In-the-water Winter Lay-up

Often, boat owners who visit their boats in early spring find their boats nearly under water.. They might or might not get a call from the marina to get down there right away to take care of their boat. Don’t let this happen to you. Don’t make these mistakes which might cost you big bucks or your boat. Each year, as boaters everywhere prepare for winter lay-up, a thorough and well thought-out winterizing plan is often the difference between a boat that incurs damage in the off-season and one that’s sound and ready to launch in the spring. But with so many chores to keep track of, even the most organized boater is bound to forget a critical winterizing task or two.

Plan on visiting your boat regularly, at least once or twice a month.

A lot can happen in winter, from animals moving aboard to sudden leaks caused by expanding ice. If you can’t visit your boat frequently, consider using a buddy system with other boat owners. Another alternative is to ask your marina manager to keep an eye on the boat. Many marinas will inspect boats, although usually for a fee.

Did you add extra lines and chafe protection?

Blustery winter winds should never be confused with gentle summer breezes. All it takes is one good winter storm to abrade a dock line — and maybe bash a hole in the hull. If the boat is left in the water, double up on docklines and add chafe protection.

Don’t use your Biminis or dodger as a boat cover for winter. Biminis and dodgers are for sun and spray not for winterization. Winter is very hard on Biminis and dodgers causing premature replacement and possibly letting water or snow into your boat or cockpit.

Storing a boat in the water without a cover might result in it being underwater. Cockpits have drains that might clog up with debris causing the cockpit to fill with water, sinking the boat. Heavy snow could push a boat with low freeboard underwater.

Not closing sea cocks stored in the water. Too many things can happen to that seacock or the attached hose causing the boat to take on water.

Storing you boat on shore can freeze an engine block with an unexpected cold spell. Storing in the water may keep the engine block a little warmer.

Petcocks in the engine block may be clogged when you tried to drain the engine for winter. You might not realize that no water came out of the clogged petcocks. Be sure to visually check if water drains from each petcock. If you do have a clogged petcock a coat hanger works great clearing it.

Having the marina attendant look after your boat might be a good idea. No matter whom you pay to watch your boat it is always best to check on your boat periodically during the off-season. Nobody cares more for your boat than you.

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Filed under Boat Maintenance, Boat Operation, Boating Safety, The Boating Environment

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