Unless you are fortunate to live in an area that is favorable to boating all year round, you will need to undertake hauling and laying up your boat at the end of the season. Just as it is important to properly maintain your watercraft during boating season, you also need to make sure that you protect your boat while it is in dry dock. This brief outline covers the very basics that most marine insurance companies advise when hauling and laying up your boat. Consult with your marine insurance policy or insurance professional for more detailed advice for your watercraft.
While still in the water
You can get quite a bit of the work done while your boat is still in the water. At some point you will end up spending more days wishing you were on the water than actually operating your boat, making this a perfect time to get a head start on the hauling out.
Take care of the outside of your boat. This is the time to put away any items that you would normally put in storage; think canvas material cushions and covers and extra mooring lines. Thoroughly check your anchor and anchor chain by removing it out of the anchor rode, taking time to clean these items.
If you own a sailboat, remove the sails for storage. Carefully inspect the sails, looking for any tears or rips. Clean and dry out the sails before packing them away. When preparing the rigging for storage, look for any damaged lines that need to be repaired. Clean and dry the rigging before putting them away.
Some boaters do not remove their masts for winter storage, but it can be a good habit to get into even if every other year. Removing the mast will give you an opportunity for a better inspection of all mast rigging.
Examine your power sources. If you use AC shore power you should turn off the circuit breaker on the dock before inspecting your receptacle. Check for any damage to connector prongs or darkening of the plastic around the prongs. Ace Marine Insurance reminds boaters that faulty power receptacles are a leading cause of fire on boats; a peril most boaters do not even think about. Also check your fuel tanks and shut off the valves and be on the alert for any gas leaks.
Moving to the inside of your boat, you will want to make sure that all decks, windows, hatches and portholes are free of leaks. Wear and tear while using your boat during the season makes these areas particularly vulnerable to the elements.
Drain your fuel tanks of as much fuel as possible. Gasoline tanks can freeze over the winter if moisture is allowed to get into the gas line, plus any water in the gasoline mix can separate and eventually rust out the gas line. Keep in mind as well that gasoline has an incredibly low flashpoint meaning that it sparks very easily, so ensure that all spare gas containers are removed and carefully stored in the appropriate facilities.
Note: if you plan to store your gas tanks at home, carefully review your homeowners policy as there are usually limits on how much gasoline can be stored on your premises; often just one gallon.
Diesel fuel tanks are different in how they absorb water; best to fill up the tanks to prevent air and condensation from forming in the gas line. Unlike gasoline engines, diesel engines do not need to be emptied out.
Winterize your boat to protect it if you live in a harsh winter climate. Batteries and generators should be removed and stored in cool, dry conditions to prevent corrosion. Remove all of your personal belongings to keep them safe during the winter as thieves look for equipment to steal when boats are in storage.
Time for the haulout
Make sure that the staff members at your marina are properly trained to lift boats safely and properly out of the water. Inspect the bottom of the boat for any damages. You can also have the bottom cleaned to remove any accumulation of debris before your boat is packed away.
Boats must be blocked properly. This means that the boat should be set up to ensure that it will be properly supported. You also want the boat to be positioned in such a way to prevent rain or melting snow from collecting in your boat. All drains should be able to keep the water out of your boat. Jackstands should be constructed of strong material to withstand the winter and should be placed securely at the hull/structural bulkheads.
Now the boat is on land
Once on land, conduct a very thorough examination of the outside of the boat. Pay attention to any underwater transducers, through-hulls, propellers, overdrives and exhaust outlets. All of these areas are susceptible to marine growth, cracks, scrapings and other wear and tear through the boating season.
When checking the inside of the boat, clean out any cooling systems, perform an oil change, and ensue that all interior winterizing measures are in place. You may want to check out your boat during the winter to make sure severe storms or winter conditions are not affecting your boat covers.
Knowing the basic requirements for hauling and laying up your boat will help you protect your investment and keep your insurance policy in good standing. By next spring you will be able to spend less time getting your boat ready and spend more time out on the water.
Great comprehensive advice on hauling and laying up can be found at www.acemarineinsurance.com plus much more information about your boating insurance needs.