We are enjoying some of the best weather of the entire season on the Chesapeake Bay. While no one is rushing cold weather, now is the time to prepare for winter boat storage. We asked Brad Harrell, of Schuman’s Cleaning Service for some pro tips.
1. Prior to cover/shrink wrap.
Make sure your boat is clean and polished. Thoroughly cleaning all surfaces stops contaminants and stains from entering the pores of the gelcoat and certainly helps protect painted surfaces. It also prevents the oxidation process which leads to costly compounding and even a repaint job down the road.
2. Interior of cabin/bilges and engine room.
Make sure these areas are clean and DRY. DRY is the key word here. A boat closed up all winter will be a thriving mold experiment by the spring. Make sure bilges are emptied of standing water and cleaned as water can damage your pump from freezing and also cause odor. Adding moisture absorbers can provide extra protection. Also make sure you do not toss and store wet items (carpets, cushions, ropes) inside the boat.
3. Shrink-wrap your boat with proper support and ventilation.
Properly installed shrinkwrap or custom canvas covers (with support) are really important to help prevent leaking snow/water from entering areas that may have failing seals or leaks that you don’t know of. Heavy snow can break windshields, canvas Bimini tops, and ruin electronics that may have been covered merely by a Bimini top. Many shrinkwrapping companies provide routine checks and repairs, especially following storms or high winds. In addition to keeping an eye on your boat, Schuman removes and recycles wrap for free, which gets you ready to boat faster.
4. Take a detailed inventory of your boat, identify any necessary repairs.
Winter is the ideal time to schedule marine repair. Fiberglass, canvas, carpeting, electronics, and engine technicians are extremely busy in the spring, and waiting can significantly delay launch dates.
5. Schedule your detailing and shrinkwrapping as soon as possible.
Shrinkwrapping can only be done in ideal weather conditions which limits the available days. Make arrangements early to make sure your contractor can complete the job on time.