Marine News from the Great Lakes

The Right Winter Storage

Published: Thursday, September 5, 2019
By: John Bishara, Director, Newport, Rhode Island office, Pantaenius America Ltd.

All good things come to an end. When it is time for that last cruise of the year, most owners already have a solid plan of how to get their boat safely through the winter. Boaters who have just completed their first season, however, regularly ask us at Pantaenius what to look out for in winter storage. The following tips provide a brief overview of the pros and cons of different storage options and will help you decide which option suits you best.

Those who prefer a heated storage hall can be fairly relaxed about the approaching winter. However, it is possible to save money and make standard arrangements. Frost is, in fact, not a big problem for sailing and motor yachts, provided there are some precautions taken.

First and foremost, in order to prevent frost damage, yachts should not be left in the water during the winter months in areas where the water surface can freeze. Our claims department often deals with cases in which yachts have sunk because the valves have burst due to the ice.

As for the choice between outdoor storage or a storage hall, that depends on the owner's plans. If work is to be done on the boat, a storage hall is the best option. If the boat is simply to be securely stored, it is absolutely fine to choose the cheaper outdoor storage option; however, some extra measures should be taken if you pursue this option.

As a general rule: The drier the boat, the slower the aging process. However, this does not mean that a fan heater should run continuously during the winter. Under no circumstances should fan heaters or radiant heaters be operated unattended, as they are generally not designed for or approved for continuous operation. Our claims department knows of numerous cases in which the operation of such systems has led to total losses due to fire. Often, a small spark is enough.

It is best to simply ensure you have sufficient ventilation and air circulation, so that mildew and mold are not allowed to grow. Sails, lines, cushions, life jackets, and sailing clothes should be removed from the boat and stored in a separate, dry location. All floor and bunk boards should be stored high up and lid clips left open. Sprayhoods need to be taken down to prevent mold and because, if the boat is stored outside, they provide an additional wind-exposed area often leading to damage during storms.

The easiest way to prevent the damaging effects of dirt, rainwater, and UV radiation is to use a weatherproof tarpaulin. You should check regularly that everything is in order. If necessary, remove any water or snow from the deck or the tarpaulin, clear clogged cockpit drains, remove ice, clear condensation from the bilge, ventilate thoroughly, and retighten the tarpaulin. Water, ice, and snow can easily weigh up to several tons and thus, damage pulpits and deck rails.

In order to deter burglars or vandals from targeting your asset, you should choose your winter storage location carefully. If storing your boat outside, the area should be fenced in. Exterior lighting with motion sensors and night guards add extra protection. Always take any items home with you that are not fixed to the boat. Make sure that the cabin is always locked when you are away to prevent your insurance from being invalidated in case of burglary.

tags: Insurance, Storage

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