Ships Blog Winter Care 2016

British Marine member, Coleman Insurance Brokers, is offering practical advice to boat owners to ensure that their boats are put into hibernation for the winter in good condition, thereby making their re-commissioning in the Spring a much more straightforward task, and reducing potential insurance risks.

Yacht & Commercial Craft Development Executive, Tony Pauffley, commented:“A lot of the advice that we are giving is very straight forward but often forgotten and this can cause unnecessary problems for owners.”

“At this time of year many people move from harbour moorings to a marina berth or ashore in the boat yard and we would always recommend checking with your insurance company if there are restrictions on the time that you are able to stay on a particular mooring.”

“The domestic water system should be fully drained and recharged with a non- toxic antifreeze mixture to avoid small amounts of water getting trapped and then subsequently freezing and damaging the plumbing system.”

“Wash down the topsides and deck. We suggest a disinfectant solution is used in the interior to prevent any build- up of mould and mildew inside whilst laid up. Ensure that you thoroughly dry cleaned surfaces as any damp in the boat will cause damage to the interior. Now is a great time to declutter your boat too. It’s best to store the bunk cushions at home but if this is not possible leave them lifted in order that the air can circulate. If a dehumidifier and low level heating is going to be used throughout the winter months, make sure that they are safely installed and checked.”

“The Holding tanks should be emptied and a disinfectant and anti- freeze mix added. This will prevent damage and deterioration to the tank. Add the same mix to the Heads which will allow the valves to move freely and stop them freezing. Check your owner’s manual to make sure that an alcohol-based antifreeze won’t damage your system.”

“Advice for preparing your engine for winter will alter depending on your plan of use over the winter and the type of installation. Care of your vessel’s engine during any period of inactivity is crucial as this is the time when most damage to engines is done. Common problems are internal corrosion, electrolysis and frost damage. Unless you are a particular expert you should talk to your engineer about what are the best practises for your individual engine as there are so many different options and they can vary significantly depending on your boat and engine type.”

“Disconnect and remove batteries, or alternatively set up a battery charger to maintain it through any long period of inactivity.”

“Check and clean the Hull, followed by a thorough polish will make it much easier to keep the boat looking good over the next season.”

“Remove sails and when they are dry, fold and store. Now could be a good opportunity to take them to your local sail loft and have them cleaned and checked over. Consider the same for your running rigging, remembering to mouse internal halyards.”

“If the vessel is afloat Seacocks should be closed, except for in the cockpit and the deck drains. Remember to open them before you use the boat again. If you winter ashore leave the Seacocks open but service them whilst ashore, checking for any electrolysis damage. We would encourage you to visit your local boat yard to gain advice.”

“Antifouling and changing anodes in most areas are an annual must do.”

“Provide your boat with a properly fitting cover to protect it from rain, snow and frost and ensure that covers are secure – winter weather will be sure to find any weakness.”

“Consider who is going to keep an eye on your boat if you are unable to make regular visits yourself. This is so important to do as things can go wrong and we have had incidents when power has failed on those coldest of nights, mooring warps have broken in the winds and fenders have moved. Problems such as these require immediate correction. It is important that you don’t just abandon your boat when not in use and that you can show due diligence to your insurer.”

Concluding, Tony advised:“We urge boat owners to put in place a plan to maintain and protect your boat over the winter months which will help provide trouble free enjoyment of your boat going forward. The tips that I have given in this article are intended as useful information only and I would always strongly recommend that a boat owner refers to their owner’s manual for manufacturer’s advice and guidance and always looks to seek the advice of professionals when in doubt.”