Laying Up For Winter

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A guide to laying up you boat for those cold winter months


If you're about to bring your boat ashore for storage over the winter then read on for some useful advice.
From dealing with engines and batteries, to cleaning the bilges and taking out the upholstery, there are plenty of jobs to do on your boat before it comes out of the water for the winter months.
 
The first step in winterising your boat is to make a checklist of tasks to complete. Check the owner's manual for your boat and engine and read the manufacturer's recommendations on winterisation. Below, are listed some of the main tasks to carry out, some of which are definitely best left to the professionals.
 
Inboard engine - Run the engine to warm it up and change the oil while it is warm. This tends to allow impurities to be drained away with the oil. You should also change the oil filter. 
 
Flush the engine with fresh water. Circulate antifreeze through the manifold by using a pick-up hose from the water pump to a bucket of antifreeze. Start the engine (best left to the professionals once ashore) and allow the antifreeze to circulate until water starts to exit the exhaust. This process will vary slightly depending on whether you have a "raw water" cooling system or an "enclosed fresh water" cooling system. 
 
While you're in the engine room you should also change the fluid in your transmission. Wipe down the engine with a rag sprayed with a little fogging oil or ‘WD-40’.
 
Stern drive - The stern drive should be thoroughly inspected and any plant life or barnacles removed from the lower unit. Drain the gear case and check for excessive moisture in the oil. This could indicate leaking seals which should be repaired. 
 
Clean the lower unit with soap and water. If your stern drive has a rubber boot, check it for cracks or pinholes. Grease all fittings and check fluid levels in the hydraulic steering or lift pumps. Check your owner's manual for additional recommendations by the manufacturer.
 
Outboard engine - Flush engine with fresh water using flush muffs or a similar device attached to the raw water pick-up. Let all water drain from the engine. Wash engine down with soap and water and rinse thoroughly.
 
Use fogging oil in the cylinders to lubricate the cylinder walls and pistons. Apply water resistant grease to propeller shaft and threads. Change the gear oil in the lower unit. Lightly lubricate the exterior of the engine.
 
Fuel - Fill your fuel tank to avoid a build-up of condensation over the winter months. Change the fuel filter and water separator
 
Batteries - Disconnect the battery cables; remove the battery from the boat. Clean the terminal ends and battery, rinse thoroughly with clean water. Apply a light coat of grease on the terminal end of the battery and cables. Store the battery in a cool dry place.
 
Bilges - Make sure the bilges are clean and dry. Use soap, hot water and a stiff brush to clean up any oil spills. Once the bilges are clean, spray with a moisture displacing lubricant.
 
Fresh water system - Completely drain the fresh water tank and hot water heater, open tanks and clean with a sterilizer such as ‘Milton’ if possible.
 
Heads - Pump plenty of fresh water through the system and thoroughly clean the system. You can use strong descaling agents but check with your owner’s manual so as to not harm your system. Let it sit for a few minutes, add fresh water and pump out again.
 
Interiors - Remove any valuables, electronics, lines, life jackets, fire extinguishers, flares, fenders, etc. Over the winter these items can be cleaned, checked and replaced as necessary. Open all drawers and lockers and clean thoroughly. Turn cushions up on edge so that air is able to circulate around them or, better yet, bring them ashore to a climate controlled area. Open and clean the refrigerator and freezer. To keep your boat dry and mildew-free you might want to install a dehumidifier.
 
Out of water storage - Pressure wash hull, clean barnacles off props and shafts, rudders, struts and trim tabs. Clean all through-hulls and strainers. Open seacocks to allow any water to drain.
 

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