The leaves are falling, the days are getting shorter and the weather is becoming colder. With winter months rapidly approaching, sailors are facing the sad reality that sailing season is coming to an end. No matter how hard we try to ignore it, the shortening of days forces us to accept that sunny days and clear skies will soon be replaced by snowstorms and ice. It is around this time that we all prepare for the season ahead by cleaning out our garages, closets and homes. So, as you trade out swimsuits for snow pants and pull out your snow shovels and anti-freeze, remember to give your boat the same treatment. RS Sailing boats are built to be sturdy and durable, but winterizing your boat will help keep it performing at its best for years to come. To help you, we have created a 10-step guide to get your boat ready for winter, so that come spring, it will be nothing but smooth sailing.
2) Clean Your Lines and Sails
The best way to clean your sails is by hand with a clean sponge, a bucket of water and liquid soap. First, lay your sail out on a clean flat area and find the areas that are the dirtiest and begin to lightly scrub with the wet sponge. If your sails are in good condition, you may simply only need to spot clean rather than wash the entire sail. Wash lines with a mild detergent like Woolite or a half dose of a mild laundry detergent.
3) Roll and Store Sails
After you inspect and clean your sails, ensure they are dry, then fold and store them. It is best to store your sails in a safe, dry location, like a garage or storage locker. Make sure that wherever you store them is off the ground and away from moisture. You also want to make sure that they aren’t in a location where birds or mice can get into them.
4) Drop the Mast
Dropping the mast ensures it will not get damaged during transport or storing. Snow, wind and ice can damage a mast if it is not removed and stored properly. Water in the mast can create cracks and can also lead to mold or mildew. Like with the lines and sails, make sure that your mast is stored in a dry location.
5) Drain the Boat – Inside the Hull and Cockpit
This is one of the most important steps when winterizing your boat! Water in the winter is your enemy because it expands when it freezes and can do a lot of damage to your boat, including causing cracks. Make sure you drain the hull and cockpit of your boat completely. Then dust off your best sponges and shammies to get rid of those final droplets! Draining your boat now will help keep your boat dry when you sail it in the future.
7) Clean the Hull
Now is the perfect time to clean your boat and get rid of any marks and bumps that developed over the summer. We recommend cleaning your boat with a simple sponge and dish soap. For those hard–to–tackle stains, a natural cleaner, such as Simply Green works well. Bleach can be used for spot treatments but should be diluted. Stronger cleaners run the risk of damaging or removing the gel coat and should be avoided.
After you finish cleaning, check for any dings or cracks. Before you cover and store the boat you want to make sure to repair any damage to avoid water entering the boat and causing more damage. For small repairs you can buy and RS Sailing repair kit. For larger repairs contact your local dealer.
Given all the work you just did to drain and clean your boat you want to keep it safe from getting wet and dirty over the winter. Covering your boat will help protect it from weather and moisture. If you don’t have a cover for your boat, check-out Top Covers and Undercovers at RS Sailing Store. Alternatively, you can use a tarp and bungee cords or lines to create a makeshift cover.
10) Start Thinking About Spring!
It may seem like spring is a lifetime away, but it will be here in a few short months. If you take care of your boat now and winterize it correctly, you will save so much time and energy come spring. So even as you enter into a state of sailing hibernation, start thinking about all the fun and excitement awaiting you once you can get your boat back on the water! Head to RSSailing.Club to check-out event listings in your local area and plan your next season.