It may not be something that any of us enjoy but winterising is an essential element of boat maintenance. The time, effort and funds you spend for the winter period will definatively effect your vessel’s performance come Spring.
Ideally winterisation should begin before the boat is out the water and the temperature starts to drop. This gives you plenty of time to fully service your boat and repair any damages that may have occurred over the spring and summer. It’s also important to maintain winterising activity until spring has begun. It’s good to bear in mind that many insurance policies will not cover damage done by lack of maintenance.
Preparing properly will help protect the controls and electrics in your engine, incase any damp creeps in from the wet weather. Damp can also creep into the inside of the boat, so it’s important that your furnishings are protected, preventing nasty smells and possible mould.
Top tips to winterising a boat:
• Ventilation is key as it will ensure your boat stays damp and mildew free. The best way to prevent this is by installing some secure deck hatches and boat vents.
• A dehumidifier is essential is your boat is prone to getting damp. Add a little heat and ventilation over the winter months to keep everything dry. The Waveline Portable Dehumidifier is a great value option, suitable for a wide range of boats.
• Remove items from the boat that are likely to soak up and damp that creeps in, any movable materials such as bedding, clothing etc. Also make sure all food is emptied from cupboards and fridges.
• Leaving all drawer and cabinet doors open will allow the air to filter around.
• Leaving a cabin heater on a low thermostat will provide a little warmth and prevent mildew/mould built up. These slimline tube heaters are ideal as they have a built in thermostat.
• Empty the toilet and pump it dry with a toilet pump to avoid that horrible job when the spring comes around.
• Drain down all your water systems to stop freezing pipework and appliances and add antifreeze to the engine’s cooling system. We’d recommend the StarBrite -50°C Non Toxic Anti Freeze as it’s non toxic and ideal for water systems and engines.
• Empty and sponge out the bilges.
• Turn off your gas from the bottle and make sure you burn off any gas in the pipes.
• If possible keep your batteries fully charged with a multi-stage shore power charger, just to keep things ticking over or add distilled water to batteries, charge completely and disconnect.
• Change your engine oil to prevent building up acidic traces in the old oil and contaminating the engines parts.
• Top off your fuel tanks – this will stop condensation from forming , preventing diesel bug contamination. To prevent contamination use a fuel treatment or additive.
• Ultra Violet light can really damage your boats equipment – cover all compasses and built in electronics to prevent the light from cracking or fading their features.
If you plan to take your boat out of the water this winter then you may want to consider the following:
• Put a old cloth or rag up your through-hull fittings and also your exhaust.
• Remove all fenders. This will prevent them from scratching he outside of your boat if the wind picks up.
By following these suggestions you give yourself the best chance of keeping your vessel in shape over the winter months. Always make sure to refer to your boat’s owner manual from the manufacturer when carrying out any maintenance.