Preparing a Sailboat for a New Jersey Winter

Posted by Michael Bandera - November 18, 2012 - sailing knowledge - No Comments

Many of our sailing school graduates who have become sailboat owners are interested and concerned on how they should prepare their sailboats and engines for a cold New Jersey winter.  At our sailing school, which is located in New Jersey, we have 4 sailboats to prepare each year for a winter lay-up.  So we have quite a bit of experience.  In this blog we will discuss the procedures that we follow for the winter lay-up of a typical 30 foot sailboat.

1. Sails/Canvas

At our sailing school all sails and canvas (dodger and bimini) are cleaned, removed, and stored inside the sailboat.  The cabin cushions are removed, cleaned, and stored in our extra bedroom at home to prevent the growth of mold and mildew.

2.  Fresh Water System

Both water tanks are completely emptied and then filled with 1-2 gallons of non-toxic (pink) antifreeze.  The water heater is disconnected, drained, then bypassed so we can flush hot water lines with antifreeze.  Next we run all taps (hot/cold) until pink antifreeze comes out of each faucet.  the water system is now protected from the freezing New Jersey winter.

3.  Diesel Engine

While tied to the dock at the sailing school, the diesel engine is run in forward gear until the temperature reaches approximately 160 degrees.  Once the engine oil is hot enough to flow smoothly the engine is shut down.  the oil is then drained using a pressurized siphon tank.  After the engine has cooled we place a zip lock bag under the oil filter to collect spills and catch the old oil filter as it is spun off.  Spin on the new oil filter and fill with 4 quarts of 10W30 oil.  We then move on to the sailboats fuel system which contains 2 fuel filters.  One is changed from the top of the water seperator’s canister and the other is located on the side of the engine as a spin on type.  The fuel system is then bled to prevent air blocks.  The diesel engine is then restarted.  We next fill a 5 gallon bucket with 1-2 gallons of antifreeze, close the thru-hull at the intake, remove the hose from the thru-hull, and place it in the bucket of antifreeze until antifreeze comes out the exhaust.  The engine is shut down and ready for the harsh New Jersey winter weather.

4.  Batteries

The starting battery and 2 house batteries are topped off with distilled water, charged overnight, and left on board.  The sailboat is plugged in once a month  at the sailing school to keep the batteries fully charged.  A fully charged battery will not freeze.

5.  On Land Storage   

At our New Jersey sailing school there is some debate on whether storing the sailboat in the water is better for the hull than on land storage.  However, since we can not check on our sailboats during the winter, we choose to store all of our sailboats on land.  We wash and wax the hulls every fall and spring to protect the precious gelcoat.  We have tried every type of frame and tarp for the Catalina 30, including shrink wrap, and finally broke down and bought a custom winter cover.  We believe a winter cover is well worth the time and money spent in order to prevent snow accumulation as well as protect the hull and decks from 6 months of the sun’s harmful u.v. radiation.

With proper care and maintenance a sailboats winter lay-up can be a simple do-it-yourself task that can add years to a sailboats hull and engine.  At Barnegat Bay Sailing School we spend approximately 12 hours getting a 30 foot sailboat fully prepared for a cold, snowy, New Jersey winter.  A small investment of time enables us to enjoy 6 months with peace of mind.

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