If you’re a boatie, hopefully you’ve spent many days out on the water this past summer. While we know you’re probably not ready to think about the cooler months at this stage, it’s probably worth considering your winter to-do list soon, if only for the sake of your boat.
Without proper care and preparation for storage, you could damage your boat’s engine, leave it susceptible to mould, corrosion and the attention of unwanted passengers in the form of pests. Then, when you’re ready to get back in the water, you might find yourself high and dry until you get it all sorted, wasting valuable time and money.
We want you out there enjoying your boat, so we asked some seafaring experts for their top tips for boat storage, so it’ll be ship-shape when you’re ready to get out on the water again.
- Keep a clean machine
This might seem basic, but it’s at the top of the list for a reason. Before you tuck your boat in for the winter – or any period of time at any time of year – give it a thorough clean down. Removing dirt, grime and salt from the surfaces of your boat will help prolong the finish of its surfaces and help reduce any etching from salt deposits that can potentially cause rust. Apply a coat of wax to add an extra layer of protection to keep surface moulds at bay while it’s being stored. Polish any stainless steel, chrome and glass with a chamois or soft cloth to remove water spots from forming, as once they set in, they’re hard to remove.
- Cabin housekeeping
Ensure your cabin storage lockers are cleaned out and remove anything perishable, including soft furnishings, blankets or cushions. Switch off any electricals and empty your fridge (because nobody wants to find a forgotten carton of milk three months or more down the track). If you have a bathroom on board, give it a thorough cleaning and ensure the water supply is turned off. If it’s safe to do so, leave an internal door or hatch open to allow for some movement of air within the cabin.
- Secure your gear
Secure any equipment in lockers on deck and ensure you’ve secured ropes, lifejackets, fenders and so on in a dry place. Now’s also the time to check for and replace any frayed or worn ropes. Make sure your sail is dry and rolled up securely or remove it and arrange for any repairs to be done while your vessel is off the water.
- Maintain motorised parts
Flush salt, sand and debris out of wheel hubs, brakes and the cooling system to minimise corrosion. Change the oil. Add a stabiliser to your fuel to ensure you can use it when you’re ready to hit the water again or drain the fuel entirely before you put your boat into storage. Disconnect the battery to avoid corrosion at the contact points or, alternatively, store it somewhere dry where you can recharge it.
- Bug off, pests!
Small creatures can find their way into your boat, so keep exhaust ports closed (or tape them), along with any hatches to the outside world that might invite critters like mice or roaches. Ensure you’ve removed any food from your boat – even snacks in airtight packaging, as they can be a temptation for hungry creatures looking for food sources.
- Go undercover
Regardless of where your boat is being stored, a cover is a worthwhile investment which will not only protect your boat while it’s in storage but will mean there’s less for you to do when you’re ready to get back out on the water again.
- Store with security
If you’re storing your boat on a trailer, check your tyres and brakes before you load up and keep an eye on your registration, so you don’t get fined or towed. Ensure you have a trailer hitch lock to deter thieves and keep your trailer somewhere safe where you can keep an eye on it.
If your boat is going to be off the water for any length of time, consider a marina or boat storage facility as an option to keep your baby safe and sound. This will depend on your location and budget, but keep in mind that where you secure your boat might also affect your insurance premium.
- Protect your investment
Speaking of insurance, don’t store your boat without first checking your insurance policy is up to date and your boat is covered. Even if you’re not using it, a boat is a big investment, so you want to make sure it’s protected.
NRMA Insurance offers boat insurance for vessels of all shapes and sizes, to protect you in case of accident, collision, theft, vandalism, salvage and much more. They also offer the option of layup cover, which can potentially reduce your premium while your boat is off the water. Go online to find out more or get a quote at www.nrma.com.au or call 132 132.