Extend 2020 Sail Cruising into Winter
2020 has been interesting year with the COVID pandemic and not forgetting the establishment of Wright Marine Ltd as a leading providing of Yacht Delivery Services. As the pandemic took hold and tightened its grip on every manner of everyday life a lot of things changed, including our ability to sail, cruise and simply enjoy our time on the water. As we lost a number of months due to restrictions it has left many boat owners feeling like now is the time to leave the boat in the water and enjoy a winter season afloat.
With many marinas offering large discounts on winter afloat options now may be the time to explore a new cruising ground, try a new marina or simply enjoy being on the water rather than a boat yard. Please be careful to check insurance’s as many providers will not insure boats on swinging moorings over winter.
Here are a few tips to consider if staying afloat.
1) Stay Warm
It sounds obvious but staying warm and dry is the key to having an enjoyable sail in the colder winter months. Try a lot of thin layers and technical base layers to keep you warm and dry. Remember now might be the ideal time to reproof those oilskins.
2) Keep those tanks full.
Keeping the fuel tank topped up is one of the best ways to avoid diesel bug, (the most common cause of issues on yacht deliveries after winter!). With many marinas operating shorter opening times on fuel berths keeping the tanks full will ensure your never caught dry. Be mindful of not letting your water tanks run dry, particularly during colder months as marinas may shut off pontoon water lines to prevent damage to pipework.
If the boat normally comes out of the water for maintenance try and plan what work needs to be done and can it be done afloat. Replacing a faulty bilge pump hardly needs the boat on a cradle but is essential if required. Always consider if the jobs/ maintenance are safety critical, consider devising lists of expiry dates such as flares, life raft servicing etc.
4) Passage Planning
With shorter colder days think about adapting passage plans, take into consideration crew welfare if operating watch systems. If longer passages are required consider pre-dawn departure so that the vessel arrives in daylight, this way it’ll be easier to spot any obvious hazards such as ice on pontoons.
5) Engines/ Batteries
In cooler weather it takes more power to crank a cold engine, ensure the batteries are well charged. During winter you may have to be more self-reliant have you got enough/ the right spares if you needed to replace a belt / top up coolant/ antifreeze. Now might be the time to take a diesel engine course or have the engine serviced.
6) Gloves/ Glasses
During the winter months the sun (when it appears) is lower in the sky, to prevent eye damage invest in a decent pair of polarised glasses. Gloves are ideal to help keep hands warmer, consider a pair of waterproof gloves which are suitable for sailing.
7) Cabin Heater
Although not essential cabin heaters such as Webasto, Eberspacher or Propex can make life more comfortable when at anchor or in a marina. These heaters run directly off the boats Diesel or Gas tank. Be wary about leaving them on all night your batteries will not thank you for it. Alternatively if on shore power consider a couple of tube heaters.
In colder climes safety of all on board should be of paramount importance, check those lifejackets carefully inspect firing mechanisms for corrosion. Check the pontoon itself give it a scrub with some salt water to make it safer when stepping off. If needed scrub the decks to remove ice or snow. When on passage consider clipping in earlier. Does the boats safety and navigational equipment work as it should, all lights operable and charts updated?
Unfortunately there is no escaping condensation when sailing during the winter. Think about what can be done to better insulate the boat. Consider opening vents and hatches when suitable, particularly if running a heater to allow warm moist air to escape. When on shore power a good quality dehumidifier will go a long way to removing dampness from the air.
10) Enjoy it.
Remember if done safely sailing during winter should be fun, go explore those quieter areas, enjoy being able to get a berth without booking weeks in advance. Although the weather windows may be smaller should the worst happen and you have to leave your boat – Wright Marine can always deliver it back for you.