OUR BOATS

With the win­ter draw­ing in, Rick Chan­non shares some ad­vice in prepa­ra­tion for boat hi­ber­na­tion

Motorboat & Yachting - - Contents - Rick Chan­non

Rick Chan­non pre­pares for win­ter and the Flem­ing in our fleet gets a new mat­tress

Win­ter layup is prob­a­bly not a boater’s favourite time of year – but at least this year we can look back on a fan­tas­tic sum­mer of warm set­tled weather. I cer­tainly put my boat Greyfin, a Beneteau Antares 8, to good use, clock­ing up over 25 nights on board and 80 hours on her in­board diesel en­gine. How­ever it’s now time to put the boat away for win­ter.

A FLOAT OR ON THE HARD?

My first de­ci­sion was to win­ter her ashore rather than in the ma­rina. This was largely a per­sonal choice, but a de­ci­sion nev­er­the­less that af­fects win­ter­i­sa­tion tasks.

A boat sit­ting in the ma­rina is bathed in wa­ter that won’t freeze thus keep­ing the ex­tremes of tem­per­a­ture at bay. The boat can also still be used, which not only keeps all the sys­tems run­ning but also gives you the op­por­tu­nity to take ad­van­tage of an In­dian sum­mer or the oc­ca­sional beau­ti­ful win­ter’s day. The price you pay, how­ever, for leav­ing it in the wa­ter is in­creased wear and tear in a harsh en­vi­ron­ment as win­ter gales roar through. In the black of night you will wake won­der­ing whether the fend­ers have rid­den up over the pon­toon or if the warps have held. You only have to look at what hap­pened to Holy­head Ma­rina in March to see the po­ten­tial worst case sce­nario.

I chose to lay Greyfin ashore up a shel­tered val­ley where shore power and wa­ter is pro­vided (this is es­sen­tial as you are go­ing to need them). Make sure your diesel tank is full be­fore she comes out and add some diesel bug bio­cide so­lu­tion – then you will get min­i­mum con­den­sa­tion in the tank and pre­vent bug growth. Diesel, un­like petrol, does not lose its po­tency over the win­ter.

Bring­ing Greyfin ashore for me sim­ply in­volves giv­ing the boat­yard a date and they col­lect her from the moor­ing, hoist her out, pres­sure wash the hull and chock her up in the yard. There will be a choice of how you lay her up; in a pur­pose-built cra­dle, on ad­justable legs or on sim­ple wood chocks. I am happy to opt for chocks as the yard is shel­tered. If it wasn’t I would use more se­cure me­tal legs.

I also get the boat­yard to win­terise the en­gine – this in fact is her an­nual ser­vice and it is far bet­ter to do it at the end of the sea­son rather than at the be­gin­ning as more harm can be done while the en­gine sits idle over the win­ter than when reg­u­larly used in the sum­mer. The oil and fil­ter should be re­placed, as used oil has car­bon in it which is cor­ro­sive. The im­peller should be re­moved oth­er­wise hav­ing one of its blades squashed all win­ter will mis­shape it. The belts should be loos­ened or re­moved to pre­vent stretch­ing and an­tifreeze should be checked on the fresh wa­ter side and added on the raw wa­ter side, which should be flushed through with the fil­ters emp­tied. Fi­nally the fuel fil­ters should be cleaned or changed along with the air fil­ter. Don’t for­get that if your boat is rel­a­tively new or valu­able then a pro­fes­sional ser­vice is nec­es­sary to max­imise its value, main­tain guar­an­tees and ease the process should you come to sell her – and don’t for­get to get your ser­vice log stamped.

WASH AND GO

This is as far as it goes for me with the boat­yard, who at the ex­treme could do ev­ery­thing and I would sim­ply turn up in the spring with her back on the wa­ter. How­ever I will do all the other less tech­ni­cal tasks my­self as a ther­a­peu­tic close to

the sea­son. Firstly I thor­oughly wash the top­sides to re­move all salt, which would oth­er­wise at­tract mois­ture. I also pol­ish and wax the top­sides now rather than in the spring. Some peo­ple even leave the pol­ish on the hull with­out buff­ing it off. This adds an opaque white layer that fur­ther pro­tects the boat from the el­e­ments but looks a lit­tle odd un­til buffed to a shine six months later. I like to cover my boat as there are plenty of trees around and the leaves can block drains and leave stains as they rot. I use a cheap polyester tar­pau­lin that will last two sea­sons, but I ap­pre­ci­ate that big­ger boats would be trick­ier to cover. I leave the dinghy in­flated, al­beit at lower pres­sure, and un­der a tar­pau­lin on the fore­deck to aid wa­ter run off.

I then move in­side – again wash­ing down all sur­faces with dis­in­fec­tant and do­ing a tidy up, but I leave soft fur­nish­ings on board and have never found they de­te­ri­o­rate.

WA­TER WORKS

Next I tackle the do­mes­tic wa­ter sys­tems. I run the wa­ter tank and all the pumps dry, drain the wa­ter heater as much as pos­si­ble us­ing the pres­sure re­lief/drain valve and, im­por­tantly, drain the pipework lead­ing to the deck wash and tran­som shower, as these are vul­ner­a­ble.

De­pen­dent upon where you live and the harsh­ness of your win­ter, you may wish to flush these sys­tems through with non-toxic an­tifreeze that you put into your wa­ter tank. Corn­wall is pretty mild, so I find a heater and de­hu­mid­i­fier are enough to stop it freez­ing.

I leave my bat­ter­ies on the boat and con­nected to the boat’s charger us­ing shore power to trickle charge them over the win­ter. I also visit the boat once a month to use the bat­ter­ies heav­ily as they like to be dis­charged. I will switch on items like the fridge, TV and plot­ter to do this while I’m busy with other jobs.

Lastly I set to lu­bri­cat­ing any­thing that moves, open the sea­cocks, clean the wind­lass and re­place any an­odes that have eroded by more than a quar­ter.

I set up a des­ic­cant de­hu­mid­i­fier in the main cabin that drains through the sink. I find this type of de­hu­mid­i­fier much bet­ter than the com­pres­sor type as it ac­tu­ally heats the air and you can get a 10-de­gree gain in air tem­per­a­ture. Un­for­tu­nately air hu­mid­ity drops as the weather gets colder so you can’t guar­an­tee the de­hu­mid­i­fier will kick in just when you need its heat­ing ef­fect the most. There­fore, just to be safe, I also set up a small 60w tubu­lar heater on frost set­ting down in the bilges so that it will come on should it get very cold.

I have now done the best I can to leave the boat clean, aired, frost pro­tected and me­chan­i­cally sound – how­ever, I won’t stay away as I’m sure to find projects to do over the win­ter – to­tally un­nec­es­sary but fun!

I f your boat is new or valu­able then a ser­vice is nec­es­sary to main­tain guar­an­tees

Greyfin chocked up on the hard stand­ing

Rick rigs up a heater in the en­gine­room Drain­ing the wa­ter heater avoids frozen pipework

Rick leaves the sea­cocks open when the boat is on the hard A de­hu­mid­i­fier helps keep damp at bay

Pre­pare for the worst that the win­ter weather can throw at your boat

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