The time of the year has come, when days get shorter and darker, and cold snaps are more and more frequent. Sailing and boating activities are rather limited, and it is the perfect opportunity for boat owners to inspect and service their vessels for any damages that may have occurred over the season. Adding to weather elements, and as boating slows down, extended periods of inactivity can also influence your vessel's condition.
At St. Katharine Docks Marina, we acknowledge that winterising your boat is an essential element of boat maintenance and we have carefully gathered some of the necessary preparations you need to have in your check list to protect your boat from the elements of cold weather.
Did you know that...?
- Boats kept in water have less chances of sudden freezes, as water retains heat for longer than air.
- However, rapidly changing and freezing temperatures are the most likely cause of damage during winter.
Visual Inspection: Observe your boat from bow to stern and take care of the lower, more inaccessible units. You should be alert and look out for fuses and loose wiring connections, signs of corrosion, exterior cracking or broken insulations. With less boating activity, winter is the right time to prevent minor problems before they become major ones at busier times when you are more likely to want to enjoy the boat.
Cleaning: You are advised to pressure wash the entire hull and deck gear to remove any salt, dirt or corrosion. Deep cleaning your boat before winter, will help you to avoid hard-to-remove mould marks in spring. All pieces of equipment, sails and boat parts need to be carefully dried after cleaning to avoid accumulated moisture. It would be recommended to lubricate any critical systems and apply marine grease to the metal fittings to avoid sudden freezing, especially during long periods of storage.
Equipment: It is essential that you remove and store your equipment for off-season and keep it indoors for over the winter, to protect them from damage or loss. Marine batteries should be charged to prevent them from degenerating while not in use so often.
Engine: Winterising the engine ensures that there is no threat from water left in the cooling system that might freeze and cause damage. First flush the engine with fresh water to remove any remaining salt or dirt and drain carefully. Use oil pump extractors to change the oil in the engine to prevent damage from residual moisture and acids. Thoroughly clean the valves, pistons and combustion chambers to remove gum and protect against rust. It is also suggested to spray fogging oil into the engine cylinders to prevent corrosion. If you are not sure of any of this, why not call upon a professional?
Fuel: It is highly recommended to top off your fuel tank as high as possible to avoid build-up of condensation and treat with a stabilizer to stop gum from forming.
Visit regularly: We carry out daily dock patrols in the marina, but please try to visit your boat as regularly as possible to check everything is as it should be. Boats should not be left for long periods without some form of inspection of the mooring and its condition. When you visit the boat, you are advised to turn the engine on for at least 30 minutes until it reaches its normal temperature and clean any rainwater or fallen leaves.
We strongly believe that, having these points in your check list, will facilitate your winterisation process and ensure the safety and security of your vessel even through tough winter periods. For any further information, please click here.