Before the marina hauls and winterizes your boat, there are many jobs that you, the boat owner, can perform. Most marinas will look after the motors and water systems, but they won’t do some of these more detailed jobs.
Make a List
On all boats, either during your last cruise or your last days in the harbor prior to haul out, make a written list of any other repairs that either you are going to do or you are going to leave for the marina to do like gauges that are non-operative, taps that leak, upholstery nicks that need to be sewn, snaps that are pulled off the canvas, woodwork that needs to be refinished, motor tune ups, etc.
Eliminate Nesting Material
There are many items on board the boat that should be removed for the winter so they don’t freeze, rot or attract animals. You should box up and take home all the food and drink containers, all the bedding, towels, clothing, as well as any of the kids toys that they may want over the wintertime. Also remember to take home anything that is made of paper because mice and birds love making nests out of tissues, toilet paper and paper towels.
Protect your cushions and mattresses
If your cockpit upholstery has been damp during the last few weeks, lift it up off the seat foundations, stand it on end, drain it, expose to the sun and the wind. If your upholstery is going to stay aboard after haul out, go back to the boat after the marina has winterized it and stand the cushions and mattresses on their side and lean them separately against the cockpit sides. This will provide good ventilation around them. There are always lots of warm days during the fall that will draw the moisture out of them if there is good air circulation.
Hang to Store
Depending on your storage space at home versus your varmint problem on the boat, you may also want to remove your convertible top/bimini top and all the canvas. One winter, I had rolled up the tops super tight around the bows after washing and drying thoroughly. Come spring, when I unrolled it, a family of four-legged critters had crawled in the rolled up end with some paper and made a cozy nest. Nest creation involved chewing several holes in the rolled up canvas. Every year since, I have hang the canvas flat like sheets on a clothes line so that there are no pockets to nest in.
Clean before storing
Fall is a good time to wash just about everything on the boat–inside and out so that you don’t have frozen on dirt to deal with in the spring. This job includes washing the canvas, the upholstery, the superstructure, coolers, the frig, ice maker, lockers, live wells, bait wells, etc. This will avoid black fur in the corners greeting you in the spring.
For sailboats, there are a few additional jobs that should be tackled before haul out. They include removing and washing the sails, hanging them to dry and packing them up to take home. Depending on whether the marina is going to do it or you are going to do it, you want to un-step the mast, inspect all the running and standing rigging and make notes of items to be repaired or replaced.