BC Top Tip Oct

4th November 2023

Winter is coming...

Apply the seven rule of 'P' to be raring to go come spring

Preparing your boat for winter is as important as preparing her for getting afloat at the start of the summer season. If you do nothing else before you head out of the marina gates for a few months, winterising your engine should be top of your list. Portland boatcare Engineer Tom Aldred explains, "winter damp and all the salt flying around can play havoc with your engine, plus, it doesn't like sitting still! Getting a fine coat of oil on the insides and blocking up the intake to stop the moisture getting in will go along way to prolonging the life of your motor".

  • Spray some prohibitor oil into the air intake (diesel) or carburettor (petrol) and turn the engine over a few times. It will be a little reluctant to start come spring, but will soon clear and that's definitely better than an engine full of rust!
  • Block up the air intake with an oil rag or put a bag over it to keep the moisture out. Don't forget to put some tape over the ignition to remind you before you next fire the engine up.
  • Fill your tanks up to the top to stop condensation forming.
  • Run anti-freeze through the cooling system.

The RYA have handily prepared this engine winterisation how-to guide on their website.

If you have time, Tom also recommends draining your water tanks and disconnecting the hoses at the pump and leaving your taps open so if the 'beast from the east' returns, there's no chance of anything freezing and bursting. Decommisioning your gas system by turning it off at the bottle and disconnecting the hoses is also good practice.

Protecting the interior

It's not just your engine that will suffer from being left alone in the damp for a few months, anything even remotely absorbent such as books, clothing and soft furnishings will benefit from being taken home and stored somewhere warm and dry if you have the space. It's also a good oppotunity to wash cushion covers* and curtains and do a running repairs to them. Whilst you're at it, you can also clean and re-proof your wet weather gear in one hit with some nifty products.

Empty your fridge and leave the door open so you don't come back to a mouldy mess in April and consider using a dehumidifier with a hose into the galley sink or the non-electric type with dissolvable moisture attracting tablets to keep the black spores at bay. Ensuring good ventillation whilst keeping the rain out is the key balance here.

Lastly, avoid leaving your lifejackets onboard if you can, especially automatic versions with salt tablets as condensation can set these off in the locker. Drop them off for servicing or manually inflate them (with a pump to avoid the damp in your breath getting into the bladder) and leave them for 24 hours and the deflate and store somewhere warm and dry.

*A top tip to reduce the wrestling match when getting cushion covers back on at the start of the season is to spray the foam with silicone spray. It helps the foam slip into the corners of the cover much easier!

Our boatcare team are on hand to help with your winter maintenance and repair needs and are happy to advise if you have any questions. 

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