How to choose the right dinghy?

Jan 12, 2024

When purchasing a new dinghy for your main vessel, there are several important factors to consider to ensure that the dinghy meets your specific needs and preferences. Here are some key considerations:

  1. Size and Capacity:
    • Consider the size of the tender in relation to your main vessel. Ensure that it’s large enough to comfortably transport passengers and gear.
    • Check the weight capacity to ensure it can safely carry the intended number of people and equipment.
  2. Material and Construction:
    • Tenders can be made from various materials, such as PVC, Hypalon, or aluminium. Each material has its pros and cons in terms of durability, weight, and maintenance. Choose a material that suits your usage and environment.
  3. Inflatable vs. Rigid:
    • Decide whether you want an inflatable tender or a rigid one (RIB). Inflatables are often lighter and more compact, while RIBs have a rigid hull that provides better stability and performance in rough waters.
  4. Storage and Transportation:
    • Consider the storage space available on your main vessel for stowing the tender. Inflatables are generally easier to store as they can be deflated, while RIBs may require more space.
  5. Ease of Inflation/Assembly:
    • If you opt for an inflatable tender, consider how easy it is to inflate and assemble. Some models come with features like quick-inflation valves for convenience.
  6. Stability and Performance:
    • Look for a tender with good stability, especially if you plan to use it for fishing, diving, or other activities. Consider the boat’s hull design for optimal performance in various conditions.
  7. Outboard Motor Compatibility:
    • Check the recommended horsepower for the tender and ensure it is compatible with the outboard motor you plan to use. The motor’s weight and size should also be suitable for the tender.
  8. Handling and Manoeuvrability:
    • Test the tender’s handling and manoeuvrability, especially if you plan to navigate in tight spaces or challenging conditions. RIBs generally offer better handling.
  9. Accessories and Features:
    • Consider additional features such as oars, oarlocks, lifting points, towing eyes, and storage compartments. Some tenders may also have built-in seats or other accessories.
  10. Budget:
    • Set a budget for your tender purchase. Prices can vary significantly based on size, material, and features. Consider the long-term value and durability of the tender in relation to the price.
  11. Brand and Reputation:
    • Research the reputation of the manufacturer. Choose a reputable brand known for producing high-quality tenders with good customer support. The following brands are market leaders:
    Zodiac: Zodiac is a renowned brand known for its inflatable boats, including tenders and RIBs (Rigid Inflatable Boats). They have a global presence and are widely used in various boating applications.
    AB Inflatables: AB Inflatables is recognized for producing high-quality inflatable boats, including tenders. They are known for their durability and performance.
    Walker Bay: Walker Bay is a manufacturer that focuses on designing innovative inflatable boats and dinghies. They are known for their stable and lightweight designs.
    Highfield Boats: Highfield specializes in aluminium-hulled RIBs and tenders. They are known for their durability, seaworthiness, and high-quality construction.
    Achilles Inflatables: Achilles is a well-established brand in the inflatable boat industry. They produce a range of tenders and inflatables, known for their reliability and performance.

Keep in mind that the popularity of brands can change over time, and new players may have entered the market since my last update. It’s advisable to check the most recent industry reports, customer reviews, and sales data for the latest information on the best-selling tender dinghy manufacturers.

Before making a final decision, it’s advisable to test the tender whenever possible and gather information from reviews, forums, and other boating enthusiasts who may have experience with the specific model you’re interested in. Get in touch with our team to discuss your dinghy insurance in more detail.

10 Essential Components Your Boat Insurance Policy should include

Nov 29, 2023

A comprehensive boat insurance policy typically provides coverage for a wide range of risks and incidents that could occur while you’re using or storing your boat. Keep in mind that specific coverage can vary between insurance providers and policies. At Topsail, we can help you understand the terms and conditions of your individual policy.

