Wintering Leisure Boats

Owning a leisure boat is largely about the pride of ownership. You own a floating space in which you can set off on exciting adventures or simply escape and relax. If you live close to the sea, you can head off a whim at any time of day for a voyage, feeling proud that you are the owner of this beautiful vessel.

When it comes to this time of year, the draw of the sea may be less appealing and extreme conditions can make it impractical. The majority of leisure boat owners will be bringing their boats ashore for the winter. Most harbours will have specific craning days when the majority of boats will be brought ashore. If your vessel is under warranty, it is also worth checking whether this is on condition that your boat is ashore by a set date, or you risk invalidating your cover.

Removing a vessel from its summer moorings allows you to see the vessel in its full glory. Winter is therefore the perfect time to ensure that she still looks impressive and runs well when she returns to the water. Instead of spending time in the boat, you can spend time on the boat, getting it ship shape. From varnishing or painting woodwork to repairing damaged parts, the effort will pay dividend during the summer months.

Storage Options

In locations around the UK, boats can be stored in secure facilities close to the water between October and March. Typically there is a license fee to pay and the spaces are offered on a first come first served basis.

A more expensive option is to find inside storage facilities which are offered by boat specialists or self-storage facilities. Although a higher cost, they offer a greater level of protection from the elements, damage or theft than outdoor storage.

The cheapest option is to store your boat in your own garage or on your driveway, possibly in a car port. As a large bulky item, storing a boat at home may not be the most convenient option, but if space isn’t an issue, it can save money which can be spent on repairs and upgrades.

No matter where you plan to store your boat through winter, it is important that you don’t let your insurance lapse. You need to feel confident that you are covered against any damage, theft, fire or vandalism that may occur. If you are transporting your vessel, it is worth checking that your insurance cover also covers road transit.
If you are keeping your boat on a trailer for winter storage it is advisable to provide support pads for the hull and raise the trailer onto blocks. This will prevent the wheels and axle suspension from taking the weight of the load. Also ensure that a strong wheel clamp is fixed to the trailer for security.

Winter Maintenance

Once your boat is in storage, remove all valuable items, along with the sails and canopies. If you are undertaking de-humidification, heating or battery charging, ensure it is supervised, as these are common causes of electrical fires. Ensure that your boat is protected from extreme conditions. For example water systems, fresh water tanks and calorifier can be prone to freezing, which can cause damage.

Fully drain the engine and take the opportunity to coat it with a corrosion guard, which can also be applied to the exhaust manifold and risers. Ensure the battery and fuel system are safe for winter storage. Leaving a battery unattended through the winter can result in it discharging, especially in colder conditions. When it is fully discharged, it is unlikely to be rechargeable and a new, expensive purchase could be the only solution.
Marine Repairs

At this point undertake a thorough inspection of all your vessels parts. Any parts that are found to be damaged or faulty should be professionally repaired or replaced with quality replacement parts. If you are using spares, be sure to replace these before heading back on the water.