Should we winterise our boats?

When winter has well and truly set in and the joys of the summer boating season are becoming a distant memory, perhaps it’s not time to forget the boat entirely however, as there could be some valuable steps you can take that will make life much easier when the warmer months return.

“Winterizing” is a crucial practice in northern hemisphere areas where freezing winter temperatures can inflict major damage to many of your boats systems. Whilst our temperate climate eliminates many of these concerns, there are still some valuable steps we can learn from our northern counterparts;

Top up the tanks

It’s hard to say what the price of fuel will be in October, but there are other good reasons to fill the tanks now. Keeping fuel tanks full over winter prevents condensation, which prevents corrosion in the tank and more importantly eliminates fuel degradation. This is particularly important in Diesel tanks where moisture becomes the catalyst for Diesel bug which can be costly to resolve. Petrol tanks are equally prone to water build up but more importantly a half full tank will“breathe” as temperatures fluctuate, allowing the fuel to become stale. Full tanks stay fresh!

Cover for UV protection

UV light is mounting a constant attack on your surfaces and equipment. Anything you can protect for the off season will appreciate the favour and this might mean custom made covers for exterior fittings or simply a sheet thrown over the seats or helm station. It is also a good idea to remove electronics such as the chartplotter/sounder and give them a warm dry spot inside for the winter.  You might even take the opportunity to update the chart software.

Maintain ventilation

Maintaining ventilation inside is the key to minimising mildew and dampness. Prop cabin doors open and find ways to circulate air without allowing water ingress. A dehumidifier is a great solution when 240v power is available and most models can drain directly to an adjacent sink or basin. On the topic of eliminating moisture, now is definitely the right time to check the condition and function of your bilge pumps.

Maintain Trailer

If your boat lives on a trailer, taking it in for a warrant of fitness during the winter will see you congratulating yourself when Christmas rolls around and you have one less thing on your list. A quick winter road-trip will also help drive moisture out of the trailer brakes and lessen the likelihood of them causing trouble down the track.

Service during off-season

Winter provides perhaps the best opportunity to get your servicing done when the service shops, slipways and supporting trades are generally under less pressure. Tackling those longer term maintenance items like zinc anodes, propulsion system work, or the often forgotten anchor windlass can have you off the water for longer than expected especially if it turns out that new parts or repairs are required. Unfortunately we can’t always rely on a quick turn around these days but you
certainly don’t want to be caught up in the pre-xmas rush wishing you had acted earlier.

Call South Pacific Marine Services for more information about how we can service you boat during the winter months.