There is still time to Winter “EYES” your boat.
Winterizing your boat means having your local marina prepare the motors(s) and water system(s) to withstand our harsh winter weather as well as store it under shrink wrap or in a building.
No one wants to have to deal with broken water lines or cracked blocks in the spring, so it pays to prepare your boat for winter carefully.
But, in addition to the marina winterizing, there is so much more you can do to WinterEYES your boat:
Use your eyes to find potential problem areas and eliminate them, so that you are better prepared for winter storage.
Look for anything that will tempt and attract animals. Take all food items off the boat. Empty all the drawers and cupboards of towels, clothing, bedding, life jackets/PFD’s, charts and anything else that will hold moisture and/or feed and provide housing for critters. Take these items home or store them in sealed containers aboard. Set mouse traps for added insurance.
Look for nest-building materials. Empty the galley and head of all paper towels, tissue, toilet paper etc., because mice love this nest-building material.
Look for moisture in your upholstery. If your cockpit upholstery has been damp during the last few weeks, lift the cushions off the seat foundations, stand on end, drain, expose to the sun and wind.
Look for Spiders. Get rid of all spiders and clean up all their dirt. The presents they leave behind will only harden like cement over the winter months creating a REAL cleaning problem next spring.
Look for dirt. Do a thorough clean of the empty cupboards, frig/ice box, head, floors—everything. Wash the canvas, the upholstery, the superstructure, coolers, ice maker, BBQ, lockers, live wells, bait wells, etc.
Look for Mold and Mildew. If you don’t want to wash the canvas, you can brush away mold. Lay the canvas flat on a picnic table and, wearing a mask, brush with a dry scrub brush. Most of it will come off and, if ventilated properly, shouldn’t grow any more.
Look for Pockets. You may also want to remove your convertible top/bimini top and all the canvas. One winter, we rolled up the tops super tight around the bows after washing and drying thoroughly. Come spring, when we unrolled them, a family of four-legged critters had crawled in the rolled up end and made a cozy nest. That involved chewing several holes in the rolled up canvas. Now, we hang the canvas like sheets on a clothes line in storage, so there are no pockets to entice the mice.
Look for ways to ventilate. Leave the cupboard doors ajar or open, leave drawers partially open, leave hatches open, stand up any cushions that are being left behind, so they can breathe. Make sure the boat can breathe to avoid dampness and mold/mildew problems. Depending on where you store your boat, you may want to consider a fan on a timer.
Look at your fire extinguisher gauges. If any need recharging or replacing, now is a good time to take them off the boat and send them away. It usually takes a while.
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 all the repairs that you plan to to do, and also a list 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.
You will thank yourself in the spring for taking this extra time “winterEYESing” your boat before putting it to bed for the winter. You won’t have mold, dirt and critter damage to deal with, when you are ready to go boating next season.