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Time to prepare your boat for winter

Time to prepare your boat for winter

Purchasing your boat was likely to be a major investment and part of a long term plan for many years of enjoyment. Following the many months of enjoyment And fun you have experienced over the spring and summer, it is now time to repay your boat with some TLC and prepare it for the Winter months so that many more months of enjoyment and trouble free boating can take place again next year.

  1. Consider Lifting Ashore Your boat is going to be much safer and happier on dry land, and your stern gear will be relieved too. If leaving afloat, extra warps and fenders will give peace of mind in a period of worse weather and will require you to make fewer visits to check on your pride and joy, although you might appreciate the excuse of leaving the home to check on your pride and joy when the relatives pop round on Christmas day!

  2. Have the engine serviced and winterised Having your engine serviced and winterised at this time year will mean that your pride and joy will sit through the winter with fresh oil in and coolant should be topped up with antifreeze and at maximum strength. The added benefit of having this done at this time of year is, you won’t be desperately trying to organise a pre-season service at the same time as everyone else. Who knows, you may find a quiet mechanic who will appreciate this work at this time of year, and may well cost you less, than arranging for this work to be carried out when everyone else wants to put their boat back in the water.

  3. Disconnect the Batteries If it is possible to remove your batteries and take them home and place them on trickle charge, this is ideal only if you have taken your boat ashore for winter. But only do this if your boat is ashore-wintering afloat, you need to maintain power to automatic bilge pumps. If not, top up your batteries.

  4. Drain down the water system This is a simple job and can be as easy as turning on your taps until no water leaves the taps and that it has all gone. Be aware however, of low points in your plumbing that might hold water and drain those down separately. If you have a hot water system then your calorifier will need emptying via its drain down valve. And finally, remove the head from your transform shower and drain the hose (being so exposed, these are the first to freeze and crack).

  5. Ensure the toilet is pumped dry and holding tank is emptied If you opt to leave your boat afloat, close all seacocks (but put a note by the helm to ensure engines aren’t started with them shut). If ashore, leave them open as the ball valve will retain a small amount of water when closed which can freeze. Running a small amount of washing up liquid or vegetable oil will help keep seals soft.

  6. Keep the interior warm and dry If you have shore power, consider keeping a tubular greenhouse heater on low (leave all interior doors and cupboards open so air can circulate throughout). Dehumidifiers are also popular and efficient, you want the desiccant type, not the more common compressor types – they’re less efficient at low temperatures. Unless you’re able to empty it regularly, you’ll need to set it up so it can drain into a sink. If afloat, make sure it is secure!

  7. Remove upholstery Remove as many cushions and soft furnishings (including curtains) from inside and outside as you can and store them somewhere warm and dry. Clothes and bedding also need to come off. Mould and mildew from a cold, damp winter is one of the hardest things to remove.

  8. Keep the fuel tanks full If you brim the fuel tanks, provides less room for condensation to form which can encourage the dreaded diesel bug.

  9. Service safety equipment Take lifejackets off and get them serviced (an annual event) and check your life raft service interval. Again, a job for the autumn, not two days before you launch when everyone else is wanting theirs done too. Check your fire extinguisher service date while you’re at it (including the ones in the engine bay) and the expiry date of your flares.


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