However, here are some common coverages that are often included in comprehensive boat insurance:

1. Physical Damage Coverage:

  • Hull Insurance – This covers damage to the boats hull, including the structure and equipment.
  • Outboard Motors, Tenders and Other Equipment – Coverage for damage to motors and other equipment that are permanently attached to the boat.

2. Liability Coverage:

  • Bodily Injury Liability – Protects you if you are found responsible for injuries to others while using your boat. This may be persons on board your boat, or in the event of a collision, a crew member on a third party boat.
  • Property Damage Liability – Covers damage to someone else’s property caused by your boat.                                                                                                                                                                     

3. Personal Property Coverage:

  • Covers personal belongings on the boat, such as clothing, fishing equipment, soft furnishings and other personal items.

4. Medical Expenses and Personal Accident

  • Some policies contain cover for specific accidents and injuries. However, we would never recommend relying on your boat insurance policy for this cover. If you’re long distance sailing or going to be away from your home country for an extended period of time on your boat we’d recommend you get a bespoke Boat Travel Policy to cover your medical emergencies amongst other things. Get a quote from us online here.

5. Towing and Emergency Assistance:

  • Provides coverage for towing and other emergency services if your boat is stuck or seriously damaged.

6. Wreck Removal:

  • Pays for the cost of removing your boat if it is damaged and sinks.

7. Agreed Value or Market Value:

  • Policies may offer either an agreed-upon value for your boat, or its actual cash value at the time of the loss.

8. Navigational Area:

  • Defines the geographical areas where your boat is covered. Some policies may limit coverage to specific waters.

9. Lay-Up Period:

  • Some policies may offer reduced coverage during periods when the boat is not in use or depending on specific mooring locations

10. Windstorm Restrictions

  • Some policies may offer amended coverage during periods when hurricanes, typhoons or cyclones are naturally occurring or require you to move your vessel away from these specific regions are certain times during the year.

It’s crucial to carefully read and understand the terms, conditions, and exclusions of your boat insurance policy to ensure you have the coverage you need. Additionally, you may want to consider any optional coverages or endorsements that may be available to tailor the policy to your specific needs.  Topsail would be delighted to discuss your boat insurance needs with you.   If you require a quote, you can submit an enquiry online

Celebrating Success: Topsail Team Shines with Rave Reviews from 6 Satisfied Clients!

Nov 16, 2023

Here at Topsail, our customer service is a huge priority to us and all our team work hard to provide a 5 star service. We are always on hand, whether by phone or via online communication, to help with your queries and requirements. We are so pleased that our customers clearly feel we are doing a great job, which is evidenced by the amazing Google Reviews we have received over the last few years.

With a 4.8 star score and 921 public reviews, it is absolutely incredible to hear the great comments and see all the wonderful feedback for our team.

Contact the team and get a quote now at https://topsailinsurance.com/ or by calling 01273 573727.

Why is it important to protect against frost damage?

Oct 26, 2023

Why is it important to protect your vessel against frost damage?

Frost damage poses a significant threat to boat engines when precautions are not taken. The primary issue stems from the fact that water expands when it freezes, and this expansion can cause severe damage to various engine components.   I know we all hope for a mild winter but quite often a prolonged cold spell is a reality.

  • Cracked Engine Block: Perhaps the most critical concern is a cracked engine block. When water within the engine block freezes, it expands, exerting immense pressure on the block’s metal structure. This can lead to fractures, rendering the engine inoperable and requiring costly repairs or replacements.
  • Freeze Damage to Cooling System: Boat engines rely on cooling systems to regulate their temperature. When water within the cooling system freezes, it can damage components like the radiator or hoses. This not only affects the engine’s ability to cool itself but can also result in coolant leaks that may cause overheating and engine failure.
  • Frozen Fuel Systems: Fuel lines and tanks can also suffer from frost damage. Frozen fuel lines can disrupt the flow of fuel, leading to engine misfires or stalling. Additionally, frozen fuel can lead to condensation issues, causing water contamination in the fuel, which may corrode engine parts.
  • Electrical and Mechanical Components: Frost can damage sensitive electrical components such as starter motors, alternators, and ignition systems. Mechanical components like throttle linkages and cables can also become frozen or brittle, impacting the engine’s control and performance.
  • Exhaust System Concerns: Frost can damage exhaust systems, particularly if moisture accumulates within the system and freezes. This can lead to exhaust leaks, which pose safety risks and may even compromise engine efficiency.

