When laying up your sailboat for the winter months we suggest that you, weather permitting, remove ALL sails once you have stopped sailing. You would be surprised at the number of furling head sails we get in for washing just after the start of the sailing season all with a ‘lovely’ green stripe down the inside of the sacrificial strip!
Please also be aware that a lot of insurance companies will NOT cover you for the loss or damage to a furling genoa if it comes adrift and flogs itself to death whilst either on the water or on dry land! If you for whatever reason leave your reefing headsail on, make sure that you have at least four ‘wraps’ of the sheets round the sail and as well as using the cleat to secure you also add a knot to prevent the sail unraveling!
Once you take the headsail off the foil we strongly recommend you run a foil saver up the furling system track and tension the extrusion using a 6mm pre-stretched line tied back to the mast. By using a saver it will save the foil joints from shaking themselves stupid on a windy day as can be seen below!
If the joints are worn and there is movement it can lead to the bolt rope being damaged and with the fretting between the two sections resulting in staining of the sail as per the second image.
For both powerboats and yachts with canvas work, be it canopy, spray hood, bimini, dodgers etc, winter gales and therefore chafe are enemy No1. They can shorten the lifespan of a canopy etc by at least 50%. Enemy No2 is bird droppings (seagulls and of course starlings eating berries at this time of the year leave purple poop stains) so remove these fabric items asap after you have stopped using your craft.
The exception to the rule? Only if the canvas work’s sole purpose is protecting bright work, instrumentation or seats and you cannot protect by the use of a tough tarpaulin. However, if using one, do make sure you create a ‘ridge pole’ effect so that rain runs off and secure it well! If you have a tailor made winter cover, brilliant, if not maybe consider one, especially if you have teak decks. They're not cheap but worth their weight in gold. If your budget allows, send your sails and canvas work to us and we can wash (this removes airborne contaminants and the salt crystals that damage the stitching and fabric) dry them and, if applicable, reproof, check over and store till the start of the new season.
If you would rather D.I.Y, our Yachticon Sail and Canvas Cleaner is excellent, as is Iosso. It's a brilliant all round cleaner that can be used to remove mould, mildew, tough to shift dirt, in fact most stains. It is, of course, safe to use on fabrics, vinyl, plastic, fibreglass and wood. For canopies manufactured from Weathermax, Holmenkol Textile Wash is the one, can also be used for washing Goretex, Coolmax and Thinsulate garments. Granger’s Fabsil Gold is the industry standard when it comes to re-proofing if you have just cleaned your acrylic spray hood or canopy. A word of warning, DO NOT, under any circumstance use a high pressure washer to remove bird droppings or green mould/algae. This method of 'cleaning' can knock the stuffing out of the fabric and blow stitching apart in five seconds flat. The ‘softly softly’ approach of soaking and the careful use of a sponge/soft brush is the only way.
If you're storing sails in your garage or in the loft, make sure that you lay down a couple of traps to discourage rodents for ‘removing’ fabric to make a nice warm nest during the winter!
SPARS, HALYARDS & MOORING LINES
If you have lifted out we strongly recommend that the mast is removed. We have all seen or read about the domino effect in boatyards however, before it's unstepped, we suggest that you mark the threads of the rigging screws with PVC tape so that come the spring it is easy to replicate the same rig tension.
Once the mast is off and before it's stored on a mast rack or trestles, remove all the rigging (after labeling) to avoid an electrolitic reaction between the stainless wire and the alloy spar. Wash the mast down with fresh water and apply a coat of alloy polish. If the mast is fitted with an Aquasignal Quickfit Tricolour remove and cover the base with the purpose made cap.
If the mast does not have a mast foot make sure you cover the end as birds and other creatures are liable to build their nests inside! If you are NOT removing the mast and boom for whatever reason, purchase some thin strong line, attach to the tail of the rope halyard and carefully pull them through.
After you have stripped the mast, remove jackstays and at the same time don’t forget your danbuoy, man overboard horseshoe, etc. To keep the ropes in good condition when not in use, hand wash them (warm water only) to remove salt and dirt deposits. If your boat winters afloat check the condition of your mooring lines, especially where they go through a fairlead or are made off on a cleat. If you haven’t already done so consider purchasing some mooring compensators, when fitted they take the snatch away preserving lines, fairleads and cleats and should you be spending the night aboard they help to ensure that you get a good nights sleep. Last but not least, any lines taken off the boat should be coiled when dry, avoiding kinks and do not store in direct sunlight.
Make sure you disconnect the gas cylinder at the end of the season. After that I would suggest you check the date printed on the flexible rubber hose, it may well be past it's sell by date! For cleaning galley surfaces my favourite cleaning products is Vistal (almost the same as Universal Stone which we used to sell however Vistal is 'home grown' made in the UK) its great for hobs and work surfaces including Corian, it’s ‘other uses’ are too many to mention but do include cleaning fenders, inflatable tenders, paint work and gelcoat!
Check for perishable foodstuffs and remove, likewise any out of date tinned ‘emergency’ supplies often stored in the bilges! Take all the alcoholic drinks home and drink whilst planning next year’s on the water activities. Make sure fridge and freezer lids are left propped open after thoroughly cleaning, likewise, lockers and cupboards.
