Is your vessel ready for the colder months? Make sure you’re prepared with these top tips from Fortis Marine on how to winterise your boat.
Winterising prolongs the life of your boat and helps you avoid any nasty surprises come spring. The ‘off season’ is also the perfect time to get work done on your boat so you’re ready to enjoy the first days of the warmer season when they finally come back around.
Ideally, to keep your boat in tip-top shape, you will want to store it out of the water. This can be costly but will avoid higher risks of damage that any in-water storage situation may present. Once your boat is lifted, you should pressure wash and scrape any barnacles off the hull before sanding off any imperfections or leftover residue.
The next step is to check all underwater fittings and make sure anodes are secured and check if they need replacing. Once the underside is fully cleaned, inspect for any stress cracks or blisters, anything suspicious should be examined and repaired by an expert.
The winter elements can be harsh, so being able to cover up your boat is ideal. Not only will this prevent your boat from the wind, rain and snow but it will also provide you with a good shelter to carry out any work required. The best method of covering your yacht would be storing it inside. However not many people have this luxury, so the next best thing is shrink wrapping.
Remove your sails before your boat is lifted out and inspect for any damage, paying attention to the batten pockets and stitching. If anything needs repairing then this is the time to do so.
Now is also the opportunity to have your sails laundered and stored down below or in a dry environment. Halyards, sheets and other lines will become covered in salt during the season; they should be moused out and washed in soapy water. At the same time check their condition for chafes and fraying, replacing as necessary.
A thorough inspection of the rig is beneficial at this stage, too. Look for any problems now to avoid a rush later on. Pay attention to the area around fittings including swages, spreaders and rigging terminals. Check the halyard sheaves run smoothly and lubricate them with silicon spray. Check all your deck gear to make sure everything is functioning. Now is also the perfect opportunity to work out any deck layout and fittings modifications to take place over winter.
The inside of your boat can be the perfect environment for mould. Remove as many items as you can from the boat such as clothes, food, pots, pans and so on. Remove all your upholstery and bedding as mould tends to go for warm, damp places. Keep your boat ventilated by opening all the doors and use a dehumidifier to keep the dry air circulating. A tube heater will keep the temperature above freezing so this should be used, too. Turn on the hot and cold taps to empty water tanks and calorifier. Flush/drain any toilets and holding tanks. Make sure you have turned off any gas supplies.
Your engine is susceptible to many problems over the winter period so requires a bit of attention to keep it in shape during the winter months. The least you can do for your engine is to ensure there is adequate antifreeze in the cooling system (if there is not enough your pipes could potentially swell up and burst, leading to expensive cost to fix or replace them). It is also worth filling the fuel tank so that condensation can’t form within it, leading to bacteria that could contaminate your fuel. It is also recommended to have an annual service on your engine, replacing filters and changing the oil, remembering the sail drive.
The safety inventory should be examined annually and this winter period provides you with the perfect opportunity to do so. Check the expiry dates on all flares and EPIRBs as well as arranging services for the liferaft and lifejackets. Jackstays and harness lines should be checked for chafe and if the jackstays are more than 10 years old, or five years if kept in a sunny climate, they should be replaced due to likely UV damage.
These are our minimum recommendations when looking to winterise your boat!
For more extensive work you should have your boat winterised professionally. At Fortis Marine their winterisation programme includes all of the above, storage ashore in their work area behind their offices and inspection and service of systems in preparation for the new season. Email them today for a complimentary winter estimate at email@example.com.