The Winter months can be a rocky time for dedicated sailors. A chance to rediscover the warmth of the indoors, see some familiar landlubbers and enjoy the Christmas holidays, sure, but that's just the beginning of a long wait until Spring. Worse, during that wait your boat requires a fair bit of looking after should you want to take her out next season. To help you protect your vessel from the never-ending threats of corrosion, freezing and more, here's our own guide to Winter boat maintenance.
First and foremost is finalizing the day of your final voyage. Your last trip before hauling her out however is not an excuse to gaze upon your local coastline one more time. It's actually a perfect opportunity to get a real feel for every part, electronic or piece that you might want to repair, modify or completely replace. Once back on sure, begin your preparation by removing and safely storing all extraneous items from the boat, including your marine radio & GPS, batteries, gas bottles, fire extinguishers, lifejackets & safety equipment, the contents of your fridge/lockers/cupboards and any worn & damaged rigs.
Once you've got a bare bones boat devoid of any clutter, it's time to move onto everyone's favourite part...
Your boat's inner workings will be a huge job in of themselves. For the engine, ensure it's topped up just short of full (to allow for expansion after Winter), adding a fuel filter and marine fuel stabilizer per instructions to keep the entire system clean whilst it's not being used. Turn the engine on to check that the stabilizer circulates well through the system, and then whilst it's warm you can begin a good seasonal round of lubrication that should begin with your engine oil, and extend to the fittings, engine coupler, steering tilt tube, engine trim mechanism and any of the various moving metal parts in sight.
Moisture is a deadly force over Winter; creeping into freeze if left unchecked. Checking the bilges, removing stagnant water and cleaning up every speck of dirt and drop of oil should be a no brainer, but remember to also drain your fresh water tanks and heater. Add a non-toxic antifreeze directly to the tank, as well as your ice makers, air conditioning pumps, fish wells and bilge as applicable.