Heads I win, tails you lose. Cleaning and winterising the heads is a job that I just love (to avoid). If you have holding tanks fitted, discharge them and add to the tank some Odourlos (which helps to break down the waste) and fresh water, then flush through and empty again. To ensure that you keep the uric scale build up to a minimum I always tell my guests to pump at least 20 times to clear the lines, however at the end of the season I am a great believer in using LeeScale fast marine de-scaler, which I suggest you leave in the system overnight for maximum effect then flush system thoroughly. For cleaning the toilet bowl I use and recommend Starbrite’s toilet bowl cleaner, it’s specially formulated not to damage seals or valves.
Whilst in the heads, if the shower drain pump is there, remove the filter from the unit and give it a good clean, even though you may not use for showering, but only use the wash basin and it has a dual function you will be pleasantly surprised or disgusted what’s clinging to the filter!
Don’t forget to drain down your fresh water systems and run non-toxic Starbrite Antifreeze through the system to protect water pressure pumps, pipe work, taps and calorifier. With the cold snaps a few years ago we have had quite a few boat owners coming in late Feb/early March reporting damaged water pressure pumps, water filters, impellers, taps and shower heads. Even though most systems had been drained down, sufficient water had been trapped to expand the appliance and cause, in some cases, an expensive repair.
Down below, remove as many of your soft furnishings as you can, however be careful where you store them. Like sails, soft furnishings make great nests for rodents.
For cleaning vinyl upholstery and head lining we would suggest either Starbrite’s Vinyl cleaner and Shampoo or their Vinyl Cleaner and Polish. For woven fabric, Yachticon Sail and canvas cleaner or Iosso are both excellent products that we have used with success.
Remove as much as possible of the contents of your lockers (assuming you have the space) and store in a dry area. If any of these items have been subjected to salt water exposure rinse in fresh water and store when dry away from direct sunlight.
Make sure you wash down all hard surfaces in the saloon and cabins with something like a mild solution of Iosso, remember a little goes a long way. Starbrite Bilge Cleaner or Marine16 Zero when added to bilge water will remove grease, scum, floating oil and keep the bilges smelling sweetly. Don’t forget to wash and dry the underneath of the floorboards if possible leave up so air can circulate. Stubborn stains on most surfaces including those that are painted or varnished can be cleaned with Vistal. As it’s 100% natural, it’s safe for use when there are children present, allergy sufferers or pets.
FOULIES, LIFEJACKETS & CLOTHING
Remove all foulies, lifejackets and clothing and take them home. For foul weather gear we recommend that you treat them with Granger’s Fabsil this residue-formula maintains water repellent finish on fabric and is effective of course with Gore-Tex and other waterproof breathable fabrics. Fabsil Aerosol contains silicones and other waterproofing agents and bonds well to cleaned fabrics such as acrylic, nylon, polyester and cotton!
Lifejackets; If auto, remove the activation unit and gas bottle then wash the jacket by hand in warm water and dry naturally. Check your jackets for chafe and before reassembling/repacking check the expiry date on the activation unit and if bottle is rusty or has rust spots, discard. For further advice on the care of your lifejackets, if you go onto either the Crewsaver or Baltic sites you can get some first class tips. We do carry rearm kits in stock for the majority of popular life jackets and for the few that we don’t, they can be obtained within a few days.
FIGHTING OFF THE DAMP
A 240V dehumidifier is worth considering. If you do decide to take the plunge go for one which has the facility to drain directly into the sink outlet. The Meaco DD8L Junior (best on test according to Sailing.com) operates using the ‘desiccant principle’ and will work at a lower temperature than those using a refrigerated coil. If the cost of the above dehumidifier is beyond your budget the Seago unit is £30-00 cheaper! If you'er prepared to wait (delivery early January) the Store Dry Air Circulator is an excellent piece of kit combating mould and mildew, its dual action uses a low wattage heating element and an internal fan to heat and circulate air. The effect of heat and circulation prevents stale air pockets which in turn prevents mould and mildew from forming!
Tube heaters are available in a variety of sizes they have built in thermostats, and prices start as low as £31-95. Very popular as a sump heater they can also be found in saloon or cabin. These low power consumption heaters come complete with a set of brackets that enables one to easily attach to a wood or plastic base board if required.
If you don't have a 240V power supply the Starbrite No Damp Dehumidifier is great for removing moisture and of course refill packs are also available. Simple and safe the moisture is collected in the base of the unit and can be removed at one's convenience.
CUT THE GREEN OUT!
Wet & Forget is superb at keeping away the green algae which tends to form on boats in the winter (especially the side that does not see so much sun). You dilute it 5:1 with water then simply spray it on decks be they teak, grp or painted. If you decide to leave halyards, covers or canopies on (sailing throughout the winter?) Wet & Forget will keep the algae at bay with NO HARD LABOUR NEEDED!
If you are ever worried about your electricity consumption whilst using either a dehumidifier or a heater be it tube or Stor-Dry Air Circulator you can check your consumption with a Metermaid, just add the ‘maid’ to your shore supply cable and you can keep a close eye on your outgoings!