PracticalBoater
Seaworthy | From The BoatUS Insurance Files

 

Boat Winter Checklist

By Beth Leonard
Published: February/March 2013

Fight the winter blues by paying your boat a visit and making sure all is well. Whether it's stored on the hard or in the water, you may just forestall some spring problems.

Photo of a row of covered boats stored onshore Covers that do not allow air circulation around the hull can cause paint blisters.

Make sure the boat is well-ventilated. Air circulation prevents mold and mildew from forming down below and keeps the boat smelling fresh. Covers should have ventilation ports to allow air to circulate; leaving a hatch or portlight in the head compartment cracked open a tiny bit will bring that air inside the boat. If your topsides are painted, air also needs to be able to circulate between the cover or shrinkwrap and the boat to avoid blistering. If you don't have a cover, take the opportunity to open several hatches and ports while you're visiting to circulate fresh air below.

If you encounter mold or mildew, ignoring it can result in serious damage to the interior. Wipe down mildewed surfaces with any one of several commercial products or a 50/50 solution of white vinegar and water. (If the problem recurs frequently, add a solar ventilator when the weather breaks.)

Open lockers to circulate air and leave them open. Tilt cushions up or, better yet, take them home. Cushions tend to retain moisture, which makes them smell funky and creates mildew problems.

Photo of green corrosion/discoloration of hatch
Green corrosion or discoloration of hatch surrounds means you have a leak.

Check portlights and hatches for leaks and look for water stains. Green corrosion, dirt streaks, black caulk, or water trails around a portlight or hatch are all early warning signs to be taken seriously. If you're lucky, the hatch or portlight wasn't dogged down properly, but it's more likely you'll be replacing the gasket or recaulking the opening come spring. In the meantime, duct tape will help to keep water out (use paint thinner to remove tape residue in the spring). Canvas or a heavy plastic tarp can also be rigged to cover the opening and keep the boat drier.

Inspect your bilge. No good ever comes from water in the bilge, and any water means a leak. Hopefully you've already found the source of the water during your walk-through, but if not, try to figure it out and put a stop to it before leaving your boat again. If your boat's on the hard and you're in a cold climate, you may well be looking at ice in the bilge. Use rock salt and nontoxic antifreeze to break it up, dry the bilge completely, and, to keep it from refreezing, add a few cups of nontoxic antifreeze.

Photo of frozen boat with a cracked hull
Check your hoses, scuppers, and stuffing box to be sure your boat doesn't end up like this.

Check the operation of the bilge pump and float switch. If you've left a battery onboard, make sure the bilge pump works with the battery master switch in the OFF position.

Open and close each seacock a couple of times to keep them from seizing. If your boat is in the water, make sure that all seacocks are closed (with the exception of cockpit drains); many a cracked or slipped hose has sunk a boat. If your boat is on the hard, now's a good time to take sticky seacocks apart for servicing.


| 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | Next

 

 Recommended Articles
Gray rule

Thumbnail phot of a boat on jack standsWhat To Look For In Winter Storage

Here are some things to look for when choosing a winter storage site for your boat


Thumbnail photo of a man winterizing his boat emgineWinterproof Your Boat

Whether you live in Alaska or Alabama, these nine winterizing steps will get you back on the water faster come spring


Thumbnail photo of checking the propBoat Spring Checklist

Working your way through this checklist will help make sure your boat's ready to go when you are

 


BoatUS Magazine Is A Benefit Of BoatUS Membership

Membership Also Provides:

  • Subscription to the print version of BoatUS Magazine
  • 4% back on purchases from West Marine stores or online at WestMarine.com
  • Discounts on fuel, transient slips, repairs and more at over 1,000 businesses
  • Deals on cruises, charters, car rentals, hotel stays and much more ...
  • All For Only $24 A Year!


Join Today!