Hints and tips on laying up a boat for the winter


Humidity and the subsequent damp can cause a lot of damage to fabrics on board, black mould is especially nasty and hard to remove. There are several ways that matters can be improved.

1. Remove the primary causes - ideally use a dehumidifier and a small heater, this will go a long way to improving matters.
2. Remove any fabrics that you can and store them at home, wash or dry clean if possible.
3. Open all interior lockers so that there is free air flow, this will help to reduce condensation.
4. Make sure that air can circulate freely through the boat, leave a hatch open just enough to allow the air through.
5. Make sure that the bilges are kept as dry as possible, leave the cabin sole open if possible.
6. Drain your water systems (this will prevent frost damage and don't forget to drain the water heater too).
7. Wipe all surfaces with a good quality kitchen surface cleaner - non abrasive naturally.
8. Take home all the clothing and lifejackets, if they've been used, they'll be salty and water loves salt.

Mooring lines - If you're staying afloat for the winter, and it's well worth it, there are some great days sailing to be had... Double up your fore and aft mooring lines and if you're on a pontoon berth double the springs too. Check carefully all lines for wear and tear, they can get badly damaged over the winter. One useful tip is to place the line in clear plastic tubing where it passes through the fairlead. This saves wear on the line and helps prevent damage to the topsides.

Batteries - Often forgotten - top up the distilled water (not gel batteries), disconnect from the electrical systems and use a good quality trickle charger to keep them full.

- It's always worth changing oils and filters if you're up to it. Old engine oil contains a percentage of water and this can condense and cause rust spots in inconvenient places so try and get some extra oil down the cylinder bores. Take outboards home and winterise as per the owners manual. Doing this will increase their lifespan considerably. Petrol should be drained and used elsewhere, it doesn't last like it used to. Diesel should have an additive put in the tank, if this is for the winter only, add it and run the engine so that it gets all the way up to the fuel injectors.

- take these off and get them home or to a sail maker for cleaning. An additional benefit of using a sail maker is that the sails get stored for free over the winter. If you want a DIY solution, rinse them down and clean with sail cleaner.
- take off the bottles and store in the garden shed or garage. Make sure all internal gas taps are closed and tape a plastic bag over the regulator.

Seacocks - These get forgotten - clean and grease- and while you are at it, grease the winches too!

Fenders - If still afloat, give them a good clean to get the seasons muck off them. If you have fender socks, wash them - they are great grit traps. Dishwashers bring fenders up like new. You could try some fender cleaner which is nearly as good as a dishwasher.

Running rigging (ropes and lines). Take these off and get them home. These can be soaked in the bath but if you want really clean bits of rope, put them in a bag such as a pillow case or duvet cover and put them on a 40 degree wash in the washing machine.

Boat Cleaning. Make sure that you give the boat a good wash and clean, and if you're up to it, a polish too. This will make your life a little easier next year and the boat will benefit too. Don't forget to get behind the cooker and give the cool box/fridge an extra special bleachy fresh going over - leave the doors open too.

The Heads. Often forgotten but these need your love too. Clean the whole shebang with hot soapy water with a splash of disinfectant and don't forget to the surrounding splash damage area. Normally we'd use a splash of olive oil (not necessarily virgin) to keep the mechanism lubricated but this is not really sufficient for the periods involved. You could do worse that use this stuff it works well and may just save you having to buy a service kit in the spring. Don't clean the boat loo with the same products you'd use at home, they're not nice to boaty bits.

Anchors and Chain
Remove these from the boat and leave them under, the rain will wash the salt off. Give the anchor locker a good rinse out.

With thanks to Marine Store for the above information - www.marinestore.co.uk

Telephone 01621 854280
Email chandlery@marinestore.co.uk