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Old 07-09-2019, 04:11   #1
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Cold Winter Storage -- How Bad Is It Really?

I have spent every winter during the 10 years I have owned this boat in the warm water of the Solent, enjoying winter sailing and not needing to do any winterizing. Once in a while I'll spend a month or two on the hard for more extensive maintenance, but it's so warm there that you don't worry about the boat. The previous boat I kept in sub-tropical waters where no one even knows the word "winterize".



Now I'm in Helsinki and am extremely busy with a project I'm working on, and I'm considering NOT sailing back to Cowes, for the first time. One variant is to sail to Copenhagen, 550 miles from here, where I have friends and where the sea doesn't freeze, so I could stay in the water, and where I can probably find services and trades to do winter maintenance (of which I have a long list).


But as an alternative, how about doing like the locals do and simply take the boat out of the water in October and leave her on hardstanding? How bad is it, really? I hate the idea of letting her freeze through and through, but people seem to get away with it.
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Old 07-09-2019, 04:25   #2
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Re: Cold Winter Storage -- How Bad Is It Really?

It’s not bad at all. There is absolutely nothing wrong with doing that. In fact, your boat is better for the wear because you aren’t exposing it to salt water for a little while. . However, the one caution area is if you have any water incursion in the core of your boat.

Obviously, water expands when it freezes. So if you have water inside the core, and then it expands, it will cause more delamination.

The rest of the winterizing is dead simple. Just run non-toxic antifreeze through everything. Through the engine freshwater system, any generator cooling systems, all freshwater plumbing, the heads, drain the hot water heater, and through the bilge pumps. Anywhere you have water flowing, that’s where you need the nontoxic antifreeze.

it really only takes a couple hours to winterize a boat.

some people also like to put a plastic shrink wrap cover over the deck. Depending on how shiny and bright your boat is, that can help it look nicer in the spring. Also, that keeps water out of any leaks you might have in hatches or around ports. Those leaks can also ice up and have expansion creating larger leaks in the spring.
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Old 07-09-2019, 04:29   #3
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Re: Cold Winter Storage -- How Bad Is It Really?

Funny question because that's all I've ever known; hauling out for winter. I don't know what it's like NOT to haul out for winter.

Done right, it's no problem at all. In some ways it can be easier on the boat.

Of course "done right" means proper lifting, and then placement on good stands or cradle. It means proper winterizing of all freezable systems, which mostly means engine and plumbing. And then it likely means a proper cover to protect from moisture to avoid freeze/thaw cycles.
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Old 07-09-2019, 06:05   #4
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Re: Cold Winter Storage -- How Bad Is It Really?

I always sound like Mike who beats me to posting. It’s the only life I know. Four months after haul out we launch the ice boats and sail again but the big boat sleeps frozen.

BoatUS and others publish winter haul checklists that can help. Absolutely no water anywhere- sneaky places like raw water foot pumps, shower heads, anchor locker, bilge.

Youll want to keep snow off the boat since it thaws, runs to low spots, and expands when freezing again. Up north this causes fractures and more, that’s why we store indoors. But a proper frame and tarps can be good enough. If There will be wind, tarps will beat themselves to shreds so need to be tight and well secured.

Excellent opportunity to take the mast down for inspection and projects. Make sure it’s above the snow so mice don’t get in and eat the wiring. Cover both ends to keep birds out.

Darn we are a months away from this routine....again.
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Old 07-09-2019, 07:57   #5
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Re: Cold Winter Storage -- How Bad Is It Really?

By the time I pull the mast and put a shrink wrap on, I might as well have sailed to Copenhagen
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Old 07-09-2019, 08:51   #6
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Re: Cold Winter Storage -- How Bad Is It Really?

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By the time I pull the mast and put a shrink wrap on, I might as well have sailed to Copenhagen


No no no. Lol.

They do this to every boat on the hard in cold areas. They use a crane to unstep you and put you on stands in about an hour's time total.