In summary, frost damage to boat engines is a severe problem when precautions are not taken due to the potential for cracked engine blocks, cooling system failures, disrupted fuel delivery, damage to critical components, and exhaust system issues. Preventive measures, such as winterizing the engine, using antifreeze, and storing the boat in a climate-controlled environment, are essential to avoid these costly and often dangerous problems.

Most comprehensive insurance policies will cover damage for frost, but you are required to provide evidence that have taken all necessary preventative measures including, but not limited to, compliance with all manufacturer’s recommendations or where manufacturer’s recommendations do not exist; acting on the advice of a qualified marine engineer including the correct use of anti-freeze.

Covering an engine in a duvet wouldn’t unfortunately be enough – yes, that is a real example with the engine suffering serious frost damage.

If you take comprehensive boat insurance with Topsail, we can arrange a policy including cover for frost damage. Click here for a quote or contact the office!

Atlantic Rally for Cruisers – are you ready?

Oct 5, 2023

The ARC (Atlantic Rally for Cruisers) is one of the world’s most popular and well-known long-distance sailing rallies, sailing across the Atlantic to the Caribbean. The World ARC is an expansion of this event, for long-term sailors who wish to circumnavigate the whole globe! These rallies are arranged by World Cruising Club (WCC) and provide an opportunity for sailors to undertake long ocean passages in the company of other boats, making it a safer and more sociable way to explore the world’s oceans.

WCC provide a wide range of support and benefits to sailors participating in their ARC rallies, including safety seminars and training in preparation for the voyage, technical assistance whilst under sail, and advice on weather, logistics or medical problems that may occur. These should leave you feeling secure and safe whilst sailing, in particular if you are sailing with your family. Another benefit is that the World Cruising Club regularly arrange and host social events for their participants to help you meet other sailors or to welcome you to shore after a passage at sea!

Here’s an overview of both the ARC and the World ARC:

ARC (Atlantic Rally for Cruisers):

The ARC was first organised in 1986 and takes place annually. It typically begins in late November or early December, and the main route of the ARC is from Las Palmas in the Canary Islands to Rodney Bay in Saint Lucia – a distance of approximately 2,700 nautical miles across the Atlantic Ocean! The event attracts a diverse fleet of cruising yachts and catamarans, from seasoned sailors to those embarking on their first ocean crossing so you’re bound to find someone to sail alongside.

World ARC:

The World ARC is an extended rally, that circumnavigates the globe – it typically takes around 15 months to complete, and starts and finishes in Saint Lucia. After completing the ARC, you could go straight onward and start the World ARC from St Lucia!

The route varies, and you do have freedom in where you choose to stop, but you might make visits to various destinations such as the Galapagos Islands, French Polynesia, Australia, South Africa or Brazil. The World ARC covers a wide range of ocean passages, so provides participants with an opportunity to explore many regions of the world and visit places you might only dream of!

Whilst many of the logistical aspects of these voyages are arranged and supported by the organisers, one thing you’ll need to ensure you have sorted is your insurance. At Topsail, we have access to insurers that could cover either the ARC or the World ARC and provide comprehensive insurance policies for offshore sailing. Find out more and enquire about your boat insurance with our team today.

We also offer a Yachtsman’s Travel insurance policy, which is designed to support offshore sailors with their travel insurance needs. This includes £5,000,000 coverage for emergency medical expenses, which would include airlift from your boat if required. We are pleased to have a partnership with the ARC offering a discount for your sailing travel insurance policies – contact World Cruising Club to request your exclusive discount code now!

