seacocks are open and draining properly.
Unstep the mast of trailerable sailboats
to reduce windage.
BOATS STORED IN THE WATER:
Check docklines for wear; replace iffy
ones. Double up lines where possible.
Inspect dock cleats and hardware. If
questionable, consider tying lines directly
to pilings. Center your boat in the slip
using long docklines and spring lines to
account for higher-than-normal tides
and to keep the boat away from the
dock; this prevents the boat from banging into the dock or even becoming
trapped beneath it. If your pilings are
appropriate, consider using TideMinders
( tideminders.com), which allow lines to
roll up and down pilings.
Add chafe protection to lines, and
inspect chocks and fairleads for damage or sharp edges that could damage
docklines. During a big blow, I’ve seen
the sharp edges of a damaged chock saw
through a new line in a matter of minutes.
ones as needed.
This is one area
where bigger is
better. Two or
will prevent dock
than five undersized ones.
proper operation of all bilge
pumps, automatic float switches, and
bilge alarms – you do have a bilge alarm,
right? Keep seacocks for cockpit drains
open. Plug exhaust ports to prevent
possible flooding should snow pile up
and force them underwater. Be sure to
remove them before using the vessel. Tie
off or secure steering wheels and tillers.
Boats stored in the water are vulnerable to damage from water-level extremes,
strong winds, and snow. Check on your
boat before, during (if it’s possible to do
so safely), and after the storm.
If your boat is under a covered dock,
note that our claims files are rife with
boats that were damaged when snow
load exceeded build strength and roofs
collapsed. Move your boat to a safer slip.
Better yet, bring it ashore.
BOATS ON A LIFT: Check the condition
of lift wires, chains, and fittings. Clean
the cockpit of debris, such as leaves, that
could clog scupper drains; claims for
broken lifts due to boats overloaded with
water occur every winter. Remove the
bilge drain plugs so deluges can empty.
Ensure that all scupper drain seacocks
are open and that they all drain properly.
Check that hoses are in good shape and
properly connected. Consider removing
your boat from the lift and storing it
ashore, say on a trailer.
Like death and taxes, boat winterization
in colder climes is a fact of life, for it’s
a certainty that if it isn’t completed in
the fall, it will surely result in damaged
systems and lighter wallets come spring.
We’ll assume that you’ve completed
the general boat-system preps listed above
and are a step ahead of a winter storm.
But don’t get complacent. Visit your boat
well before the storm hits to make sure
all is ready and as you left it when tuck-
ing her in for her winter nap. In addi-
tion to the steps outlined above for your
Southern neighbors, check the following:
BOATS HAULED/STORED ASHORE:
Check your winter cover, whether canvas
or shrink-wrap. Ensure that it’s properly
secured with no loose ends, rips, or tears.
Winter storms in the North tend to have
higher winds, so make sure jackstands
are secure. Loose covers, especially those
with grommets, can do some damage to
that pretty hull. Make sure they’re tied
BOATS STORED ON A TRAILER:
Check winter covers, verifying that each
is in good condition and properly secured.
Trailered boats, without the benefit of
sitting in temperature-moderating water,
feel the cold before their docked brethren, so double-check that all systems
have been properly winterized. High
winds can topple trees, so choose a storage area out of danger.
BOATS STORED IN THE WATER:
In many northern locations, strong winds
can pile up water and significantly raise
and lower water levels beyond the norm.
Make sure that your dock-tying strategy
takes these extremes in mind. Heavy
snow can weigh down a boat until the
scuppers are forced under and backflow,
sinking the boat. If you don’t have a cover,
ensure that drains are free, and check
on your boat as soon after the storm as
possible. After a storm, temperatures
often plummet, and your winterizing will
be tested. Double-check that any place
in your boat that holds water has been
drained or filled with antifreeze rated for
at least the coldest temperatures that are
likely to occur.
Captain Frank Lanier has more than
30 years of experience in the marine
and diving industries, holds a 100GT
master’s license, and is a SAMS-accredited
is one area
Ideally, sails should be removed and
stowed ashore before a storm. If that’s not
possible, however, they should be secured
to prevent unfurling and flogging.