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Unless you’re a keen winter sailor, or your job revolves around water, chances are that if you own a boat you’re already making plans to look after it over the winter.

We’ve created a handy checklist to help you prepare for winter, to ensure that you’re ready to start the new boating season stress-free.

It may seem like a daunting task to get your boat ready for winter, so we hope this list helps, whether you are keeping your boat on a berth or ashore:

  1. Decide where you’ll store your boat. Whether you’re thinking of storing your boat on a berth or ashore, Milford Marina has a range of options for boatyard storage and winter berthing, whatever your requirement

  2. Make sure your insurance is up to date and that you are familiar with terms and conditions within your policy in relation to winter storage. It’s a good idea to check what is (and isn’t) covered within your policy too, wherever you keep your boat this winter

  3. Winterise your engine(s) and take the opportunity to service the engine, gearbox and stern gear (or leg), and replace your impeller. It’s a good idea to look at all the other mechanical systems such as the steering or any trim systems during winter, to avoid any potential issues in the summer. If you need any help and advice, speak to the Marina Team who can put you in touch with our on-site marine service businesses

  4. Check boatyard availability and book your space. The Milford Marina Boatyard gets very busy over the winter, so booking a space early is essential. 12 month contract holders get 10 weeks free boatyard storage included, but boatyard-only contracts are also available at £2.65 per week, per metre

  5. Ensure you’re ready for hard storage. Check the condition of the cradle, legs or trailer your boat will be stored on. If you are using a trailer, ensure that the tyres are in good condition and safely inflated, and the brakes are tested. If you are storing your boat at Milford Marina Boatyard and need to hire cradles or chocks, please let the Marina Team know

  6. Book a boat lift, if required, to move your boat from the water to the Milford Marina Boatyard. If you are planning on towing your boat out of the water yourself on the slipway, please let the Marina Team know, as winter is a busy time for boat lifts in this area

  7. Make sure your boat is secure. If your boat is on a berth, ensure you have secure fenders and lines, and consider rubber snubbers on mooring lines to minimise the impact of the winter weather. If you are storing your boat ashore, make sure that it’s securely chocked and that any covers, halyards and lines are safely secured and stowed

  8. Clean your boat. If your boat has been in the water for a long time, it will need to be washed down when lifted out. If you are lifting your boat out for winter, scrape off any barnacles and weed from your hull thoroughly before you store it. If you are keeping your boat on its berth at Milford Marina this winter, you can book a lift and hold at any time so that you can wash your boat at the top of the slipway and inspect for any issues at the same time. Inside your boat, remember to empty your fridge, making sure you dry it and leave the door open to prevent mildew growth

  9. Check and test electrical systems. Spraying electrics with WD40 will help prevent corrosion and removing batteries or connecting them to a charging system is also worth doing, as it will prevent them from becoming heavily discharged

  10. Protect the cabin from condensation and moisture build up by opening cupboard doors and lifting seat bases. Consider using a dehumidifier and/or heater through the winter to help keep the cabin dry and prevent mildew growth. Consider covering your boat – this is particularly important with open boats which don’t drain. If you can, leave a slight opening in the bow and the stern to let air ventilate through

  11. Remove and store what you can. Windscreens, spray hoods, sails, rigging and soft furnishings should all be cleaned appropriately and stored indoors over winter. This process will also enable you to pinpoint any repairs which need to be carried out before the new season. Safely store any electronic and navigational equipment as well as any instruments and radio equipment which may get damaged. You must also remove gas bottles

  12. Drain the fresh water and holding tanks. Draining and cleaning the fresh water systems and leaving the taps open will prevent fittings potentially being damaged by freezing conditions. You could also flush your seacocks through with fresh water and lubricate moving parts to prevent them ceasing, if your boat is going to be stored on hard standing. Servicing your toilet is advisable, and if you’re leaving your boat afloat be certain to keep the seacocks closed. It is also a good idea to wash out your bilges with detergent and fresh water to remove salt, and do the same for lockers, drawers and live wells. Please remember that the emptying of liquid waste into Milford Marina is not allowed, so please speak to the Marina Team who will advise you how and where you can dispose of waste water

  13. Perform routine checks when your boat is in place for the winter. In particular, you will need to check your boat cover and the dehumidifier and/or heater (if you are using one). If you choose not to put a cover on your boat, make sure you clean the scuppers and check the bilges for water ingress regularly. If your boat is at Milford Marina and you cannot visit it as often as you’d like to, please contact the Marina Team at any time – they carry out daily checks anyway, but do these more frequently in bad weather

  14. Stay social. Our customers enjoy getting together at our monthly social events. These are a great opportunity to catch up with fellow berth holders over the winter. So, even if your boat is safely hibernating until spring, we’d still love to see you for a cuppa, a cake and a chinwag!

This checklist is not exhaustive, but we hope you find it useful. If you need any further information on winter berthing, the boatyard or services at Milford Marina, please get in touch or call into the Marina Office at any time.

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