Before our ships retreat into hibernation in warm halls or under large tarpaulins, they must be well prepared for the break from sailing. SeaHelp has compiled the most important points to consider before winterizing in winter storage.
Clear out supplies
Not only perishable food should be cleared off the boat at the end of the season, but also all spices, rice, pasta and canned food. This not only protects against unwanted pests on board that feed unnoticed on rice, macaroni and gummy bears during the winter months in winter storage, but also makes room for all upcoming maintenance and repair work. Clear exception: drinks. Must remain on board in any case, if the owner and crew want to puzzle around on the ship in peace on the weekend.
Empty fuel tank
Because of the fire hazard, many hall lessors require that vessels’ fuel tanks be emptied to a minimum during winter storage. But there is another reason not to end the season with a well-filled tank, if possible: dieselpest. A slime buildup in fuel that occurs when it stays in the tank for long periods of time and has increased, especially in the Mediterranean in recent years. The result is a coughing, faltering engine that, in the worst case, fails to perform without warning. Often, the only thing that helps then is professional tank cleaning.
So it is better to refuel freshly for the new season and always add a bio-oxazolidine-based additive as a precaution.
If you do not winter your boat in a hall, but on land or in the water, you do not necessarily have to empty the tank. Alternatively, the tank can be filled to the brim to prevent condensation during winter storage.
SeaHelp Tip: Empty or drain the tank as well as possible before the winter break and have it cleaned in the spring before refueling. Or, if the tank is full during the winter months in winter storage, in any case always add a biocide additive (eg Grotamar82).
Empty the water tank
Fresh water that sits in tanks for months not only starts to germinate, but expands when it freezes. The consequence: broken pipes. So rather: water out.
In addition, the water should also be drained from the boiler and the fuse should be removed.
SeaHelp Tip: At the start of the season, when the ship and boiler are to be used again, be sure to remember to turn on the device only after filling and venting, otherwise the heating rod will burn out!
And while we’re on the subject of emptying…the holding tank should also be professionally emptied and cleaned before storing in winter storage!
Raise mattresses and upholstery
Ideally, all upholstery is stored freshly washed, dry and heated in the attic or basement. However, due to space limitations, they usually remain on board. To avoid moisture and spak stains, boat upholstery should be placed on end, collected in a cubicle, to leave a little air space for necessary circulation.
Do not hermetically seal interior space in winter storage
Where air cannot circulate, moisture quickly accumulates. The consequence: mold. So always ensure a slight draft in the ship and hang dehumidifiers if necessary. If mildew stains or mold does form, a mold ex spray can help. It prevents unpleasant, musty odors and protects against new infestations after use. In addition, it can also be used to disinfect toilets and plumbing.
Life jackets, island & Co – off to the service
Before the life jackets are mothballed, they should be cleaned with clear fresh water. And then a look at the inspection sticker reveals when the lifesavers need to be serviced again. And the fire extinguishers, too, perhaps?
Freshly rinsed rope
The salt and grime of the season need to come down – and that goes for cordage, too. After drying, lines and sheets are shot up in large bays and hung in a dry place. Stuffing everything into a large bag risks not only a big woof, but also the formation of mold due to residual moisture.
If the ship comes out of the water and hangs in the crane, one usually sees only how angegraut or even yellowish the hull has become over the season. With a high-pressure cleaner, which must not be set too hard, the coarsest dirt, algae and shells can be removed well.
In order not to damage the antifouling, the nozzle must not be held too close to the hull! If you want to wash your hull again afterwards, you have to do it at a special washing place, where the water running off is collected separately. Special GRP cleaners are available for this purpose, which thoroughly clean gelcoat and paint surfaces. In addition to general soiling, they also remove wax, oil and grease. Hot water should never be used for cleaning, as the boat materials, especially GRP and antifouling, are not made to withstand extreme heat.
The unsightly gilb on the bow, similar to a yellow wave, is caused by harmless microorganisms contained in the water. A special anti-yellowing can be used to easily remove this discoloration.
Yachts that are left in the water over winter must be carefully prepared for the weeks or months without sail. All seacocks must be closed and fenders must be fastened to the very bottom of the railing so that the constant movement of the ship does not damage the railing.
Mooring lines must not be stretched too tightly or they will chafe badly and may break. To prevent rodents from getting on board through the lines, special washers can be put on the mooring lines to prevent the animals from running over them.
The shore connection of the power supply is also taken off over the sail-free period, but the batteries should be charged every three to four weeks to avoid a complete discharge. Marinas often offer to provide this service for their customers.
SeaHelp Tip: A mini-photovoltaic system installed on deck ensures that a trickle charge is always guaranteed.
To avoid dirt and damage to the deck, it is recommended to invest in a large winter tarpaulin that covers large parts of the ship.
Fill small damages yourself
With a little practice, small quirks on the hull or on the GRP superstructure can be repaired by yourself. Gelcoat repair kits with detailed instructions are available for minor gelcoat damage above and below the waterline. The small cans contain gelcoat, hardener, sandpaper, tape, putty and self-release film, so you don’t have to buy any other accessories.
Why wait until next spring, when temperatures are ideal now, to renew the underwater hull paint?
If you want to save yourself the hassle of sanding off the old layers of paint, use an antifouling stripper. With this antifouling remover, the antifouling layers are so strongly dissolved within a very short time that they can be effortlessly removed with a spatula. Once the hull has been cleaned and dried, the new antifouling can be applied.
SeaHelp Tip: Each antifouling has a different composition, so be sure to follow the manufacturer’s processing instructions. There are antifoulings that must be in the water within twelve hours after application. These are more suitable for yacht owners who take care of the underwater hull directly before the start of the new season.
Care for the tender
Before deflating the hoses of the small rubber boat that has usually served faithfully throughout the summer months on deck or in tow of the yacht, the boat should be rinsed with fresh water and then cleaned with a mild soap run or a special inflatable boat cleaner. Oil and tar stains in particular must be carefully washed off and the valves flushed! Afterwards, the hoses should be thoroughly inspected for minor damage.
If everything is dry and intact, the boat can be stowed away until the next season. Small dinghies often have a sturdy bag into which they are packed – after the air has been let out. Larger ribs best endure the winter months with tubes half inflated on a trailer, slip cart or suitable rack in winter storage.
SeaHelp Tip: Book the engine service in good time and have it done! Main engine, dinghy outboard and power generator should get a service inspection in the fall. So porous seals or O-rings are quickly detected and replaced, so that no salt water can penetrate into the gearbox. The oil should also be changed in the fall. For the spring, the only things left on the to-do list are to check or replace the V-belt, impeller and fuel filter.