Preparing your yacht for storage over the winter period should be an important part of your maintenance regime. Your boat will be left for many months untouched so it’s crucial everything is cleaned, serviced & safely stowed. Winter is also the perfect time to carry out any maintenance work, so when the season comes around, you are ready to launch without delay.
Below is a short guide to the key areas of winterisation that we as riggers, recommend and why they are important.
Un-stepping mast: We recommend that a yacht’s mast is un-stepped and thoroughly checked at least every 3-5 years. When left standing in the winter, the mast is exposed to all the elements. When we un-step a mast, it is stored in a well ventilated, dry mast store for the winter. Protected from the elements, this will reduce wear and your potential workload. Just a simple wash and polish will prepare the mast ready for relaunch.
Complete mast & rig survey: In short, this is a full MOT for your yacht’s rig and deck gear. This job does require a professional’s knowledge to carry it out systematically & to determine the outcome of the survey. A rigger will be lowered from the masthead to deck level, checking over all aspects of the rig as they descend. We then create a comprehensive, formal written survey with our specially developed app. You will then receive a highly detailed report accompanied by detailed images, with a full breakdown of all the yacht’s rigging part and any work advisories.
Removal & storage masthead gear:We strongly recommend that masthead gear (masthead nav lights, anemometer and aerial) be removed every winter to prevent unnecessary wear and to protect from bird strikes. Depending on whether the mast is still stepped this is a simple task that just involves disconnecting the units and storing them down below. You may require a rigger if you are not comfortable climbing the rig yourself.
Un-bending sails: We always recommend that sails and covers are removed yearly and either stored on board or sent to be valeted and serviced. Again, by un-bending your sails you are protecting them from the elements, preventing UV damage and ultimately prolonging their life. Valeting removes the salt from the material, which if left untreated can degrade the stitching.
Remove sprayhood & dodgers for valeting/reproofing/servicing:As with the sails and sail cover, we recommend that the sprayhood and dodgers are also removed and sent to be valeted, re-proofed and serviced. Removal will prevent the material from unnecessary wear throughout the winter months.
Rig tension, check & tune:Unless this is something that you are confident undertaking yourself, we would recommend appointing a rigger. We check that all standing rigging has good tension, the mast is square (upright) and true (not bent). If required, we will tune the rig based on our knowledge and experience. If you have Loos gauge figures, we will calibrate the rig to your settings. You can then be confident that the mast is safe and secure over the winter months.
Standing rigging turnbuckles, thread check & service: As with tuning this is something that requires knowledge and know how. It can be completed by yourself; however, it may be worth seeking a riggers advice. All turnbuckles will be removed, threads cleaned and checked to ensure they are in safe working order. When refitted to the standing rigging, Tefgel will be applied to all threads to extend the life of the turnbuckles. By servicing turnbuckles, you are preventing the risk of corrosion and fatigue.
Deck gear service:It is important that all deck gear is serviced annually. Turning blocks, deck organisers, travellers and clutches should be thoroughly checked, flushed thru’ with hot water and lubricated. By completing this process, you are removing salt water from all moving parts of the deck gear. Lubricating allows it to run smoothly without friction and unnecessary wear.
Winch service:Winches should be serviced at least yearly to ensure they’re in safe working order. With the knowledge and the right equipment, it’s possible to complete the task yourself. However, if you don’t feel confident, it is recommended you seek a riggers’ advice. Typically, we would look to carry out the following work; remove winches and bring to the workshop. Deep cleaning in a parts washer with all old grease, grime and salt fully removed. Once clean winch parts will be inspected for wear. Finally, the winch will be rebuilt, re-greased and oiled. Given the heavy loads winches are placed under, it is important that they are maintained to the highest standard.
Running rigging, wash & service:We recommend all running rigging is removed, washed & serviced before being stored for the winter. By removing salt from ropes, you are also preventing any unnecessary weathering occurring. When left in situ, ropes tend to go green and stiff due to exposure to the elements for a prolonged period.
Anchor chain & docklines:We recommend that every time you use the anchor chain, you carry out a quick visual check of the chain links. This will ensure there is no visible faults in the chain and that it’s in safe working order. This also applies to your docklines – check them regularly to ensure there is no chafe and they’re in good working condition.
Liferaft, remove and service:Winter is the perfect time to check when your Liferaft was last serviced and how old it is. A Liferaft should be serviced every 3 years, until it reaches 9 years of age and then it is necessary to have the raft serviced annually. At this point we recommend upgrading to a new raft to offset the high costs of yearly servicing.