It is with a heavy heart that boaters start to turn their attention towards the winter and begin contacting contractors, marinas and boatyards to discuss their requirements. Here are our tips to getting your boat through the cold weather this winter:
General winter tips
- Fill you fuel tanks to the brim. This will ensure condensation and water doesn’t get into your fuel system whilst the fuel sits stagnant over the winter. It will also prevent the onset of diesel bugs.
- Undertake standard checks on your engine including removing weeds, charging your battery and other suggestions in your owner’s manual.
- Dry your bilges completely and paint them; this will highlight any leaks or drips coming from the engine.
- Change your engine oil and oil filter, especially if you're leaving your boat for several months. Although this will come with a small cost, it will prolong the life and performance of your engine in the long term.
Tips for staying afloat during the winter
Just because it is the winter, doesn’t mean you need to desert your boat and stop sailing! Favourable weekend conditions last year meant that many boaters continued sailing well into November whilst some hardened sailors compete in Winter Series Racers. Plymouth Yacht Haven offer discounted seasonal berthing rates during the winter meaning you save money on berthing by staying afloat.
- Ensure your battery is fully charged
- Check your bilge pumps are working
- You may wish to use anti-freeze in your heating systems or to flush the anti-freeze through your engines and/or the piping around your heads.
- Alternatively, you may wish to drain your fresh water tanks altogether
- Ensure your sails are well-tied down. You may even wish to remove your sails completely and store them below deck or ashore.
- Make sure your boat is properly secured to the pontoon and your mooring lines are in good condition!
Tips for coming ashore during the winter
The majority of boaters bring boats ashore for important winter maintenance jobs and general storage. The Plymouth Yacht Haven boatyard can provide cradles and chocking to ensure your boat is securely positioned throughout the winter in our undercover hangers or in the yard.
- Book your hoist and yard space early as boatyards are understandably extremely busy during the winter
- Remove your headsail prior to coming ashore
- Contrary to popular belief, leave your mainstays and shrouds tight. Slackening them will make the mast unstable and potentially dangerous in strong winter winds
- Open your seacocks once ashore to allow water to drain freely
- When accessing your boat whilst it is ashore, take great care ensuring your ladder is safe, securely fixed and ice-free. Use a spotter for support whilst climbing onboard.
Find out more about our boatyard facilities
If you're looking to bring your boat ashore at Plymouth Yacht Haven this winter, book your Winter Lay-Up today.
Tips for sailing during the winter
Whilst there is certainly a peacefulness and tranquillity with sailing in the empty winter waters, the dangers are higher than the summer so additional precautions must be taken.
- The winter means you will only get around 7 hours of daylight compared to around 14 hours in the summer. Even if you don’t plan to sail in the dark, ensure your navigation lights are all working and the battery is fully charged.
- Sailing clothing is vital and should not be under-estimated. Thermals, full wet-weather gear, hats and gloves should all be considered and stock.
- Check the forecast regularly. Winter weather is far more changeable and volatile than the summer.
- WEAR YOUR LIFEJACKET AT ALL TIMES
- Perform a radio check with the marina on channel 80 or with the Harbour Master on channel 14. Contact HM Coastguard informing them of your sailing plans and destinations. Once arrived, contact HM Coastguard again to inform them of your successful passage.
- Ask the Haven Team if there are any Notice to Mariners in the area