Then, the shrink wrap company comes around and does its thing. Takes them a couple hours. Meanwhile you can winterize the boat in 2-3 hours.

Total time is about a day. For everyone.
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Old 07-09-2019, 09:00   #7
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Re: Cold Winter Storage -- How Bad Is It Really?

Why ask us? As you are in Helsinki, all you have to do is telephone a yard or two and ask them what they require of you to haul and store your boat. If the Helsinki yards are already fully booked, try Turku. There's gotta by yards all over that end of the Baltic.

I should think that with all the commercial boats requiring hauling and servicing for the winter in those waters, a 20 tonner should be no particular problem, and while I don't know this, I doubt very much that de-masting would be required.

As others have said, non-toxic AF goes a long way, but I shouldn't be surprised that you can contract with the yard to do the winterizing and even take your batts into their shop/storage and keep them "maintenance charged" until spring.

Let's know what you can find.

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Old 07-09-2019, 09:36   #8
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Re: Cold Winter Storage -- How Bad Is It Really?

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By the time I pull the mast and put a shrink wrap on, I might as well have sailed to Copenhagen
Here on the Great Lakes we have a short sailing season, and the boats spend more time on the hard than in the water.

Many people, like me, don't pull the mast, or use a winter cover. And I've never had an issue or damage.

As others have said...a few gallons of antifreeze. I fill the diesel tank full to the top (to reduce condensation in the tank) and do an oil change on the engine as well. All sails and cushions go home to heated storage (hidden under beds mostly). Leave all the cabin lockers open to increase airflow.
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Old 07-09-2019, 10:46   #9
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Re: Cold Winter Storage -- How Bad Is It Really?

Quote: "Many people, like me, don't pull the mast, or use a winter cover. And I've never had an issue or damage."

Same here in the Salish Sea. Admittedly we have a most benign climate, and most of us are afloat all year. At times the stormy winds do blow in the winter. But why would that compel you to pull the mast is you go on the hard? The windage of a mast - even with roller furled sails left in place - is not (normally) enough to tumble a boat off a cradle. And yards storing boats on the yard's own cradles assume the entire liability for the boat's safe storage while it's on the hard. Liability transfers to the yard the moment the boat goes in the clings and continues until she's outta the slings in the spring. That's why yards like owners to skive off while the serious work of hauling is done. Apprising the yard of safe supporting points for the cradle-pads IS, of course, the owner's responsibility, as is apprising the yard of where the prop shaft emerges and of the prop's position.

As for a winter cover - why on earth would you cover a boat designed to live with green water sloshing over the decks against something so comparatively trivial as rain and snow? If your scuppers are clean and unobstructed, accumulated rain and smelt water obviously just goes down 'em. Put a "mushroom" over your cockpit scuppers so they cannot develop a "snow plug" that can freeze and block the scuppers.

The canvas "winter cover" just increases windage and in a hard wind causes more shaking of the hull in its cradle than there needs to be. Get a hard wind sneaking in under the cover and next thing you know, it comes loose or even blows apart.

TP's PO blew away five grand on a winter cover, and that was 20 years ago when five grand was still money. He shoulda used the money to reseal the pilot house winders :-)! He cured THAT problem by having canvas covers made for those windows. I'm guessing fifteen hundred bux minimum. But, of course, the windows still leak if we ship water while under way. Be it said in PO's defense that back then, those newfangled "universal tools" had not yet been invented, so sealing windows in situ was not really possible the way it is now.

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Old 07-09-2019, 18:03   #10
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Re: Cold Winter Storage -- How Bad Is It Really?

Iíve removed my masts about 1/2 the time. Otherwise I leave them up. Kinda depends on how long it has been, and whether I need/want to do some work on them.

Itís not a big deal. Yours is bigger than mine (), but a small crane does the trick easy.

