Tag Archives: Insurance

Anchoring and leaving the engine key in cockpit?

When we are at anchor we leave the key for the engine in the lock. We also make sure that the power to the windlass is on. The only thing we look is the companionway door.

Engine Key

Engine Key is ready to go.

Power to the windlass is left on.

Power to the windlass is left on.

This is done just to make it simple for someone to re-anchor the boat, if it is dragging and we are not on-board.  There is always a possibility that others cruiser can help.

One day we had a cruising friend on-board that pointed out that his insurance company did not cover, if the boat would be stolen if he left the key in the cockpit.

The day after I contacted Pantaenius, and asked what their policy was?

Bo, who is the manager for Pantaenius Sweden is also a sailor and said his boat had dragged just some weeks ago on anchor.  As the key was is the cockpit, damages could be avoided.

His answer was clear,  Pantaenius does cover, if the boat is stolen when left on anchor with the key in. His standpoint is that it would be more expensive to pay for damages caused by boats dragging that cannot be re-anchored, than boats that are stolen.

It is nice to deal with a company that is managed by sailors who have common sense.

I´m sure they do not cover if the boat is left for longer periods on anchor with the key in.

For example in Rio Guadiana we did see several boats left for the winter on anchor in the river.  Some of them dragged when the river flooded.  Then it is a domino effect when that boat hit the next one… I was not surprised when a local said the river floods every winter.

Boats on anchor in the river

Boats on anchor in the river

The boats in the picture are not left over winter, but upstream there was. It is easy to imagine  what could happen if  one of them dragged.

For me it is common sense not to leave the boat on anchor for longer periods with no one on-board, with or without key.


Boat insurance

Lot of people have emailed me, and asked  advice about what insurance to buy.

It is very difficult to give straight advice, as there are so many parameters that need to be accounted for, cruising area, language, coverage, price etc.

In order to make a choice, you have to define theparameters that are important for you. Without that knowledge, you will not be able to make an intelligent choice. In worst case you will end up with the insurance that offers the lowest price.  That might well be an expensive alternative, if your expectations are not met.

Unfortunately our previous insurance company only covered Europe. This forced us to look for alternatives, as we have plans to sail outside Europe. We want an insurance company that has no geographical limitations, large network with repair yards and most important, terms in my native language (Swedish).

The company that could meet our requirements was Pantaenius.

Geographical area

Pantaenius offers insurance also if you decide to sail around the world. Your premium is based on the local area, in our case Europe.  You must report to Pantaenius, if you want to sail outside your insured area.

 Large network

We learned from our years in the marine business that local presence is so important. We wanted an insurer that had a good network with service yards. We did not find any that had a better network.

 Local presence

I wanted a contact that spoke our own language, in my case Swedish. I also want to read the terms in my own language. Even in your own language it can be challenging to understand all the terms.

In addition to the criteria we had defined we discovered that Pantaenius also included the following.

No write down of the value due to age

No write down on equipment, because of age. That means you get a new radar if the old one is stolen or damaged in a lightning strike. I think this is very generous!

Fixed value on the boat

 In case of a total loss you get what you have agreed on in the insurance letter (agreed value), nothing more, nothing less.


Pantaenius also offers insurance for crew and or guests in case of accidents. We opted for that just because of convenience.


Pantaenius was not the cheapest offer we got. But the lowest price alternative did fail on the local language criteria. (We did not buy the cheapest boat either!) The price of your insurance will become very obvious the day you have to make a claim.

Pantaenius is a German company. My expectation is that they will fulfill the terms 100 %, in a German efficient order. I let you know if my expectations are met when I have my first claim. Hopefully it will never happen.


 I wrote this article a month before our engine problems in Plymouth. One day the manager for the repair shop called me and said he wanted to come to the boat and discuss cost before any further work was done. Gary had been working 4 days troubleshooting. I understood this will not be inexpensive, and pulled out the insurance terms and started reading. I did find that Pantaenius would cover the engine, if it is not older than 5 years and have been maintained every 12-month by an authorized workshop.

I immediately contacted  Pantaenius and asked if my damage would be covered. Our engine is 4 year and has been professional maintained. No problem was the answer. “We have even extended the coverage for Hallberg-Rassy owners to 8 years when it comes to engines”. That was good news for us, and made us feel much better.

I have to admit that the engine was not something I was thinking about when choosing insurance. As a matter of fact it was a pleasant surprise! Engine problems were not on my list for possible breakdowns. But there is always a first time with everything. It also shows how difficult it is to make an intelligent choice.

We met one boat owner that said he always bought the cheapest insurance, as it was not likely that something would happen “never have had a claim in 30 years”.

