Willie Thomson is seen tying down the tarp along Sisu's boom, putting the boat to bed for the winter. Photo by Barb Thomson

Boating with Barb: Winterizing your boat is a laborious, but necessary task

You’ve tied down the tarp, secured the lines, and pulled the plug on the season.

It’s been one gale force warning after another, days of high wind and rain. Pleasure boats that can be hauled out of the water and stored, have been. Large yachts equipped with big screen TV, or sailboats with tall pointy bits, generally stay in the water. You sigh. Boating season is over. Meanwhile, the elements of our West Coast winter plan their multipronged attack and gory feast on the delicious smorgasbord of tender organics you have now left hobbled and floating alone. The bell tolls, not for you, but for the fungus dinner to about to start on your boat.

Determined to fight, you pulled Nigel Calder’s book off the shelf, the Fourth Edition of the Boatowner’s Mechanical and Electrical Manual: How to Maintain, Repair, and Improve Your Boat’s Essential Systems. On page 920, you found Appendix A: Checklist of Winterizing Procedures and felt mildly faint. All this stuff is on my boat? Calder acknowledges how “enhanced onboard lifestyles” have resulted in “a great deal of sophisticated equipment for which the boatowner now becomes the primary custodian, maintenance person and trouble-shooter.” This is because, says Calder, we want the comforts of home inside a boat. What can be a “daunting task,” to prepare for winter, out of the 10,000 or so species of mold, at least a few are ready to give it a try.

You googled “Winterize Your Boat,” and saw images of pock-marked cabin walls that sent you running out to buy antifreeze additives, biocide treatments, and fogging oil. You carefully flushed, drained, and stabilized. Then you removed the boat’s cushions (a favourite food of black mold), emptied the cupboards, opened the lazarettes, in the hope of preventing the tenacious spores from colonizing anything dark, damp, cozy, and just out of fingertip reach. That’s most of the boat. Next, you plugged in the heavy artillery, a boat-show-special marine heater with 10 settings twinned with a two-cup dehumidifier that hums and sips water from the cabin air, only a few feet higher than sea level.

Night-night boat. But before you can tip-toe away off the dock, your boat calls out a parting shot from under the covers, “Hey Santa, not so fast. I need canvas repairs, maybe a new dingy, and an upgrade in navigational electronics.”

The boat wants all your presents.

BoatingComox Valley

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