Winter cover: Iíve always covered our boats. Mostly itís to avoid snow load, but it also limits water intrusion onto deck and cockpit. Those in the more balmy south (south of L. Ontario, or the American eastern seaboard) can easily get away without a cover. I donít know what Helsinki winterís are like, but I suspect itís rather gentle, what with the Gulf stream running up there and keeping things pretty warm.
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Old 07-09-2019, 18:05   #11
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Re: Cold Winter Storage -- How Bad Is It Really?

Strongly recommend a bronze garboard drain be installed at the lowest bilge point.Leave plug out for winter-just in case rain/snow /water gets in bilge.


My insurance does not allow any heat aboard during storage. You don't need any.The cold air is dry & nothing grows.
Leave normal deck vents open to allow good air circulation-between cold dark nights & warm sunny days.
Leave all bilge & locker hatches,cupboard doors,frig.,etc ajar to allow air circ.
Fully charge all batteries. Totally disconnect one post (+ or -) from each bank so you are sure there is no drain. They will be fine left aboard-your choice.
Remove all freezable goods-liquid & solid.
Good advice has been given about non-toxic antifreeze. I simply place the suction intake hose in a jug of a/f & run the engine till the a/f comes out the exhaust for a bit. Drain all water tanks & pour a ltr or two of a/f in the tank. Draw water off at each tap until pure a/f flows.
I leave the a/f in the systems for the winter-no problems yet.
You must suck a/f into the intake(small hose) of your head in order to fully protect the head.Dumping a/f in bowl is not enough.
The Finns should be very familiar with winterizing as others have noted.
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Old 09-09-2019, 20:40   #12
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Re: Cold Winter Storage -- How Bad Is It Really?

Here in the Great Lakes (Michigan to be specific) many yards offer heated indoor storage in insulated warehouses. They keep the temp at 55F and give you the combination to the door so you can get in and work on the boat. Some consider it too expensive but I find that the boat looks better in the spring and needs less maintenance. And you don't have to winterize anything--engine, plumbing, bilges, all stay liquid. Its worth the cost to me and saves a lot of work winterizing, covering, uncovering, cleaning, etc. The yard puts her away basically ready for sea, and she's ready to go sailing in a few minutes next spring. Launch, drop in the sticks, rig the booms, and set sail.
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Old 10-09-2019, 04:52   #13
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Re: Cold Winter Storage -- How Bad Is It Really?

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Here in the Great Lakes (Michigan to be specific) many yards offer heated indoor storage in insulated warehouses. They keep the temp at 55F and give you the combination to the door so you can get in and work on the boat. Some consider it too expensive but I find that the boat looks better in the spring and needs less maintenance. And you don't have to winterize anything--engine, plumbing, bilges, all stay liquid. Its worth the cost to me and saves a lot of work winterizing, covering, uncovering, cleaning, etc. The yard puts her away basically ready for sea, and she's ready to go sailing in a few minutes next spring. Launch, drop in the sticks, rig the booms, and set sail.

That sounds good, but the cost here is astronomical!! Over Ä10 000 euros -- and that's in Estonia.


Looks like I'm going to be sailing out of this cold climate.
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Old 10-09-2019, 06:16   #14
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Re: Cold Winter Storage -- How Bad Is It Really?

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Looks like I'm going to be sailing out of this cold climate.

Probably the best thing to do in the long run. Unless you will cover your boat (mast up or down), the snow/ice accumulation will pay a toll on your boat. No matter how leak free you think everything is, it only takes a little bit of water to get underneath and freeze. The shrink wrap for your boat isn't going to be cheap (besides not the most environmentally friendly material) nor would a fabric cover (unless you would use it several seasons).

If you haul out and you have any water intrusion in your rudder you'll find out by spring time. Similarly water in the bilge isn't good. A limber hole mentioned is a good idea if you are going to make a habit of putting it on the hard in cold places. If its only this time, make certain you have anti-freeze in the bilge.

Putting it on the hard doesn't make economic sense nor the time effort to winterize and then get everything up and running again. Also climbing up and down a tall ladder w/tools, parts, etc. is a pain compared to having the boat at the dock.


My vote is to move it to Copenhagen or Cowes.


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