Prepare and prevent. Don’t repair and repent!

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As winter nears we are less inclined to visit our favourite boating spots and our boats are left forgotten and abandoned until summer makes its sunny return. However, whether you leave your boat in the water or in the backyard, winter weather can wreak havoc on your boat if you don’t make the needed preparations. Corrosion, cracked blocks, blown fuses, and ruined electronics are just some of the consequences that lie in store if you don’t.

The following tips will prove useful in preserving the health of your boat during the imminent winter months, and although it may seem like a mission now, it will most certainly save time, money and effort come spring.

It’s best to make a list of everything that needs to be done before winter sets in. It’s important that you check your owner’s manual for specific instructions on your boat’s winterisation.

Firstly, the right boat cover is essential for outside storage. While it is important to make sure your cover is of good material and fits your boat snugly, it is equally important that it is well vented for good airflow to curtail the amount of trapped moisture. This will go a long way in reducing the risk of mould and mildew.

After removing your boat from the water, do a thorough check of the hull. Check for blisters and stress cracks – the latter could indicate structural damage and you should consult a professional. The best way to go about repairing blisters is to puncture, drain, dry and patch the area with epoxy-based filler. Should you own an aluminium boat, check the hull and use a rubber mallet to knock out any dents.

Then, check that your hull is clean and free of any barnacles, oysters, mussels and other uninvited crustaceans. Scrape them off with a barnacle scraper made for the purpose and not with a spade or other improvised equipment that could damage your hull, and then sand off any residue. It is also wise to take a pressure hose to your hull to remove any remaining dirt and sea scum. You will minimise the hassle of cleaning your hull in future by applying an approved paste wax. It creates an acrylic shield over the hull to prevent dirt from penetrating the wax and can then be hosed off easily.

If you normally keep your boat in the water throughout the year it is advisable to consider a boat lift. Leaving your boat in the water for several months subjects it to all kinds of sea growth and other harmful elements contributing to the decline in performance and shortening of the lifespan of your craft. Also, leaving your boat immersed for an extended amount of time will cause water to eventually seep underneath the gel coating. This usually leads to boat blisters and eventual delamination of your hull. A reliable boat lift can make the world’s difference.

Firstly, let’s check out the engine and how to prevent unnecessary and avoidable damage over the colder months.

Outboard Engine
It’s important to fill your tank and add a petrol additive in order to stabilise the fuel and to eliminate carbon build-up in the fuel delivery system and on exhaust components. Then run the engine up to operating temperature while flushing it with cool, fresh water through a flushing device or flush muffs.

With the fuel hose disconnected, spray fogging oil into the carburettor until the engine stops – this will leave a protective coating on the internal surfaces of the engine. Also, remove spark plugs and spray the fogging oil down the cylinders before replacing the plugs finger tight.

Next, spray the whole power head with a water repellent such as WD-40 before cleaning and re-greasing the control linkages and grease points with a lubricant. Then change the gear oil in the lower unit and lightly lubricate the exterior of the engine or polish it with a good wax.


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