Laying Up for Winter

Laying Up For Winter

Read on for top tips and advice on jobs for the winter. If you are going to use your boat during the winter months not ALL of the following will apply, however moisture and the danger of very low temperatures can and do cause problems If you are not using your boat...


Sails, Canvas and Furlers

Canvas Work
If it’s a yacht we suggest that your remove ALL sails if you have already 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! 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. Once you take the genoa off the foil we strongly recommend you run a foil saver up the furling system track and tension using a 6mm pre-stretched line. By using one it will save the foil from shaking itself silly on a windy day.For both powerboats and yachts with canvas work, be it canopies, spray hood, bimini, dodgers, winter gales and chafe are enemy no 1. They can shorten the lifespan of a canopy etc by at least 50%. Enemy no 2 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, they are not cheap but worth their weight in gold. If your budget allows, send your sails and canvas work to us and we can wash (remove the salt crystals that damage the stitching and fabric, grime etc ) 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 great, as is Starbrite Mildew Stain Remover should you have some black spots! Granger’s Fabsil is the industry standard when it comes to re proofing, if you have washed your spray hood or canopy its worth using. DO NOT, under any circumstance, use a high pressure washer to remove bird droppings or green mould this can knock the stuffing out of the fabric and stitching in five seconds flat. The ‘softly softly’ approach of soaking and use of a sponge/soft brush is the only way.
Foil Saver

Halyards and Mooring Lines

Halyards and reefing lines; It’s worth purchasing some thin strong line, attaching to the tail and carefully pulling them through (make sure you use a tough string label to identify them). Also 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 in warm water only to remove salt and dirt deposits. If your boat winters afloat check the condition of your mooring lines, especially where they goes through a fairlead or are made of 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. Last but not least, any lines taken of the boat should be coiled when dry, avoiding kinks and finally do not store in direct sunlight.

The Galley

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 rubber flexible hose.  One of my favourite  galley cleaning products is Vistal (almost the same as Universal Stone which we used to sell however Vistal is made in the UK) its great for hobs and work surfaces including Corian. Check for perishable foodstuffs and remove, likewise out of date ‘emergency’ supplies. 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, likewise, lockers and cupboards.

The Heads

The Heads
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 Clean & Green (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, suggest you leave in the system overnite for maximum effect then flush system thoroughly. For cleaning the toilet bowl I use and recommend Starbrite’s toilet bowl cleaner, its specially formulated not to damage seals or valves.

Water Systems

Don’t forget to drain down your fresh water systems and run non toxic Freezeban 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 systems had been drained down, sufficient water had been trapped to expand the appliance and cause in, some cases, an expensive repair.

Soft Furnishings

Soft Furnishings - By Storrar Marine Chandlery
Down below, remove as much/many of your soft furnishings as you can, however be careful where you store them. Mice do so like to make their nests out of fabric and foam! So if they are going in the attic or garage or wherever, worth loading up a couple of traps with some rind from that rather nice Stilton that you have just polished off. For cleaning vinyl we would suggest either Starbrite’s Vinyl cleaner and Shampoo or their Vinyl Cleaner and Polish. For woven fabric, Sunbrella fabric/vinyl cleaner is an excellent product that we have used with success. Peek Spray Away is a superb spot cleaner (saved our skin on a couple of occasions when our fitter has walked muck thru the shop)


Make sure you wash down all hard surfaces in the saloon and cabins with something like a very mild solution of Bilgex, remember a little goes a long way and its harmless to paintwork and fittings when diluted. When added to bilge water it 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 and Clothing

Remove all foulies, lifejackets, clothing and take them home. For foul weather gear we recommend that you wash them with Granger’s 2 in 1 which is a combined cleaner and proofer it can be used with confidence on Gortex and other breathable fabrics (to maximise water repellency tumble dry after on a med heat setting)Lifejackets; If auto, remove the activation unit and gas bottle 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

240 volt 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 operates using the ‘desiccant principle’ and will work at a lower temperature than those using a refrigerated coil. No power supply? Then the Starbrite No Damp Dehumidifier is great for removing moisture and of course refill packs are also available.If you have the luxury of a 240 volt supply its worth investing in a tube heater. They are available in a variety of sizes, with thermostats, and prices start as low as £29-95. These low power consumption heaters create air circulation in enclosed spaces and help to prevent condensation, dampness, mould and mildew. If you can leave hatches a tiny bit open it will also help.


Wet & Forget is superb at keeping the green algae which tends to form on boats in the winter (especially the side that does not see so much sun), you dilute, 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!
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