to get your boat from the shipyard to the water. If you want to find out more about boat accessibility, feel free to contact a member of the shipyard’s team. 

The staff can answer questions including:

  • What is the depth of water in the approach, fairways and berths of the marina at dead low tide?
  • What is the rate of tidal flow or river flow in the marina?
  • Which direction does the tidal flow relative to your proposed berth? 
  • Is the marina and your berth accessible in all tides?

How easy it is to access your boat can also depend on the dockage type or layout. Before you decide on a marina, speak with a contractor about the marina’s guidelines for accessibility. When can you access the boatyard and under what conditions? Also, look for features such as wide walkways, dock stability, load capacity, the dock’s freeboard and lighting. 

A Safety Program

Most accidents that occur at marina’s happen as a result of negligence or careless actions. As such, safety should be a marina’s top priority. Boatyard owners should institute a comprehensive marina safety program and urge guests and staff to follow it. They should also provide safety information to all members and guests through signage, pamphlets, member brochures, etc. In addition, they can promote marina safety on their website and social media channels.

A safety program may include:

  • Non-slip surfaces throughout the facility and around the docks
  • Fire-hazard prevention from fuel leaks or electrical wiring
  • No-swimming policy
  • Flotation device policy for children and adults
  • Provide/sell personal locator beacons
  • Weather monitoring services

Safety programs should also include plans for boat launching ramps, dock flotation, anchorage, fuel dispensing areas, charging areas, electrical systems, grounding, walkways, handrails, lifesaving devices, housekeeping and sewage management. When visiting a marina, feel free to address these issues and ask specific questions about safety. 

Vetted Contractor List

A contractor is a general term for any company that the boatyard partners with to provide a service for the boats. These contractors are independent contractors and do not work for the shipyard. Boatyards are obligated to vet contractors using criteria such as licensing, certification, insurance, bonding, experience and reputation. As a marina member, you have access to contractor services, such as boat maintenance, professional yacht repair, renovations or other services. 

Before choosing a boatyard, find out what contractors they use and if they are qualified to perform common boatyard jobs. Research your potential contractors and ensure that they have the necessary experience and certifications to carry out your specific boat fixes.


Certain amenities should be requirements on your checklist, while others are simply bonus features. Essential amenities include electrical hook-ups, fresh water, dock carts, dock boxes, private lockers, adequate parking, line-hangers, laundry and a dinghy dock. Luxury marinas may include private showers,  swimming pools, spas, tennis courts, picnic areas, restaurants and more.

How do you tell the difference between the essentials and the luxury features? Start by establishing your needs versus your wants. For instance, electrical hook-ups should be a standard feature in nearly all marinas. However, a spa or tennis court may not be essential. Explore all amenities to determine if the marina meets your needs or adds a little extra fun to your visit. 

Friendly and Capable Staff

Find a marina with trusted and well-trained staff. The staff should be available to help you with questions or issues that arise while your boat is on the property. The staff should also be responsive when you need help. Get to know the shipyard staff and take a tour of the facility. Establishing a healthy relationship with the staff garners mutual trust and respect. 

Contact Pensacola Shipyard Today

Conveniently located on the protected waters of Bayou Chico, we are the Emerald Coast’s premier shipyard. We have everything that you need to take care of your vessel. Whether your vessel needs in-water or out of the water service, we have the boatyard capabilities and resources to get the job done.

Contact Pensacola Shipyard at 850-780-8441 to schedule service or find out more about our facilities.