Laying up time

The speed at which autumn arrives never fails to surprise. It’s not been one of the best summers on record and there have been some problems during the season. Now’s the time to look to putting the boat to bed for the winter, So here are a few hints and tips, apologies if you know these already but it does bear repeating (these are courtesy of Marinestore) …

Humidity and the subsequent damp can cause a lot of damage to fabrics on board, black mould is especially nasty and hard to remove. There are several ways that matters can be improved.
1. Remove the primary causes – ideally use a dehumidifier and a small heater, this will go a long way to helping matters
2. Remove any fabrics that you can and store at home
3. Open all interior lockers so that there is air flow this will reduce condensation
4. Make sure that air can circulate thoughout the boat, leave a hatch open just enough to allow the air through
5. Make sure that the bilges are kept as dry as possible
6. Drain your water systems (this will prevent frost damage and don’t forget to drain the water heater too)
7. Wipe all surfaces with a good quality kitchen surface cleaner – non abrasive of course
8. Take home all the clothing and lifejackets, if the’ve been used, they’ll be salty and water loved salt!

Mooring lines – If you’re staying afloat for the winter, and I thinks it’s well worth it there are some great day’s sailing to be had… Double up your mooring lines and if you’re on a pontoon berth double the springs too. Carefully check all lines for wear and tear, they can get badly damaged over the winter. One small tip is to place the line in clear plastic tubing where it passes through the fairlead. This saves wear on the line and helps prevent damage to the topsides.

Batteries – Often forgotten – top up the distilled water (not gel batteries), disconnect from the electrical systems and use a good quality trickle charger to keep them full.

Engines – It’s always worth changing oils and filters if you’re up to it. Old engine oil contains a percentage of water and this can condense and cause rust spots in inconvenient places. Some recommemd a good squirt of WD40 down the bores.

Sails – take these off and get them home or to a sailmaker for cleaning. An additional benefit of using a salemaker is that the sails get stored for free over the winter!

Gas – take off the bottles and make sure all taps are closed and tape a plastic bag over the regulator.

Seacocks – These get forgotten – clean and grease – and  while you are at it, the winches too!

Fenders – If still afloat, give them a good clean to get the seasons muck off them. If you have fender socks, wash them – they are great grit traps. Dishwashers bring fenders up a treat!

Running rigging (ropes and lines). Take these off and get them home. These can be soaked in the bath  but if you want really clean bits of rope, put them in a bag such as a pillow case or duvet cover and put them on a 40 degree wash on the washing machine. You may need to seek permission first or be sneaky and get it done when the owner of said machine is absent.

Boat Cleaning. Make sure that you give the boat a good wash and clean and if you’re up to it, a polish too. This will make your life a little easier next year and the boat will benefit too. Don’t forget to get behind the cooker and give the coolbox/fridge an extra special bleachy fresh going over – leave the doors open too.

The Heads. Often forgotten but these need your love too. Clean the whole shebang with hot soapy water with a splash of disinfectant and don’t forget to the surrounding splash damage area. Normally we’d use a splash of olive oil (not necessarily virgin) to keep the mechanism lubricated but this is not really sufficient for the periods involved.  You could do worse that use this stuff it works well and may just save you having to buy a service kit in the spring. Don’t clean the boat loo with the same products you’d use at home, they’re not nice to boaty bits.