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Ireland’s 5 most common boat winterising mistakes

Equipment
Warps and ropes should be left somewhere dry, whilst fenders can be cleaned and stored safely. If a dinghy is carried on davits, one winter left hanging can equate to four seasons of normal wear, so take it home. The anchor, chain and warp should be hosed and checked for weaknesses, especially the shackles. If the VHF aerial can be dropped, do so, and tie it up to stop it whipping all winter. Finally, take all non-secured equipment with you.

When all this is done, relax in the knowledge that you’ll have a healthy boat to re-stock in the spring, and start planning your 2011 cruises.

Failure to Winterise the Engine - As we all now know, temperatures drop below freezing in Ireland during the winter. Inland waters are used to dealing with freezing issues, but residents of coastal areas are less likely to properly prepare their engines for freezing temperatures.

Failure to Drain Water from Sea Strainer - While taking steps to properly winterise your boat engine, take time to address your seawater strainer as well. Water lingering in the strainer can freeze and damage seals. Damage won’t be obvious until the spring when water starts to flood the bilges.

Failure to Close Seacocks - Boats being stored in-water should have their seacocks closed. Heavy rain falls can force thru-hull fittings below the water surface. Follow good management practices for maintenance of thru-hull fittings, ensure connecting hoses are in good condition, hoses are double-banded to barb hose fittings, and seacock valves are well exercised. If there are no seacock valves connected to the thru-hull fittings, the boat shouldn’t be stored in the water for the winter. The only exception to this rule are cockpit drains.

Leaving Open Boats in the Water Over Winter - Vessels with large areas exposed to the weather or that have low freeboard should be stored upland. Heavy rain fall or snow can force open scuppers, thru-hull fittings, or even the gunwhales below the water.

Using Bimini Covers as Winter Storage Covers - Bimini tops are meant to provide cover from the sun and aren’t designed to protect a boat from winter water. These fair-weather covers will fail prematurely and offer little protection for your boat. Consider the use of a “shrink wrap” covering system or tarps to keep rain and snow out of your vessel. Ensure there is good ventilation under the covers to reduce corrosion or fungal damage to the boat

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