Is Your Boat Ready For Winter?
New Zealand is seeing the first of the winter weather now and it's probably time to think about ensuring your boat is ready for all that could be thrown at it over the coming few months.
Good preparation now could make the difference between some fine sailing in the summer, or having to spend time and money fixing things that have failed or broken whilst you've not been looking.
Schedule a few regular checks on your boat during the winter period. If you're not able to do this yourself then a local boat manager or marine electrician can help you out. BoatSecure works with top professionals to service boats, and we can make recommendations if you need.
Winter can be hard on your batteries. Ideally you have a shore power connection that will keep them on a float charge. Alternatively a small solar panel or wind generator can be sufficient to keep the voltage up. But make sure that the power connections don't trip off whilst you're away - that's where BoatSecure can help you out by monitoring and alerting you to loss of power and low battery voltage.
Also make sure your batteries are kept dry and clean. Contaminants on the terminals and wiring can cause corrosion and discharge the batteries. Discharged batteries may not be recoverable resulting in costly replacement, and frustration if your dealer doesn't have stock.
One of the main hazards on board is the fuel in the tanks. If you are planning regular checks on the boat, then turning over the engine occasionally will keep it running smoothly. Adding a fuel stabiliser is a useful safeguard to prevent fuel turning to gel and gumming up your engine. Though you may consider draining the fuel tank completely to remove fire risks and avoid fuel contamination from condensation etc. Make sure ventilation is provided to remove any remaining fuel gas as well. Have a fire extinguisher handy when handling fuel.
You may want to do maintenance work during the winter season also. Changing engine and transmission oil is a useful task to get done when you have time. Check the oil now for water contamination as in a few months it can look confusing if a small amount of condensation has collected. Also check that all the moving parts are working well and that bolts, mounting points, cable and ties are all secure. Flush the engine with fresh water, to remove sea water that is standing in the cooling system, and consider adding anti-freeze - not only does this prevent ice but also inhibits corrosion.
Although theft of boats in New Zealand from marinas and moorings is uncommon, theft from boats happens more often than you may realise. Either way it can be a nasty surprise to know you've had unwelcome visitors. Remove anything of value - fishing gear, electronics and entertainment that isn't bolted down, drink and food stocks, clothing and linen, etc. A BoatSecure system can be setup to detect door opening or movement in the cabin, and your electrician can wire the system up to switch on boat lights to alert marina security staff as well.
Check your bilge over a couple of visits to clear out standing water and to make sure that there aren't any leaks. Check that drain cocks or valves are tight and will be secure over winter. Rain can collect on your boat and find it's way to the bilge. Checks after storms will make sure that covers are secure and the bilge is clear. This is another area BoatSecure provides peace of mind by monitoring bilge operation and alerting you when the pump runs.
Open up interior cabin doors and cabinets to allow air to circulate. Condensation is inevitable as cold days arrive and air movement will help to prevent mould and bad smells from setting in.
Turn off all electrical items that aren't critical. There's always a risk of a short circuit or pump burning out if appliances are left operating unattended for long periods. The problem with electricity is that small issues can become expensive over a short time. It's better to test gear out when you're onboard rather than discover expensive repairs.
Finally check your mooring lines and even better set double lines with different anchor points onboard and ashore so that any single failure won't be a catastrophe.
If you have any tips of your own please add in the comments below. You're welcome to give us a shout if you want to discuss how BoatSecure can safeguard your boat over winter as well.