It’s that time of year when temperatures start to plummet and our happy summer cruising days are a fond but somewhat distant memory.
Winter is coming and it’s time to start thinking about getting ready for it, especially if you are not planning to use your boat over the long winter months.
But even if you’re using your boat throughout the winter, it’s worth giving your boat a thorough annual check-up.
It’s a good idea to create a checklist before you start winterising to ensure that nothing is missed. Different boats of varying sizes and types, come with different systems to check. If your boat has a service manual, reading through it beforehand will help you to carry out user tasks such as replacing fluids and service parts properly.
Make sure you have all the new parts that may need replacing (such as impellers, oil filters, and air filters) and don’t forget all the fluids that need replacing such as oil, anti-freeze and corrosion inhibitor.
The last thing you want when you return to your boat after the winter season will be malodourous and mouldy furnishings – move any soft furnishings to a warm and dry environment. If this is not possible then stand bunk cushions on end so that air can circulate around them. Open lockers and take foul weather kit home to clean and dry. Don’t leave food on board! Now is a good time to get your lifejackets and liferaft if you have one serviced, if due. It is also a good time to check all your seacocks to make sure they work and have not seized up.
The best protection for your boat’s engine this winter is to change the oil and service the engine according to the manufacturer's instructions before storage. This way all the filters are clean, water has been removed and corrosive elements that build up inside the engine are washed away.
If your boat is out of the water now is a good time to inspect and replace anodes if necessary. Freezing temperatures can cause damage in pipes, which if left, could eventually cause partial flooding. Make sure you drain down the water system and leave taps in the open position. Do not forget to drain the loo bowl too, if you have one.
Fixed ventilation is there for a reason and must never be blocked. Ventilating your craft in winter will help to reduce condensation. If you’re away from your boat during the winter, it’s worth checking it from time to time, just to make sure all is as it should be. Regularly checking everything is ok with your boat will minimise the chances of any serious damage occurring over the winter, should something go wrong.
Top tip – when winterising your boat for the first time, it’s helpful to make a note of what tools you’ve used during the process, so you can then quickly get them together for the next time! There is nothing more annoying that forgetting the one vital tool you need for a particular task.
And for those braving the winter weather on board in the coming months, boaters are urged to be ‘carbon monoxide wise.’ When cooking, always consider opening the cabin door to maximise ventilation and do not use a cooker to heat the cabin.
Always follow the CO safety advice with the aim that, even before someone steps aboard, they know how to recognise the risks of CO poisoning and how to protect themselves from the ‘silent killer’.
Stay warm and safe this winter!