After a long summer and many unforgettable hours on the most beautiful waters in the world, the season is slowly coming to an end. The right time to prepare your yacht for winter. Winterising your boat is particularly important to avoid frost damage and costly repairs in the spring.
So that you can start the next boating season without any worries, we will tell you in this article how to properly winterise your boat.
What options do you have for winterising a boat?
If you want to winterise your boat properly, you have several options. You can winterise your boat in outdoor storage, opt for a boat hall or get it ready for the winter at its mooring in the water. The choice is ultimately up to you. The important thing is to weigh up the individual advantages and disadvantages and only opt for one of the options if all the requirements are met. If you are unsure, please do not hesitate to contact the Merk & Merk team. Perhaps the following explanations will already answer your questions.
Winterising the boat: the outdoor storage
If you want to winterise your boat under the open sky, a high-quality winter tarpaulin is the be-all and end-all. Robust, hard-wearing and tear-resistant PVC tarpaulins with ventilation access protect your boat from all weather influences and prevent moisture damage at the same time. An optimal fit is indispensable for a full boat cover. Many manufacturers offer custom-made products. This investment is worthwhile, as you can be sure that everything is reliably covered. In any case, outdoor storage is the more price-efficient solution compared to winterising the boat in a hall. Ein weiterer Vorteil ist der erleichterte Zugang. If you want to carry out maintenance work in between, you do not have to observe the opening hours of the hall. However, remember to regularly check the fit of the winter tarpaulin and tighten the straps.
Winterising the boat: the water quarter
The decisive factor for winterising a boat in the water is the body of water itself. Only locations that have a moderate winter and a permanent current are suitable for this option. This ensures that ice does not form. If a body of water freezes, frost damage to the boat is unavoidable. Therefore, only winterise your boat in water at moorings that meet these requirements. A regular check is essential here.
Winterising a small boat: the boat hall
When winterising small boats, most boat owners prefer the boat hall. No wonder, the yacht or sailing boat is protected from all kinds of weather and is theft-proof. The only drawback to this method of winterising a boat is finding a suitable place to store it. These spaces are in great demand everywhere. Therefore, you are welcome to contact the professionals at Merk&Merk. As part of our comprehensive yacht management, we will take care of the search for a boat storage space and handle all the formalities for you.
The steps to winterising a boat properly
Regardless of which of the three winter storage options you ultimately choose, you need to take a few precautions to winterise your boat properly. Among other things, this includes winterising the boat’s engine. In the following, we will show you what to look out for and what steps you need to take.
Avoid frost damage to the boat
The greatest danger for boats in winter is frost damage. This can occur wherever there are liquids. If the water freezes in pipes and tanks, it expands rapidly and causes them to burst due to the high pressure. For this reason, one of the most important things to do when winterising your boat properly is to drain the water from all tanks and containers. These include:
- Water storage tanks
- Outdoor showers
- On-board toilets
- air-conditioning systems
Then fill them up with antifreeze designed for drinking water systems.
Cleaning the boat
Before you send your boat into hibernation, give it a refresh and free it from the traces of the season on the exterior and interior. Be especially careful when cleaning the hull. The propellers and the anchor should also be cleaned. In addition, repair minor damage directly or renew the paint. Spreading dehumidifiers in the boat has also proven effective. Cleaning and maintaining the boat before winter storage is always a good idea, but it does involve some work. If you wish, we at Merk & Merk can take care of all the cleaning, repair, maintenance and painting work so that you have time for the important things in life.
Making the boat’s electronics fit for winter
When it comes to on-board electrics, the main focus is on checking all fuses, switches, contacts and cables. In this way, you will discover corrosion and possible damage that can lead to short circuits in good time. Also check all exterior and interior lighting. Grease contacts to prevent corrosion. If you are dealing with sensitive equipment, take it off the boat.
The boat battery should be fully charged and removed if possible. If this is not possible, charge it regularly during winter storage. Discharge plus cold considerably reduces the life of the battery and can render the batteries unusable in a short time.
Bootsantrieb und Bootsmotor einwintern
As already mentioned in the step “Cleaning”, you should thoroughly clean the propeller before winterising the boat, remove algae and barnacles and check the nuts and cotter pins for tightness and damage. The generator components (filter, oil, impeller, etc.) must also be checked and cleaned. Also make sure to winterise your Seakeeper (boat gyro stabiliser), which you can purchase exclusively from us.
If it is a rigid shaft drive system, check the shaft seal and re-grease it. In the case of a saildrive, check the sleeve seal and renew the coating if necessary. With a Z-Drive, also check the shaft and repaint if necessary.
To winterise the boat engine, change the fuel and oil filters, check the oil level and the V-belts and replace the oil. When winterising a diesel tank, you can either fill the tank completely or empty it completely. In this way you can prevent diesel pest. This always occurs when microorganisms such as bacteria and fungi form in the diesel fuel and bio-sludge forms as a result. Diesel forms wax crystals at low temperatures, which must be avoided in order to protect filters & co. For this purpose, there are special winter diesel treatments that you can simply add to the fuel and which act like an antifreeze – indispensable when winterising a boat.
Inspection and maintenance of all safety-relevant elements
Finally, to winterise the boat properly, check all seacocks for tightness and grease them to prevent corrosion. Also check all hoses for cracks.
As far as safety equipment is concerned, you should take life jackets, life rafts and fire extinguishers on board. In the course of this, you can have maintenance carried out directly when it is due or at least clean the equipment. Also think about the gas system. They should also be inspected by a specialist when winterising the boat.
Checklist for winterising a boat
Finally, we provide you with the following checklist for winterising your boat properly. If you want to save yourself the effort or have little time for a comprehensive winterisation, use our professional yacht service. We will not only find you a winter storage space and clean your yacht, but can also take care of the entire winterisation process for you. Our professional yacht experts will be happy to advise you.
Water system and air conditioning
- Drain water tanks
- Drain air conditioning water
- Drain boiler
- Drain outdoor shower
- Drain on-board toilet
- Fill antifreeze
- Clean hull (with high pressure cleaner, depending on material)
- Clean anchor, anchor chain and anchor locker
- Clean and grease anchor winch
- Clean propeller
- Repair minor damage
Winterise the boat engine and generator
- Change engine oil and oil filter
- Clean or replace air filter
- Fill up or empty the tank
- Fill with antifreeze
- Check impeller and replace if necessary
- Replace V-belt if cracked
Other winter preparations
- Charge the boat battery regularly
- Check and grease contacts and co.
- Remove gas bottle
- Remove important items from the interior
- Fit the tarpaulin
- Take down the sails, wash them, repair them if necessary and store them in a dry place.
Now you have a first overview of how to winterise the boat and what you should pay attention to. If you have any further questions or would like advice on our yacht management, please contact us right away.