Store your Boat for the winter
Laying your boat up for the winter
BOAT owners are starting to plan their winter lay up now as the 2017 season is coming to a close. Many will be hoping for an Indian summer given the main boating season has been very wet. With yard space at a premium on the west coast, it pays to book in early for your craft. If not already booked, contact your preferred yard now and work to the haul out timings set by the yard. Usually the yard takes care of everything needed and has various rules re mast removal and storage. Some yards offer undercover facilities and these also need to be booked early since demand for this is high. It is also time to think about any work needed on the boat especially if it is to be done by your chosen yard team. To maintain your craft in a good, seaworthy condition, a good programme of winter lay-up maintenance is essential. Preparation at this stage will pay dividends for speedy fitting out next spring. Some key areas need to be considered in laying up your boat, some depending on whether it is a sail or motor boat – Keel, hull, topsides, deck, cockpit Freezing damage prevention Interior Sails Rigging Engine/Batteries/Electrics Safety Equipment Many owners will carry out most winter lay up tasks themselves so a quick basic check list should be made up and worked through. A general list of equipment should include - roll of duct tape, clean cotton rags, adjustable and plumbing wrenches, full tool set, oil and filters, petroleum jelly, boat wax, polishing machine and boat and equipment manuals. Keel/hull/topsides/deck/cockpit Pressure washing the hull on lift out removes fouling and prepares the surface for new anti-fouling in the spring. The yard normally does this on lift out. The cleaned hull can be inspected for any damage and repairs carried out as required depending on weather and temperature conditions. A first overview is of the general condition of keel/hull/topsides/decks and fittings after the season’s wear and tear. Check keelbolts, any play in the rudder/cutlass bearings and the prop-shaft and for any cracks in the hull and keel. A good wash down of the whole boat and a protective wax on the topsides gives protection over the winter and makes fitting out easier in spring. Thoroughly clean cockpit and touch up any paint or woodwork here and on deck if the weather is good. Covering the boat is preferable when stored outside but make sure covers are well secured, allow for ventilation and watch for chafing at regular intervals. Some yards will shrink wrap. Equally, make sure your cradle, trailer or support legs are secure and the trim of the boat is slightly bow up to make sure water won't run forward and puddle in places it shouldn't. Remove speed transducer impellers before lift out so there will be no damage from hoist strops. Regular inspection over the winter is important in case cockpit drains get blocked by leaves/debris and water builds up. Prevention of freezing damage – water systems Work to prevent any freezing damage and the prevention of water damage is essential. Boat manuals should give an idea of pipe work runs. Starting with ‘plumbing’ systems – anything that holds or carries water ie pipes and tanks, pumps and strainers must be fully drained – pumped dry if necessary. Flush water systems through with a water sanitizer first. Flush heads through, drain and lubricate disconnecting hoses to allow them to ‘breathe’. Drain down any water heaters or calorifiers. Flush seacocks through to remove salt build up and grease. Remove the barrels from traditional style seacocks to prevent them seizing. Interior A clean up of the boat’s interior is really important for winter lay up. Some owners choose to remove as much equipment as possible and take home and store. Clear plastic stack boxes are good to allow inspection of contents which should all be cleaned before packing – these can easily be brought back to the boat in the spring. Berth cushions and soft furnishings in particular are susceptible to mould over the winter and will benefit from being cleaned and stored at home. Installing a de-humidifier and heater will also keep the interior warm and dry. Washing the interior thoroughly including lockers, bilges, cookers and toilets with a weak bleach mixture will prevent mould. Always ventilate the boat well and do any touch up work inside when weather permits. Check gas systems on board are up to standard with a gas engineer. Now is a good time to check fire extinguishers and replace as necessary in the spring. Sails These are the powerhouse of the sailing craft so keep them in good condition. Check over and seek advice on all aspects of sail maintenance and repair from your local sail loft. If you need new sails this is a good time to place an order. Many lofts offer a discount during September. Sail cleaning is sometimes offered and even storage. Storing at home must be in a dark, warm well-ventilated area away from rodents. Standing and Running rigging With rigging and deck equipment under huge loads, it’s essential to keep an eye on wear and replace as required. Check sheaves, swages, split-pins and spreader mounts for corrosion. Wash everything with fresh water. Substitute halyards with messenger lines to aid longevity. Inspect for chafe and wash and dry halyards/ sheets before storing in a dry place. With the mast down, check masthead instrumentation and masthead blocks are running freely. Remove anchors and chain and store on a pallet below
the boat washing first with fresh water to remove salt and dirt. Service anchor winches and check over chain links and shackles for wear. If the weather is good this is an ideal time to paint out the anchor locker for the spring. Engines, Batteries, Electrics Both inboard and outboard engines need to be prepared for winter with an oil change as standard. New oil prevents internal corrosion and protects the engine standing over the winter. Boat manuals will help in this regard or get the yard to do this important work. Flush the outboard through with fresh water. Replace fresh cooling water with antifreeze/water mix. Remove the impeller and plug the air and exhaust outlet with an oil soaked rag. Fill fuel tank to prevent condensation and add a biocide. Change filters as required and bleed system for next season. Change engine and gearbox oil and make a note of the date of change. Safety Equipment A complete overhaul of lifejackets, harnesses and safety gear should be carried out replacing anything that looks suspect. Lifejackets can be stored partially inflated over the winter. Check bottles for corrosion and replace as required. Kits are available from chandlers. Flare packs should be kept in a dry area – check for out of date flares and replace for next season. The RNLI offers a safety check on boats and safety equipment. Clean and repair dinghy tenders, storing partially inflated. Life rafts should be removed and serviced by an authorised centre. Expert advice on any issue with your boat is on hand from your local boat-yard operator, service engineer, chandler or sail-maker if there’s anything you’re unsure about. These are the experts so don’t hesitate to ask if you need to. Once the boat is laid up safely with all maintenance in hand, owners can relax and enjoy planning the boating season for 2018.