You can get a quote or apply online for travel insurance with our team today.

Are you thinking of getting a boat?

Sep 28, 2023

Sailing, with its blend of adventure, skill, and connection to the elements, is a pursuit that has captured many of our hearts. Whether you dream of leisurely cruising the open waters, or embarking on a career in the marine industry, learning to sail is a rewarding and life-changing journey. Let’s explore how to start your sailing education, earn professional qualifications, and gain valuable hands-on experience – these tips can be helpful for both new sailors, and those of you who have been away from the water for a long while!

Begin with the Basics: Beginner Courses

Embarking on your sailing journey starts with enrolling in a beginner sailing course. These courses are readily available at local sailing clubs or schools and cater to individuals with minimal or no prior sailing experience. Ideally, you will experience a mix of sailing theory – delving into the fundamentals of sailing, covering topics such as boat handling, navigation, and essential safety procedures – and practical training. This can include spending time on the water practicing manoeuvres, experiencing different weather and tidal environments, and getting comfortable with the art of sailing.

Build a Strong Foundation: Professional Qualifications

Once you’ve acquired the basics, you’ll probably wish to pursue professional qualifications, to take your sailing skills to the next level. These qualifications will not only enhance your knowledge but will also open up opportunities for various sailing-related careers in the future. The Royal Yachting Association (RYA) provide a huge selection of courses, both theory and practical, and are very well respected in the industry. Recognised internationally, RYA certifications can cover a wide range of sailing disciplines, including cruising, racing, and navigation. Additionally, the ICC (International Certificate of Competence) is another well respected qualification for those based outside the UK.

Continue to Gain Experience Through Practice

While formal education is essential, gaining practical experience is equally vital in becoming a proficient sailor. Here are some suggestions to accumulate valuable time on the water:-

Crewing Opportunities: Join a local sailing club or community and offer to crew for experienced sailors. This provides hands-on experience and an opportunity to learn from seasoned sailors.

Charter and Rentals: Renting a boat or chartering with friends or family is a great way to practice your skills and explore different types of vessels and sailing environments.

Participate in Regattas: If you’re interested in competitive sailing, consider joining regattas or local races. This not only sharpens your skills but also introduces you to the camaraderie of the sailing community.

Sailing is a lifelong learning journey. Even after obtaining professional qualifications, there’s always room for improvement and specialisation. Consider advanced courses, such as celestial navigation, weather forecasting, or racing tactics, to further hone your skills and knowledge. But, starting with beginner courses, pursuing professional qualifications, and gaining hands-on experience will set you on a positive course toward becoming a competent sailor. Remember, sailing is not just a skill; it’s a lifestyle that will give you a deep connection with the sea, a worldwide community, and a lifetime of memorable experiences.

If you would like to purchase Yachtsman’s Travel insurance to ensure you are protected whilst you learn to sail, you can find out more here: https://topsailinsurance.com/travel-insurance/yachtsmans-travel-insurance/ or contact a member of our team today.

What is Bluewater Cruising?

Sep 19, 2023

When insurers refer to “Bluewater cruising” for boats, they are talking about a specific type of sailing or boating activity that involves navigating and sailing in open ocean waters, often far from coastlines and in potentially challenging conditions.

This term is important to insurers because it represents a higher level of risk compared to coastal or inland sailing, and it can affect the terms and pricing of boat insurance policies.


Key characteristics of Bluewater cruising include:

  1. Open Ocean Navigation: Bluewater cruising typically involves extended voyages that take boats far from land and into the open ocean. Sailors may be out of sight of land for extended periods.
  2. Challenging Conditions: Cruising in open waters can involve facing a wide range of weather and sea conditions, including storms, heavy waves, and unpredictable weather patterns.
  3. Self-Sufficiency: Bluewater cruisers often need to be self-sufficient for extended periods since they may not have easy access to ports or assistance in case of emergencies.
  4. Long-Distance Travel: These voyages can cover long distances, sometimes spanning across oceans or involving circumnavigation.

