tarp sags against the paint, trapping moisture
against the surface. Any cover that isn’t well-supported will accumulate snow and water,
which adds considerable weight to the boat.
Are the cockpit drains clear? Many boats
are damaged and even sunk by nothing more
than a few leaves blocking cockpit drains.
Water trickles through the companionway,
stains the interior woodwork, delaminates
the cabin sole, and soaks into bulkheads,
leaving open the possibility that rot will rear
its ugly head sometime later. In one instance,
water trickled through the keel bolts, which
then froze, and pulled the keel away from the
Have you taken electronics and other
valuables home for the winter? Most marinas
are like ghost towns in the winter, with little
or no security, which makes stored boats
an easy target for thieves. Electronics and
other valuables (tools are a popular theft
item) should be taken home for safekeeping.
Finally, no matter how well it’s secured at the
marina, a dinghy will always be safer in your
garage or backyard.
If the boat is stored ashore, is it supported
properly? Lysle Gray, boating sage and the
retired president of the American Boat and
■ Outriggers stored at a 45-degree angle are prone to bending in ice storms. Outriggers
should be disassembled or, if that’s not possible, stored vertically.
■ Take home cushions, rugs, clothing, and anything else that retains moisture and encourages mildew. Open up locker doors to circulate air down below.
■ Unless you’ll need to leave one aboard to operate a bilge pump, all batteries should be
taken home, recharged, and stored for the winter.
■ Plan on visiting your boat regularly, at least once or twice a month. All too often, skippers
rely on bilge pumps to bail them out when they’re away. The pump fails, the boat sinks. If
you can’t visit your boat frequently, consider using a buddy system with other boat owners.
Another alternative is to ask your marina manger to keep an eye on the boat. Many marinas will inspect boats, usually for a fee.
Yacht Council, noted that almost as many
boats are damaged ashore by improper blocking, as are damaged in the water. A few of the
boats are toppled over by wind, but many
more are damaged slowly, plagued with problems like broken stringers and loose tabbing
at the bulkheads.
Most boatyards do a competent job of
positioning supports, but it never hurts to dis-
cuss technique with the yard manager. With
jackstands, the stand should be perpendicu-
lar to the hull so it directs the boat’s weight
toward the ground. Misalignment of the stand
will force it out as the load is applied. Even
if the stand is aligned perfectly, safety chains
must be used between the stands on each
side to keep them from slipping out from
under the hull. The jackstands should be
placed as far out from the boat as practical to
support the boat in high winds, with at least
three per side for boats over 26 feet and addi-
tional supports at long overhangs. Plywood
should be placed under each base to prevent
it from sinking into mud, sand, or asphalt.
Even when stands rest on clay that seems
brick hard, they can be loosened by heavy
spring rains, shift, and spill the boat.