Skipper’s Tips #3 – Winter Cruising

I am a year round boater.  Come rain or come shine I’m to be found out on the sea and I have to tell you that despite the rain, which I loathe and the cold which you can wrap up against, time spent on the water during the winter months can be some of the loveliest.  Apart from anything else, the sea is virtually empty during these months: you can careen about like lunatics and not upset a sole.  Marinas are practically empty; there’s never a problem finding a parking spot and sometimes the sun will be shining down through crystal clear blue skies that make you feel supremely glad to be alive.

I first experienced the thrill of winter boating when I took some prospective Sealine purchasers over to Yarmouth for lunch. We were out on the water trying out a boat that they were thinking of buying.  We set off from the Hamble at ten o’clock and after whizzing around off Cowes for a while, we made our way to Yarmouth.  By one o’clock, we were sitting down, outside, under the most beautiful blue sky, to fish and chips – this was in December!

Each year, as summer draws to a close, many of us think about taking our boats out of the water, ‘winterising’ them, and resorting to magazines to fill the gap; it doesn’t have to be like that.  The winter months are peppered with bracing, yet calm and gloriously sunny days. The seas are empty and the ‘playground’ is ours. Imagine going out on Christmas day for a spin around the block and lunch at a waterside restaurant, with a roaring fire in the grate – what could be better?

If you do decide to take the plunge and keep your boat in the water for winter, I would suggest that you think carefully about the consequences of low temperatures and the effect this could have on your boat.

  • Have your boat lifted, scrubbed, anti-fouled and check the anodes
  • Service the engines, to make sure you have all new fluids and filters and identify any problems
  • Put heaters below decks – propping open the doors to allow the warmth to circulate. Greenhouse style tube heaters are ideal, especially for the engine room
  • If the temperatures are going to be particularly cold, you might even need to drain down your fresh water system – including the calorifier, open all the taps and take the shower head off the bathing platform shower hose
  • Make sure all your covers and the tonneau fit properly and are not ripped
  • Ensure your boat is tied on correctly and even put extra lines on if high winds are expected
  • Remember, boats sitting in fresh water, will not be as well insulated from the cold as boats berthed in salt water which is unlikely to freeze
  • Have your lifejackets and life-rafts serviced, check to see that your flares are all in date

Remember, it is even more important, during the colder months, when there are fewer people around and the water is that much colder, to take all the usual safety precautions, and to wear the right clothing and footwear.

Providing you are sensible, there is no reason why you cannot enjoy your boating all year round.

See you on Christmas day!

This has been another Captain Corbett’s Adventure.  If I’m not on Jersey teaching a private tuition Day Skipper theory or Yachtmaster theory course, then I’m either spending time with someone on their boat, giving them the confidence to take their boat out with their family and friends on board or I’m off somewhere exotic delivering a boat. Either way, I’ll write it up and put it on the Blog for you all to see, so keep popping back to see my most recent adventures.

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