That nip in the air is signaling the end of another successful sailing season on the Chesapeake Bay. After you have winterized your water and fuel systems take some extra time now to help protect your equipment and to make your spring launch easier.
Remove your sails
No matter how many times you wrap your sails, a nor’easter will inevitably come along and find a way to hoist your sails allowing them to flap freely in the wind until the next time you check on the boat. Save yourself the worry by taking your sails off the boat for the season. This will give you an opportunity to properly inspect them for wear and tear and to send them for service while the sail lofts are not as busy. Also, instead of stuffing your sails into a bag take the time to properly fold them and store in a dry location. Taking these few extra steps will not only save you time in the spring but will extend the life of your sails.
Empty your boat
Most of us have enough supplies and gear on our boats to host a party for ten. Finding storage for all of your equipment can be a challenge however crucial if you want to keep your boat critter free and your equipment ready to use in the spring. At a minimum get all food and drinks off the boat. Next, make room for any boat cushions, bedding and linens. These make excellent nesting materials for mice looking for a warm place to sleep. Electronics should be the next item to keep safe and dry. Subfreezing temperatures could wreak havoc on chart plotters and radios over the winter. Finally, purchase storage bins to fill with your miscellaneous galley and personal items. If you are wise you will take the time this winter to evaluate what really needs to go back on the boat in the spring. You will be amazed at what you don’t need.
“Spring Clean” your boat
Once you empty the inside of the boat do your normal spring cleaning now. Wipe down all washable surfaces with a 1:10 bleach water solution to help prevent mold and mildew. Allow the inside to dry completely before closing her up for the winter.
Give the outside of the boat a good scrubbing before either tarping or shrink wrapping. If you have time consider putting a coat of wax on the hull. This will help the winter grime wash right off in the spring. If tarping, use water-filled gallon jugs to help keep the tarp taunt to prevent water and snow from caving in the tarp.
A little bit of effort now will get you back on the water faster in the spring.