The winter storage of a fibreglass boat requires care in order to ensure that the boat and its accessories will stay neat and tidy for as long as possible. The first thing to do is to wash and clean the boat as carefully as possible. You should move any cushions or other textiles into a dry place so that they will not absorb moisture during storage. The boat should be taken out of the water a few weeks before the temperature dips below freezing.
Protect your electrical systems
The boat’s electronics and batteries should be placed in dry and warm storage if possible, since the cold and damp outside air is not good for them. A recommended additional measure is spraying the boat’s fixed electrical connectors and grounding points with an anti-corrosion agent such as WD-40. If you intend to store the batteries in the boat over the winter, you should charge them fully in the autumn.
Support with care
Boats should be stored on purpose-built trestles or stocks and supported so that the boat’s load is evenly distributed, preferably along the entire length of the hull and keel. This will prevent nasty concentrated loads on the boat’s hull.
Protect it from the rain and snow
You should also protect your boat from the rain, snow and sunlight, for example with a tarpaulin. The protection should nevertheless be installed to ensure maximum ventilation inside the boat. Also, make sure that the tarpaulin will not flap in the wind. A rough tarpaulin slapped by the wind against the boat’s hull all winter can leave nasty abrasions on the boat’s paint. You should, therefore, minimise and protect the points of contact when securing your tarpaulin. Erecting a suitable tent or shelter over your boat is a good way of protecting it for the winter. To maximise ventilation, you should also leave all hatches and compartments as open as possible.
To prevent stuffiness and mould, you can supplement careful ventilation with moisture absorbers that will absorb any condensation.
Remember the engine
You should always follow the manufacturer’s instructions regarding the winter storage of your outboard engine. If the engine is to remain mounted on the boat for the duration of storage, you should have it checked and serviced before cold storage. The engine’s water jacket should also be completely drained in order to prevent freezing and corrosion. We recommend emptying the fuel system where possible. If this is not possible, you should mix a seasonal storage or stabilising agent in the fuel to prevent slime or lime from clogging the nozzles and pumps.
Inboard engines should also be prepared for winter storage as carefully as possible and, to prevent freezing, you should ensure that no water remains in any systems. Anti-freeze needs to be added to the cooling systems of some boats and removed in the spring.
Prepare for freezing
The bilge, septic, fresh and other water systems of all boats must be drained before winter storage, since water expands when it freezes, which can cause damage.