Boat wintering, what you need to do if you pull it aground

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boat winterization
Winterizing the boat in the shallows-be well-informed about cranes and travel-lifts to avoid damage

As the season ends, it’s time forwinterization if you don’t use your boat in the colder months. There are many tasks that need to be done to put our boat to rest and better protect the interior, batteries, services, engine, and hull from cold, corrosion, and moisture. We have collected advice from several boat owners and boatyards, who suggest what to do to “winterize” our boat and not have any nasty surprises, whether the boat stays in the water or gets winged. We tell you about them in two installments. Today we talk about winterization in the dry.

Wintering – If you pull up the boat

Those who choose to take the boat out to dry during the winter months will be able to perform a lot of maintenance work on the hull and preserve the hull from osmosis and corrosion for longer, but even with the boat on the reservoir, some specific precautions need to be taken to make sure the boat is in good shape at the start of the next season.

Preparing for the crane or travel-lift

To facilitate the crane operator’s or travel-lift operator’s work, the deck should be as clean as possible and there should be no superstructure that can get stuck during the lifting phase. The sails and sheets should be removed, the boom rigged, and the lazy-bag (or easy-bag) halyards left and tied securely to the mast. The tender should be deflated and the raft brought below deck. Once the boat is put on the slip, it will only be possible to access it via a ladder, so it will be difficult to remove any heavy objects or bags afterwards–let’s think ahead!

Open sea intakes and soft shrouds

Unlike the case of the boat left in the water, when you wing a boat, the intakes to the sea are left open, to drain the water from the pipes and allow inspection. Not having to sail for months can ease the tension in the rigging.

Invasion with multiple support points and rizzing

If the boat sits on a slip all winter, it is a good idea to add more support points than the classic universal slips that have 4 or 6, perhaps adding 2 stands at the side and one at the stern, to distribute the static load of the boat over more points of the hull. The boat and vessel should then be well rigged and braced to the ground.

Inspection of the living work with the boat on

After hydro-cleaning and drying, it is customary to inspect and photograph the hull in all places that have defects, typically at the contact points of the cast iron bulb or fin, rust may occur. During inspection, the solidity of the rudder louvers is checked; there should be no play. The wheels should be left with a slow clutch to allow the blades to be moved by hand while painting. It is best to ask a shipyard to measure the residual moisture in the fiberglass and then compare it before launching. Rely on an experienced eye to check for cracks in the gelcoat, bubbles, osmosis etc.

Wintering – The work with the boat in the shallows.

Boats built with composite materials benefit from staying out of the water. Two weeks in the dry is the annual drying time recommended by many manufacturers. It is the practice to remove the old antifouling immediately and let the sanded hull dry, and then renew the antifouling only a few days before launching. With the boat on the reservoir, the opportunity is taken to perform replacement of zincs, cleaning of the foot and cooling water inlet duct, sail drive oil change, repainting of the propeller, and maintenance of usually submerged mechanical parts such as the thruster.

To sleep soundly… bottle of wine!

However foresighted and careful in performing all the procedures to prepare for the winter break, few boat owners sleep soundly for weeks without knowing anything about their boat left at the berth. There are many technological solutions of remote control and alarm sensors, webcams and security. Nearly all boat owners still opt for the more traditional, seafaring solution: The “bottle of wine,” to be given to a neighbor or moorer, in exchange for keeping an eye on their boat during the cold season.

In the next installment we will reveal what to do, check and know if you opt to winterize your boat at the marina berth.

Luigi Gallerani

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