Exterior Boat Maintenance Tips For Winter
To begin the exterior boat maintenance tips for winter, focus on the hull and topsides of the vessel. The method you choose will depend on how you plan to store your boat, either out or in the water. Below are some tips for each type of storage:
Out-Of-Water Winter Storage
Start by pressure washing the hull, ensure you clean of any barnacles. Pay specific attention to the props and shafts, rudders, struts and trim tabs. Clean all thru-hulls and strainers. Open the seacocks to allow any stored up water to drain. Evaluate the hull for any blisters, if there are any, fix or open them to drain over the winter.
Now it’s time for a complete wash down of the boat. Remove rust stains, tree sap and water stains from the topsides and hull. Don’t skip this process as these stains can become permanent by spring. Next, give the hull and topsides a thorough wax and compound treatment. This helps to prevent oxidation and UV damage.
Boat-In-Water Winter Storage
For keeping your boat in the water over winter do the following. Make sure to close all the seacock valves. Next check the rudder shafts and stuffing boxes for leaks. If you find small leakage simply tighten or repack as needed.
Moving on, inspect the dock lines for strain damage. Replace or add chafing gear to the line to prepare for impeding winter storms. For boaters in area where the water is prone to actually freeze, consider installing a de-icer. This can help prevent ice forming against the hull which may lead to “ice jacking” that can tear through the hull. Last but not least, check the boat on a regular basis or have the marina complete this and report back to you.
Exterior Protection: Boat Covers Or Shrinkwrap
The method you use for protecting the exterior of your vessel comes down to personal preference. Both options offer adequate protection from the elements, but which to choose is up to you.
This type of cover ranges in price and install quality. Owners tend to hire professionals to install it own their boats. Shrink wrap does provide waterproof protection but its non-breathable. If moisture gets under the wrap it may cause damage such as mildew up to rot damage.
Canvas Boat Covers
Most boaters know the biggest advantage of using a boat cover is they can reuse it season after season. The downside is covers are more expensive than a single shrink wrapping session. But any good quality boat cover will protect the boat from the elements for seasons to come.
Another bonus is they’re made of breathable materials like canvas. This allows for air flow which helps trapped moisture escape. Plus you can access the interior of the boat throughout the season to check up on it.
Now take a look at the props on your boat. Determine if they need repair or only need a good cleaning. Prop maintenance is a perfect DIY off-season job for boaters of any experience level.
If your props have chips or damage send them off for repair and have them delivered back early or mid-spring. This saves time and avoids last-minute issues, such as confirming with a professional if the prop needs replacing.
However, if the props just need cleaning, apply many coats of anti-fouling cleaner. This reduces the potential growth of barnacles, in both freshwater and saltwater. Props that are free of foreign growth increase their ability to operate at maximum performance.