It is with tears in my eyes I begin cleaning out the sailboat for the end of the season. We live in Illinois, I know I am sorry too. Things need to be prepared for winter. Although, we store our boat in a covered hanger, it is not heated.
There are a few things to consider when you are getting your boat ready for winter in a northern state.
Electronic equipment does not like being left alone in the boat all winter. You risk damage from battery leakage. I bring in the handheld VHF radio, wind meter, hand held GPS, flashlights, and everything with batteries. I take out all the batteries and put them in a plastic bag. We can then use them in toys for the grandkids and items around the house. I want fresh batteries in all my toys come spring. Storing all my electronics in the house keeps it from somehow taking a walk and finding a new home.
We also bring in our boat batteries and keep them charged up. This helps them last longer. Considering these marine batteries cost over a hundred dollars each, we want them to last for years.
Condensation and moisture in your boat are really bad things. You don’t want mold. Once you have it you will forever fight it. You will also have stains. Mold stains are impossible to get out. It is much easier to keep it away than it is to get rid of it.
We remove all the seat cushions and mattresses. Some people place them on end and move them around from time to time. Our kids are all grown and we have an extra bedroom, so we store our cushions in the house. You will want to remove all fabric. The fabric will hold moisture and grow mold. With that said we remove the following items and store them in plastic tubs with cedar balls until spring.
- paper products (mice love paper towels and toilet paper)
- our LifeSling (because it is vinyl)
- life jackets
This is also the time when I take the 1st aid kit and ditch bags in and go through them. I look at all the expiration dates. If something is going to expire before the end of the next sailing season it goes in the trash or gets put in the house medicine cabinet. I take all the food and water out of the ditch bag. Yes, I get to eat the M&Ms. If you take the time to make a list of everything you remove , you will have an easy time shopping and restocking come spring.
Once the boat is completely cleaned out, I wash down everything with vinegar to prevent mold. Putting moisture absorbers all over inside the boat will control the moisture and keep the mold at bay. I only have to replace them once toward the end of the winter. Someone told me you can also get them at Dollar Tree. If you attend the boat show in Chicago this January, they hand them out at the door.
Opening up all the cabinets and storage doors will help the moisture get out and the air to circulate.
If you leave food or paper products in the boat you will come back in the spring to an extended family. I don’t know about you, but I like my family members to have only 2 legs and not 8-10 babies at a time. So all this comes in the house.
You will want to take all the food in and use it up. Making a list of the things you removed will help you replace it next season. Remember the goal is to keep the mice out not feed them and to be able to get you back in the boat quickly come spring.
Putting peppermint tea bags in the corners will keep the mice and insects out. They hate peppermint. Putting peppermint tea bags near the companionway door makes the mice think twice before trying to get in. Again, the mice do not care about the brand, cheap works just as good as premium brands. You will need to remove them from their sleeves. You want just the tea bag.
I also take small pine calls called doll heads and soak them in peppermint essential oil. You do not need to buy the expensive essential oils. Get the cheap stuff at Wal-mart. The mice do not know the difference. You can get the balls in the craft section of Wal-mart. They are called doll heads because they have a hole in the center. This hole is important because it helps them become saturated with oil. Just place the ball in a Ziploc bag and put enough oil in to coat them. It usually take about 15-20 drops. Then simply shake the bag to coat and let sit. Once they are dry you just need to place them around the boat and in the cubbyholes.
Freezing and Bursting
The last thing you want to do in the spring is replace pipes or water containers because yours froze and burst. We take the water tanks out and empty them. Do not forget to drain the pipes and empty out the toilet. I run vinegar through the water lines and the toilet to keep mold and other unwanted stuff from growing.
Come spring all I need to do is throw out all the tea bags and pick up the doll heads. I actually coat them with oil again and put them back. It really seems to help keep the spiders out. This is a good thing as far as I am concerned.
You will also want to dispose of all the moisture absorbing bags once you start taking her out again.
Spring is a good time to wash the inside of the boat to get the winter grime out before taking all the totes out and restocking the boat.
SPRING, PLEASE COME FAST! SEABREEZE IS LONELY!!!!