Well if something does not happen, you do not need insurance!

I had 31 years of boating until my first claim.



Engine problems

At last we could leave Plymouth. Nice town! But almost two weeks was too much. The reason for our extended stay was engine problems.

Our engine is the Yanmar 4JH4-TE. It is 4 years, and has 450 hours. 4-5 weeks ago I noticed 1-2 seconds delay when starting. Not as crisp as normal. I thought it was just due to different fuel quality. After another 2 weeks the engine would not start hot. After cooling down for 2-3 hours it starts and run just perfect until next time you stop it.

We got to Salcombe when the outgoing tide was at the strongest. At the same time we had a rainstorm. (Hours later Cornwall had severe flooding in places.) The engine stalled just before catching the buoy. With help from the harbour master, we tied to the buoy before we drifted on ground. Once safely tied to the buoy, I called the local Yanmar dealer. (Also Volvo Penta dealer), SMS Ltd. The manager director John Bower, answered my call and said “No problem. I send an engineer immediately”. This was on Friday afternoon, when everyone wants to go home! Soon Gary shows up and makes the first inspection.

Gary in Bellas engine room.

I had done all the normal checks with fuel, filter, start motor, start relays, batteries, cables etc. Gary was listening to the engine, and thought it “sounded lovely”. Only one little problem, it does not want to start hot. I could hear Gary talking to himself in the engine room. One thing I heard was “this is not a normal starting problem, it starts cold, runs perfect all day, does not smoke or use any oil”
We decided to meet in Plymouth on Monday. SMS also have an office in QAB Marina.

We motored to Plymouth just to test if it would be any problems. The motor ran great as normal. I almost thought the problem had gone away. Arriving in the marina we T-boned the dock as the engine stalled again, when shifting to reverse. You feel pretty stupid when you have 13 tons of boat moving forward in a tight marina, and the engine stalls and it refuses to start. It was not my best manoeuvre, as I should have been more prepared for the stalling scenario. But no damaged done, aim at something cheap is the rule. There was some free space at the dock where the harbour master was standing. The harbour master looked shocked when we slammed in to his pontoon. He managed to stand on his feet, also after when we ran up on the pontoon he was standing on. Hallberg-Rassys are strong in the bow, and we did more damage to the woodwork on the dock than on the boat. On the boat it was nothing.

On Monday morning Gary showed up as promised. He worked very methodically, to rule out problems inside the engine. Valves, injector and compression were tested. Everything O.K. He even looked inside the cylinders with a little camera that he slides down thru the injector hole. All looked perfect and after three days work, he and John came to the conclusion something must be wrong inside the fuel injection pump, as everything else had been ruled out. Again he said, “This is VERY, VERY unusual on an almost new diesel engine”.

Jake is controlling the camera and Gary is looking inside of a Yanmar 4JH4-TE.

Gary said if you keep your fuel system clean you should not get any problem with the pump after 450 hours. They should last several 1000 hours. Bella Luna’s tank was clinically clean. As Hallberg-Rassy has a sump pump it is easy to check if there is water or dirt. We pumped several litres to be sure; no water or dirt. It was almost disappointing, as dirty fuel would point us directly to the injection pump. Our fuel filters have always been changed after maximum 100 hours, or before it is laid up for winter. We should not really have to face this, but there is always an unknown factor involved.
Injection pumps are not something that workshops have in stock. John called his contact on the Yanmar importer in England, EP Barrus. They had a spare (Bosch VE) injection pump that came from a new engine that was damaged in transport.

I was nervous when Gary started unscrew the old pump. The Yanmar service manual had a warning in it, “Whatever you do, Do not lose the timing. It is “extremely difficult or close to impossible to recover it”. If they write that in the workshop manual, it has to be serious!!
I could see that Gary had respect for this work. Also he was nervous, as so many things could go wrong. Following the service manual was impossible. It is never that easy as the engines are installed in a boat when it needs service!! After Gary had finished, he said this is on the limit what you can do with the engine in the boat. 10 hours later the new injection pump was in place.

No doubt we where very lucky to meet Gary. He has 26 years experience. You see a lot of service signs in marinas. What is behind the sign is not always easy to know. This was the kind of job that not that many service shops would have managed.

Thank you SMS for extraordinary service. Thank you EP Barrus for your support with parts. Without your support we would still be in Plymouth.

A repair like this is expensive. You need to spend time ruling out more common reasons before you start with the fuel injection pump.

On top of the labour we needed to buy a new injection pump. That is the single most expensive part on the engine!

This is the time you start to read the terms on your boat insurance! Do we have coverage? And yes we had!

More about Boat Insurance in a separate article.