Insurers use the term “Bluewater cruising” to differentiate between different types of boating activities when underwriting boat insurance policies. Because Bluewater cruising carries higher risks compared to coastal or inland sailing, insurance policies for such activities may have higher premiums and more stringent requirements, including safety equipment, vessel condition, and the qualifications and experience of the boat’s crew.


It’s essential for boat owners planning Bluewater cruises to understand the specific requirements and coverage offered by their insurance policies and ensure that they meet all the insurer’s criteria to maintain coverage while engaging in this adventurous and challenging form of boating.

We’d be delighted at Topsail Insurance to quote for any of your Bluewater requirements whether that’s a trans Atlantic crossing, cruising the southern Pacific Islands, the Caribbean or anywhere in between please get in touch with our team for a quote.

Sailing: Make it a family adventure

Sep 8, 2023

When you’re raising a family with young children, long-distance sailing can feel like it is a whole world away. However, it’s entirely possible to sail the seas as a family with proper planning in place, a positive attitude, and a commitment to creating lasting memories. Let’s explore the joys and challenges of family sailing and learn how to make your family voyage a success.

Safety first! Before embarking on a long sailing journey with your children, it is even more important than usual to ensure that your boat is well-prepared for the adventure. This includes:

Purchase life jackets that fit your children properly, and ensure they are comfortable wearing them. Familiarise your children with safety procedures, such as what to do in case of emergencies, and involve them with life on the boat to help increase their confidence.

Make your boat child-friendly by securing objects that could be hazardous or easily toppled. Use non-slip materials on deck to prevent accidents and educate your whole family on potential accidents and how to avoid or minimise the risks.

Carry a well-stocked first aid kit and know how to use everything in it. Ensure you have any necessary medications your children may require onboard, and arrange an emergency solution too – such as a 24 hour assistance helpline.

Set realistic expectations. Sailing with children is not a vacation in the traditional sense, and it’s important to set achievable goals and expectations. Be prepared for a slower pace – children may require more time to adapt to life on board and there will be ups and downs in the process. Create a flexible itinerary that allows for unexpected stops, and plan activities that cater to their interests. These can include fishing, snorkelling, stargazing, and wildlife watching – to name a few! Encourage creativity with art supplies and books, and use the opportunity to nurture their love and appreciation for the natural world.

One of the greatest advantages of sailing with children, is the educational opportunities it presents. Use the journey as a chance to teach them about geography, marine biology, meteorology, and navigation – they will see things from a completely different perspective than at school, as they learn by adventure. Involve them in tasks like chart plotting and weather observation, making learning an integral part of the journey.

Now, regardless of their lifestyle most children thrive on routine and structure. Create a daily schedule that includes meals, schoolwork or some form of education, playtime, and family activities. Having a routine can help children feel more secure and settled on board and help them to engage with the journey. Sailing can also be isolating, so it’s essential to maintain some level of social interaction for your children. Connect with other sailing families or locals when you make port stops – this is a great way to meet new people – or consider satellite communication tools for virtual play dates with friends back home.

Sailing with children is an adventure filled with unpredictable moments and flexibility and adaptability are key to making the most of these experiences. While sailing as a family does require thorough preparation and commitment, the rewards are huge and long lasting. With safety as a top priority, a sense of curiosity, and a willingness to adapt to changing circumstances, your family can embark on a life-changing journey that creates cherished memories for years to come.

If we can support your families sailing adventure, get in touch with our team today!

5 Essential Tips for First-Time Narrowboat Buyers

Aug 17, 2023

Buying a Narrowboat can be an exciting and rewarding experience, but it’s essential to make informed decisions to ensure you get the most out of your investment.

Here are 5 tips to consider when purchasing your first Narrowboat:

1. Research and Plan: Before diving into the buying process, take the time to research and educate yourself about Narrowboats. Understand the different types, sizes, and layouts available, as well as the costs involved in owning and maintaining one. Consider your intended usage, whether you plan to live on it full-time or use it for leisure trips, and the canals or waterways you wish to explore.

