I got a text from Andy this Sunday morning, 'Too early to start laying up email? I have just had the first of another chandlers e-mails on the subject'. Well what with Hindsight on the Iris pontoon in Nidri and me looking out over the stern of our Mystery, yes there are a lot of boats now on the shore awaiting the colder weather but on a beautiful sunny day out in the Ionian it certainly doesn't put me in the mood to blog about all things cold and damp. I had, in Jenny's absence, (she flies out today courtesy of Easy Jet at considerably more cost than her Thomas Cook flight had been) almost got ahead of myself and completed the next blog so that I could give her my undivided attention when she arrives. Jen arrives late tonight so there are a load of things to do on the boat before she turns up, empty and get rid of the rubbish, clean the cooker, wipe down all the surfaces, air the bedding to name but a few of the tasks I need to do before I collect her. Oops, nearly forgot I need to fit in the Wales v Australia rugby match too. Dan one of my sons-in-law is an Aussie, however the folks on the boat next to me are all Welsh, which team do I support this morning?
Not quite panic stations but it did mean a quick trot up to the Iris pool bar to get an internet connection as well as seeking inspiration with a large, cool beer or two and the occasional swim. So here goes... a few of my laying up essentials. Firstly, once the sun stays low on the horizon, or on some days, never bothers to show its smiley face during the autumn/winter months, your boat may 'turn green.' Not just the decks and cabin surfaces away from the 'sun' but canvas work, furled sails, ropes etc will all suffer. To prevent this happening once you have given her a wash and coat of wax, spray a diluted solution of Wet & Forget on all the surfaces. By doing so you save yourself an awful lot of elbow grease and money (getting canvas work/sails laundered). Wet & Forget will keep the algae and mould at bay and incidentally if you have already got 'shades of green' you don't need to use any elbow grease. Just spray on and leave, nature will do the rest, either keep the contamination away or if you are already seeing signs of it it will be removed slowly by a combination of rain and wind!
Having said that if you are not using the boat in the winter, remove any item above deckthat can suffer, such as sprayhoods, sails, canopies etc, unless an item of canvas work is for instance protecting instruments or bright work. The more windage the more strain it puts on your mooring lines and cleats. Check your lines for chafe, cleats are secure and whilst on the subject don't forget to fit rubber shock absorbers to your lines and if you already have them stretch them out and check for signs of deterioration. Check your fenders, are they strong enough for the winter ahead?
It's a good idea to drain your water system down, especially if lifting out, as the air temperature can be a lot lower than the sea and consequently the interior of the boat a lot colder. However don't forget to run non toxic Freeze Ban through the system, you would be surprised the number of folks who don't. A small amount of untreated water in say the water pressure pump or the water filter can freeze and destroy that particular piece of equipment! A chap I know didn't run Freeze Ban through his system even though he drained everything and come next season filled his water tank and could not understand why the pressure pump ran continuously. Yes he was filling the bilges as a result of a plastic fitting failing when the water inside froze!
So once you have removed all the perishables, don't forget to remove all the soft furnishings and anything that will collect and retain moisture. It's then a case of keeping the interior dry. If you haven't got shore power the Starbrite No Damp dehumidifiers are an excellent way of drawing moisture out of the interior, however if your boat does have, for instance, a keel stepped mast (rain water can often find its way into the bilges) or say a weep on a stanchion you will need to be replacing the crystals on a fairly regular basis. If you have a dehumidifier, no problem plug and play but make sure it can drain into the galley sink. The two 240 volt units we stock are the excellent Meaco DD8L Junior and the Seago Smart Dry 2. Andy has used the former to great effect during his past St Peters River Tyne winter series, he credits the boats numerous wins to a good helm and his skill on the foredeck, cynics such as me put it down to a drier lighter sports boat!
Protect your engine, make sure that the antifreeze hasn't been diluted by topping up with fresh water during the season and is to the correct strength, change the oil and the filterand if an inboard consider one if those very economical tube heaters to leave under the sump. Eliminate condensation in your fuel tank by filling it up and make sure you add Marine 16 to avoid the dreaded diesel bug.
On the subject of laying up we have some excellent in depth (not written by me!) articles on our site. Read more on laying up for winter and also winterising your engine (inboardand outboard), you may save yourself a lot of hard work, heartache and expense next spring! As for me I am off to watch the rugby, pint in hand and sitting in the sun, yes it's a hard life but someone has to do it!