Why should you Winterise your boat..?
We may think boats float so are fairly weather proof, but the truth is that all boats are made from materials and components that require maintenance. As Boat Owners we also know that prevention is far better and less expensive than the cure. Following a few simple steps can help reduce expenditure and inconvenience when next Year's Season arrives.
What's right for my type of boat
All boats differ and for that reason we'd recommend you talk to the experts. Mechanics, Boat Yards, Marinas and Gardiennage Companies will be able to advise what's right for your type of boat. As a general guide we've listed the main considerations for Winterising a boat below.
Nothing beats a good clean. Give your boat a final wash down, deep clean and polish, taking time to make sure your boat is particularly clean around the water line. A quick lift out to clean the hull and some extra elbow grease on stains that could potentially become permanent will make your pride and joy a delight to return to in Spring. Fibreglass cleaner to remove any build ups and a polish or wax for painted surfaces will help prepare your boat for the Winter.
Time for the Winter Coat to come out. Whether you have a cover or tarpaulin, these can help reduce the chances of stress cracks, Gelcoat and UV damage. Breathable covers allow for air circulation, reducing the risk of moisture or stagnant air building up underneath. A good quality cover or canvas can be worth its weight in gold and get your boat through a tough Winter. If your boat has sails, a bimini or covering canvas shades, it's an idea to store these in a cool and dry place. It's also a perfect time to launder, wash or repair your sails in preparation for the Spring. Many Sailmakers offer storage solutions for sails during the Winter Period.
Engines, Oils and Lubricants. When it comes to engines there are many things we can do to prepare for Winter, but this depends on your skill as a DIY Boat Owner. Changing Oil Filters, introducing Antifreeze, changing transmission fluids, adding lubricant or grease to engine fittings may form part of an annual checklist for experienced Boat Owners, but if you're not familiar with engines we recommend you speak to an expert who can advise on your boat and engine type. You can find your local companies listed under "Engine Servicing & General Maintenance".
Things that power your boat. Electrical and Fuel Systems keep many boats running throughout the year. Particular care should be taken with these systems during the Winter, such as checking the batteries and making sure they are charged at least once a month. Filling your fuel tanks can help to minimise water and condensation build up in the tank, and the end of the season is also a great time to change those fuel filters and add a fuel stabiliser if you choose.
Boat Interiors. The interior of your boat should always enjoy a complete deep clean. Many boats have "a smell of their own" which can intensify during the Winter. To avoid this Bilges should be thoroughly cleaned, drawers, fridges, heads and toilets should also be cleaned and powered or drained down. It's a good idea to remove any soft furnishings, seating cushions and bedding during the Winter. A dehumidifier is a great solution for boats with fixed seating or upholstery and always remember to empty the fresh water tank as this will stagnate through the Winter.
Storing your boat. There are a few ways you can choose to store your boat, either on a trailer, in the water or on a scaffold.
- If you're using a trailer, it's really important to check the health of the trailer especially the tyres. Storing the trailer on blocks so the wheels are raised and checking the rollers and bunks will also help protect your boat from damage.
- If you're storing your boat on a scaffold, ensure the jack stands are positioned on the bulk heads and for sailboats the keel should be blocked to support the weight. Chaining the legs of the scaffold together can help prevent slippage and dont cover any part of the scaffold with tarpaulin - in windy weather this can move or blow the whole scaffold from underneath your boat.
- If you store your boat in the water, it's essential to "over-tie" your boat with extra ropes. Cross lines and over fendering can help reduce damage caused by repetitive rubbing. De-icers will keep water circulating and it goes without saying make sure all seacocks are closed.
Keeping you safe for the next Season. Safety Equipment is hopefully rarely used, but this can mean it also gets forgotten. Now is the perfect time to get lifejackets, flares and rafts serviced. Fire exstinguishers and carbon monoxide monitors will also need to be checked, and don't forget to top up the First Aid Kit if you've had the misfortune to use it during the last Season.
With a few protective steps, your boat will be ready and able to give you the 2020 you're looking for....!