PREPARING YOUR BOAT FOR COLD WEATHER
In Australia, we are fortunate in that our winters are mild and most areas don’t have to face bitter cold months. However, that doesn’t mean we are exempt from winter and don’t need to make preparations for winter on our boats. Part of the battle is the colder temperatures itself but also, wear and tear are accelerated when our boat is not regularly in use. So, even if the temperature isn’t that cold, it still might be worth taking some of these measures to ensure your boat is in as good condition as you left it in when Spring rolls around.
If there are niggling issues beginning to affect your boat, you might want to deal with them before winter when you might not be using it as much. If you leave it, rust can spread, lubrication might congeal and you will just have to carry out maintenance when the weather is warmer and you want to be out on the water.
CLEAN YOUR BOAT
Before the weather gets cold, give it a thorough clean. This will let your boat handle the hibernation in comfort. Wash everything, apply a coat of wax, make sure there is no blistering in the fibreglass and repair any problems you find. Take any canvas sections off and keep these inside if you won’t be using the boat much. Store these any other soft furnishings in a cool, dry place indoors and out of the elements. This will stop mould getting a foothold.
CHANGE THE ENGINE OIL
If you might be leaving the boat stagnant for a while, change the oil. Acid present in the oil can corrode the engine. Changing the oil ensures it is as clean as possible and has no foreign elements in it that could corrode the metal in the boat’s engine.
LOOSEN THE DRIVE BELTS
If your boat goes into storage or is subject to a snap of cold weather, tight drive belts could crack and are expensive to replace.
DRAIN THE WATER FROM ALL PARTS OF YOUR BOAT MOTOR
Tilt the motor to remove any liquid hiding in there that could freeze and cause damage. Pull the drain plug before putting her in storage. Ice wreaks havoc on your boat so taking the time to make sure every last drop is out before the air gets chilly is well worth it if you live in the colder areas of the country.
KEEP YOUR FUEL TANK ALMOST FULL
In storage, any space in the top of the fuel cap can gather condensation and get into the fuel. A gap of just one inch from the top of the fuel tank is optimal. On warm days, it has room to expand but there is not much room for condensation. You could also apply vaseline around the fuel cap to prevent moisture from entering. A fuel stabilizer will also stop any varnish building up in the fuel system.
CHARGE THEN DISCONNECT THE BATTERY
You don’t want to arrive at your boat in spring when the weather is getting warmer only to find you need to replace your battery. Disconnect the battery to preserve it and give it the longest lifespan possible.
LUBRICATE MOVING PARTS
Before you leave the boat sitting for a while, go around and lightly lubricate any moving parts. Any hinges or latches, steering mechanisms, even the trailer wheels. Anything that could become stiff should get some marine lubricant to keep it in good working order.
There may be more measures you need to take, depending on the make and model of your boat. These steps are a good place to start and for more information and details specific to your boat, consult the owner’s manual.
Do you have any tips to add for storing your boat and preparing it for winter? Let us know in the comments section below.