2. Budget Wisely: Narrowboats can vary significantly in price, so set a realistic budget based on your financial capacity. Remember that the initial cost of the boat is just the beginning; there will be ongoing expenses for mooring, insurance, maintenance, and possibly licenses. Be sure to factor in these costs to avoid any financial surprises down the line.

3. Take a Test Cruise or Hire Experience: Before committing to a purchase, try to get some hands-on experience with Narrowboats. Many marinas and boat hire companies offer opportunities for test cruises or short-term rentals. This will give you a feel for how a Narrowboat handles, its layout, and whether the lifestyle suits you. It can also help you identify any specific requirements or preferences you may have.

4. Get a Thorough Survey: Once you’ve found a Narrowboat that interests you, it’s crucial to have a professional marine survey conducted. A surveyor will inspect the boat’s structural integrity, engine, hull, electrical systems, and other essential components. This will help you uncover any potential issues or maintenance needs and can also provide valuable negotiation points with the seller.

5. Join Narrowboating Communities: Connect with other Narrowboat owners and enthusiasts through online forums, social media groups, or local boating clubs. Engaging with these communities can provide you with valuable insights, tips, and support as you embark on your Narrowboating journey. They can also help you with recommendations for reputable boatyards, service providers, and other essential resources.

Remember that whether you’re buying a Narrowboat for weekends away or to live on permanently Topsail can help you with your Narrowboat Insurance needs.  If you’re buying an older Narrowboat it’s worth checking with us up front if Insurers are likely to need a survey.

Top 9 Charter Holiday Locations Worldwide

Aug 9, 2023

Here at Topsail, we’ve been thinking about the top charter holiday locations worldwide.  It can be hugely varied of course, based on personal preference, your interests, and what you’d like to see! Here’s some of the popular charter yacht destinations, sought after by travellers:

1. The Mediterranean: This region offers a diverse range of destinations, including the French Riviera, Amalfi Coast, Greek Islands, Balearic Islands, and Turkey’s coastline. With beautiful views all around, you’ll be sure to enjoy exploring to your hearts content!

2. Caribbean: Known for its stunning turquoise waters, the Caribbean offers various options, such as the Virgin Islands, St. Barts, Antigua, and the Grenadines.

3. Seychelles: An Indian Ocean paradise with crystal-clear waters, coral reefs, and pristine beaches. Here, you can enjoy snorkelling and diving amidst the gorgeous marine life.

4. Fiji: A tropical haven in the South Pacific, boasting vibrant marine life and unique island cultures.

5. French Polynesia: Home to Tahiti, Bora Bora, and other breath-taking islands, offering luxury and seclusion. Relax on the beaches, or head to Mount Otemanu to see the sights.

6. Thailand: The Andaman Sea and Gulf of Thailand offer a mix of vibrant culture, stunning islands, and clear waters. Head off the boat and to Phuket for exciting nightlife and vibrant street markets.

7. Alaska: A unique choice for adventure seekers, offering rugged landscapes, glaciers, and wildlife. Something rather different awaits with whales, orcas, sea lions and bald eagles to be sighted!

8. Whitsunday Islands: A true tropical paradise with beautiful views and beaches to visit, as well as the Great Barrier Reef!

9. New England, USA: Coastal destinations like Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket, and Newport offer a mix of history, charm, and scenic beauty. In September and October, take in the changing seasons as autumn arrives.

Is your favourite place to charter a yacht on our list? Remember, whenever you travel abroad for a yacht charter it’s important to have a good travel insurance policy that covers your boating activities. Here at Topsail Insurance, we’ve been specialists in providing our Yachtsman’s Travel Insurance product for years. We’d be delighted to provide you with a quote and can help even if you have a number of medical conditions. Click here to find out more and make an application.