At Ocean Racing we want you to know that we feel what you are going through this time of year. You may have pulled your boat out of the water and placed it in storage. You may have even used one of those creepy shrink wrap systems, the only good thing about those shrink wrap systems is, it is like unwrapping a full sized sailboat in the spring. It is like a little kid's dream! The scary shrink wrap is super important if you live in a climate that is not kind to things that are living. Actually if you want to protect your boat during storage, shrink wrapping is ideal. Just like our sailing sunglasses protect your eyes from harmful and dangerous glare, the shrink wrap protects your valuable boat.
There are a few things that you need to do to get your boat ready for winter storage. Gone are the days of your youth when winterizing your boat meant turning it upside down on the grass. These days boats are complex machines that need to (as you probably already know) have constant care. If you thought that your prom queen girlfriend in high school was high maintenance, you should thank her, because she was a piece of cake compared to your boat.
The absolute first thing you need to do in order to get your boat ready for winter storage is pull it out of the water and clean it. Like really, scrub down all surfaces, inside and outside, top to bottom. Clean it like the cops are coming to look for your fingerprints. While you are cleaning it is a good idea to look for the little things that will need protection while your boat is in shrink wrap. Attend to the instruments, and any and all electronics that may be on board and the controls.
Sitting idle for however long your boat will be in storage is not good for those little moving parts. The nature of moving parts is that they tend to deteriorate if not used for a while. It is a great idea to use a lubricant like WD-40 to prevent moisture from entering and rust from forming in the little moving parts like hinges, cables and locks. The best thing about cleaning your boat before putting it up for the winter is it is an opportunity to inspect the whole thing. Inspect areas that simply are ignored though normal use, areas that could use attention every once in awhile. This way when you unwrap your big present next year there are no surprises.
Your boat more than likely has an engine, and if that is the case, winterization is critical to the survival of said engine. Your common outboard motor is much more complex than your grandpa’s Evinrude. Today’s engines are made to be much more durable but that does not mean that maintenance can be neglected. To prepare for storage the first thing you want to do is change the engine oil and filter. Be sure and start the engine after the oil change to give the cylinders a good coating. In fact, while you are doing the oil change, dump some fuel stabilizer in the gas tank and allow it to circulate the fuel system during start-up. Flush the cooling system with clean water and, just to be safe, unhook all of the battery cables.
You are now ready to lock your baby away in a sarcophagus of heat shrink. So take this final opportunity to stand on the deck with a frosty beverage and shed a few tears. Don’t worry, she will be safe and ready for next year.