As the recreational sailing and boating season comes to an end, it is that time of year again when boat owners have to get their vessels out of the water and onto dry land, and ideally placed in a shelter or garage for the winter months. Although some boat owners will be happy to leave their boat moored up in a marina all year round, the winter weather can be especially hard on your boat, causing excess corrosion, rust and moisture penetration. It also means you never get a chance to antifoul your boat which when left for several seasons can be difficult to remove and affect the gel surface of your vessel. For the purpose of this short article we will discuss the most important maintenance tasks to do when you take your boat out of the water.
1) An Autumn Clean: This is an ideal opportunity to scrub you boat from top to bottom. If you sail on salt water you will need to power wash everything including your sails, to remove any salt residue. This will prolong the life of your sails and sheets which as we all know can cost a pretty penny to replace. Make sure all canvas is completely dry before storing. Wash the decks, trims, topsides and bottom of decks. Applying a coat of wax will preserve your decks surface and leave it in good condition for next season. Use a top quality antifouling paint to clean the bottom of your boat and follow manufacturer’s instructions for best results.
2) Washout Cooling System: If you have an inboard engine it will be necessary to flush the cooling system with fresh water to remove all salt and contaminants and thus minimize corrosion. If you live in a cold winter climate it will be necessary to put a sufficient amount of antifreeze back into the water mix to avoid frost damage which can result in a costly repair bill if it freezes over.
3) Fuel System: A common problem in fuel tanks is the build-up of condensation in cold weather. To avoid this simply top up your fuel tank and after completing task 2 above, run your engine for a while to both fuel and water have circulated thoroughly.
4) “Fill her up and check the Oil” As part of your engine service, it goes without saying you should change the oil and oil filter. To maximize the effect it is best to do this after the engine has been running and is still warm which helps to remove all the impurities in the old oil.
5) Oil, Oil and more Oil: Using a good quality moisture displacing lubricant, go around your complete boat and lubricate any moving parts such as hinges, latches, winches, linkages, push-pull switches, ratchet mounts, bow rollers and the like before storing for the winter. This will ensure easy usability when you go back in the water next season.
6) It is important to inspect your propeller for shaft seal and fishing line damage by removing it and cleaning it thoroughly.
7) Prevent Water Penetration. Check your boat from Stern to Bow for any signs of surface damage or cracks to fiberglass that could lead to water leaking in and repair accordingly. Remove any standing water or oil spills in storage areas or live wells and clean thoroughly, then place commercial moisture absorbers in storage areas to eliminate mound or mildew build-up.
8) If possible take out all cushions and store indoors over the winter. Leave all cupboard doors and drawers open to allow for air circulation. It is best to remove as much equipment as possible such as life jackets, flares, fenders, ski ropes, harnesses, dock lines etc. and store indoors in a dry storage area. Remove all electronic equipment such as VHF radios, GPS/chart plotters, radar equipment etc. and disconnect all batteries and top up electrolyte levels regularly.
9) Check all cables and electrics for damage and corrosion and replace where necessary.
10) If you leave your boat on a trailer, prop up the axles and remove the wheels to reduce long term damage to your tyres. This can be a good time to grease wheel bearings and check for wear. Make sure all props are secured in place.
Finally so you manage to get your boat out of the water and it’s spic and span and ready to hibernate for the winter. Next thing you will need somewhere to put it. You always have the option to buy a boat cover, but more often than not water will pool in or the wind will disturb it over stormy days bringing you back to square one again. Here at storageshedsdirect.com we have many economical robust solutions to store your boat, most popular are our portable shelters and instant garages to complete metal garages that come in all shapes and sizes from 20ft long right up 65ft long and many are designed just for this job. Check out our Portable Shelters and Garage Buildings that will keep your boat snug as a bug during the cold winter blazing blizzards.