Winter is here. But is your boat prepared?
Winter can be a difficult time for your boat. Even if you take it off the water, there are still considerable risks. For one thing, wear and tear accelerates when boats are left inactive for long periods of time. This is why it’s important to do the right prep.
Here are our top tips for preparing your boat for the off-season.
Take it out of the water
- For a boat to stay in peak condition, it should be stored off the water during the winter months. Of course, storage is expensive, so you will need to decide whether the benefits are worth it to you.
- The benefits we speak of include minimising repair and maintenance bills, reducing the likelihood of damage caused by the elements and having the opportunity to properly service your boat ahead of the summer months.
- If you do take her off the water, but only have access to outside storage, be sure to purchase a cover that fits correctly. This will stop water from getting into open hatches or settling in window cracks.
(See Rust doesn’t sleep for more on this!)
Cover the basics
- Stale or clogged fuel is bad news for an engine, so be sure to drain old fuel. Then replace it with new fuel, and double-check there’s no water in your tank (often caused by rain or condensation). Blocked filters can do real damage to an engine.
- Just like a car, a boat battery doesn’t bode well if left inactive for a long time. Invest in a small solar panel or a trickle charger to keep it ticking over.
- Check your electrics are in order, including nav equipment and radios.
- Give safety equipment a once over too. Now is the time to replace lifejackets, EPIRBs, flares, fire extinguishers, and anything else likely to save your skin in an emergency.
- Keep in mind that flares expire after a limited time. So set a reminder on your phone to purchase new flares before the season starts.
- Schedule a service for your motor now rather than later. That way you’re ready to hit the water as soon as the weather warms up. At the very least, a mechanic should check your engine tilt/trim, water pump impeller and outboard hydraulics.
Can’t take her off the water?
- If you aren’t able to take your boat off the water, then it’s vital that mooring ropes have an adequate amount of slack.
- Your berth may experience extreme rises and falls during winter, so you’ll need enough rope to handle big variations.
- If you’re not sure how much slack is enough, ask a veteran (or Google) about what variations to expect.
Rust doesn’t sleep
- If your boat is going into storage for the winter, then make sure the bilge is clean and dry. This will reduce the likelihood of corrosion, which can spread quickly. (Invest in a well-fitted cover if you’re storing your boat outside.)
- While you’re at it, look for hull damage, including cracks. Contact a qualified repairer if anything is remiss.
Neither does mould
- Mould and mildew also work around the clock, especially when soft furnishings are in the mix.
- If you can’t take soft furnishings off the boat, then keep them ventilated by hanging them up. Mould finds it harder to grow in the presence of good airflow.
- Now you’ve done the hard work, don’t forget to check on your boat regularly to ensure everything is in order.
- If you do notice signs of mould, rust or anything else, take action as soon as possible. Catching issues before they become big problems will save you stress, money and time in the long run. It will also help you get on the water as soon as conditions are right.
For information on insuring your boat over the winter months, talk to our marine insurance experts.