November 2012

Winter layup

Get your boat ready for a good year

Winter layup

If you don’t live in a climate where you can boat all season, you’ll want to get your boat ready for its annual rest. Follow these tips for a quick, safe start in spring.


Clean, inspect and organize your anchors, chains and locker. Pay attention to wear and the connections between components. Soak anchor rodes in fabric softener and water overnight and rinse with fresh water. Rinse all your lines, too.


Electrical connections, metal-to-metal fasteners and non-stainless steel parts all need attention to survive the elements. Spray fasteners with a protectant, and replace damaged units. Don’t neglect stainless steel components such as rails and instrument casings.


Remove all electronics and store them in a dry, climate-controlled environment to prevent condensation and insect invasion. Coat electrical connections with Corrosion Block, and spray metal screws with a burst of WD40 or CRC 06007 6-56.

Navigation lights

Boats under 39 feet are required to have a port red sidelight, a green starboard sidelight and a white all-around light. If your boat has a bicolor light that combines sidelights, make sure the colors don’t leak to the wrong side. Sidelights must be visible for one nautical mile, and all-around lights should be visible for two. If not, replace the bulbs with brighter, higher wattage ones. Check the light socket for corrosion that could interfere with the electric signal.


For maximum performance, inspect leading edges of prop blades for gouges, nicks, rough spots and cracks. Smooth minor nicks and gouges with a machinist’s general-purpose file. Use fine sandpaper to carefully complete the blending and achieve a smooth surface. File and sand parallel with the blade, not perpendicular to it. Serious cracks and damage should only be repaired by an authorized dealer.

Check for bent prop blades by placing a ruler against the antiventilation plate so that it touches one blade’s tip. Slowly turn the propeller while firmly holding the ruler in place. If the blades intersect the plane of the ruler during this rotation, they are bent. They should be straightened or replaced by a dealer.

Required service

Some operations can only be performed by a qualified service shop, especially with fuel-injected engines. Schedule annually required service in the fall, as opposed to the busy spring.


Periodically check raw-water strainers in a boat’s engine, generator, refrigerator, freezer and air conditioners for damage. Disassemble the strainer and remove the plastic sight glass. If the component has any cracks or damage, replace it. Rinse the strainer and rub it clean. Check the strainer’s stainless steel mesh ends. If they are compressed, replace the strainer. Inspect and replace or grease all seals.

Zinc anodes

These nifty components prevent or reduce galvanic corrosion, the deterioration that occurs to dissimilar metals in an electrolytic solution (water). Replace zinc anodes at least once a year.   

Wrapping up

Inspect fuel filters, hoses, clamps, connectors, belts and electrical lines, anchor lights and running lights. Are life jackets clean and usable? Do they have whistles? Check ancillary systems such as fresh water, bilge, circuit breakers, fuses and lighting. Start a maintenance log and jot down your decommissioning procedures so you know where to begin in the spring. –



Ship's Store

Mastering Marlinespike

Slipped buntline hitch

The slipped buntline hitch is somewhat more difficult to tie than the buntline hitch, but it’s worth learning because it unties easily.


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