Prepare Your Boat for Winter with Ancasta's Winterisation Guide
Prevent Damage with these Boat Winterisation Steps
Taking protective measures before you store your boat for the winter will help ensure it’s ready to get back on the water when you are. It’s not just winter that can impact your boat’s performance; inactivity itself can lead to wear and tear. Without proper checks, corrosion can spread, moisture can get in places it shouldn’t, and oil can clump and cause issues in the new season.
The best place for your boat to be during the winter is out of the water, under suitable cover and in a warm, climate-controlled storage specifically for boats and yachts. We all know that costs can be a defining factor, so if you don’t have this option, our user guide could help you do some of the work yourself.
Many of the checklist items below are also general maintenance. However, there are some that are critical to preventing damage during the winter months, whether berthed or in dry storage.
1. Give your boat a really good clean
It sounds obvious, but a clean boat will endure the winter months much better than a dirty one! This also reduces the time required to get the boat back on the water.
- Outside and topsides: Start by giving the decks, underside and topsides a good clean with warm water. For those stubborn areas a steam cleaner can save a lot of energy. A little wax wouldn’t hurt at this stage either and can help prolong the life of the boat. Wipe down all hardware with a suitable product, such as Simple Green, and shammy off excess water.
- Check for blistering or flaking on fiberglass hulls and panels and repair them as required. Any canvas, spray hoods and windscreens should also be cleaned to remove residue salts.
- Ensure that the boat is as dry as possible before putting it into storage; damp is not your friend! If the boat is to be stored outside, ensure that a suitable cover is used. This needs to fully protect the boat’s interior and decks from mildew, snow and ice.
- Mould is not your friend, defend against it! Where possible, take soft furnishings home and keep them somewhere cool and dry. This will prevent damage as well as keep them fresh and clean. Where furnishings are too large to take home, hang them up so the air can circulate throughout the boat. If there is little circulation in the storage area, a low power de-humidifier can help.
- Ensure that any perishables and removables are removed: Fridges and freezers should be cleaned, food removed, as well as any other removable items such as flares, fire extinguishers, fenders and electronics.
2. Service the Heads
The heads on your boat should always be cleaned regularly. However, for winterisation there are a couple of additional things you can do. While pumping out at your local approved facility, add fresh water and flush through several times to help clean the system. Once clean, you may be able to add antifreeze to the system – check the boat’s manual to ensure that the antifreeze won’t damage the system before applying. If it is safe to use, pump through the hoses, holding tanks, valves and macerators.
3. Service the engine
A professional service is highly recommended when winterising your boat. If this is not possible, there are some must do actions that you can do to help increase the lifespan and efficient running of the engine come Spring.
- Change the boat’s oil: Water and acids in the oil can degrade and corrode the metals in the engine over time. Fresh oil greatly reduces the chances of foreign liquids being present. Ensure that you run the engine for some time before changing the oil, this helps the viscosity of the oil and leads to a much cleaner, and quicker, oil change.
- Drain and refresh the boats engine cooling system: Draining the coolant alone it’s quite enough, ensure that you run clean water through the system and top up with high quality antifreeze diluted to the manufacturer’s recommendation.
- Keep your drive belts driving you forward: Drive belts should be loosened as they are under high tension and can crack during storage.
- Moving parts, no problem: For this stage, consult your engine’s manufacturing guide as each boat can vary. Spray fogging oil either through the spark plug holes or into the carburettor whilst the engine is turning over. This helps ensure that as much of the engines internal moving parts are oiled.
- Help your boat steer you: Steering mechanisms are, as you will be aware, very important parts of the engine and equal care should be given to them during the winterising process. Ensure they are greased deep into the joints and that everything continues to move freely. Any obstructions could lead to stored tension and cracking / sheering.
4. Winterise the fuel
Fuel can be left in the tank. However, a little preparation should be taken if it is sitting there for months on end. Fill the tank to within 1 inch full, allowing for expansion on warm days, and add a suitable fuel stabilising agent. Fuel can break down, so it’s important to run the engine to draw the stabilising agent through the engine with the fuel for 10 to 15 minutes ensuring good coverage. To further alleviate condensation, add some Vaseline around the fuel cap to prevent unwanted moisture getting in and out.
It’s also worth considering replacing pre-fuel filters as any issues at this stage can be resolved during the winter months ensuring that your boat is in first class condition come spring or summer.
5. Disconnect your battery
The cost of replacing a boat’s battery can be expensive. Save yourself some cash and disconnect the battery at the end of the winterising process. Further to this, giving them a charge from the mains (land power) and topping up with distilled water could help the lifespan. Please consult the battery manufacturer before making any changes outside of disconnecting the battery.
6. Check your boat regularly
Although the above checkpoints are great to do before your boat goes into winter storage, there is no greater thing than to check your boat regularly. Visiting your boat during the winter months can help identify any potential problems early and ensure plain sailing when you launch your boat in the spring / summer months.
Also pay close attention to the manufacturer’s manual. Each make and model is different and the best care will often be available to view. If in doubt, call the manufacturer. Alternatively, the Ancasta after-sales maintenance team or a specialist can alleviate any concerns and deliver the best results.
Find Out More
For support, more information or for professional winterisation, lifting and storage facilities, contact Ancasta Yacht Services.