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Laying up your boat for the winter

At the end of the summer season, boat owners will be turning their thoughts to storing their boats for winter. All boats are exposed to various risks and perils during long periods of inactivity so we have prepared the following advice to help you avoid some of the common claims we deal with during this period.

Hopefully with our advice you can help keep your boat in tip-top condition and have you sailing effortlessly again when the spring arrives.

Sailing dinghies

If your dinghy is to be left in a dinghy park throughout the winter:

  • Make sure it is properly tied down and secure and its cover is in good condition and fit for purpose
  • Do not leave sails and other removable items onboard
  • Remove and winterise outboard motors
  • Make sure your trailer is locked
Yachts and motorboats

Claims for theft and vandalism are on the increase and frost damage was also a major problem for some of our clients last year so consider the following:

Sails and canvases

Remove all sails, dodgers and canopies. This will not only reduce windage (one of the main causes boats are blown over) but will help to extend their life. Winter gales make short work of any fabric left out on deck, especially furled head sails. UV exposure for example accelerates the build up of mould and mildew causing further damage. All sails benefit from being laundered and serviced. This not only extends their life but helps avoid claims on an insurance policy where you may have to bear a large proportion of the loss.

Frost damage

Last year's severe frosts caused considerable damage to engines. It is therefore considered good practice that engines are winterised in accordance with manufacturers' recommendations to ensure adequate protection against frost damage.

Outboard motors and metal theft

There has been a steady rise in the theft of outboard motors since 2009. If an engine can be removed easily then it's an open target for thieves. All claims on marine policies for outboard motors are paid on an indemnity basis; there is no entitlement to a "new for old" settlement. It is therefore essential to ensure that outboard motors are secured against theft and if possible taken home and locked away. You may have read in the press that metal theft is also on the increase and many owners may be at more risk this winter. Easily accessible brass or bronze propellers make an attractive target for thieves. So if they can be removed, store them securely away from the boat.

Personal effects

We recommend that you remove all personal effects from your boat and store them in a warm safe environment. By doing so you will also make your boat less attractive for thieves to break into.

Cradles and trailers

We deal with many claims for boats that have either fallen over in their cradle or are damaged by un-roadworthy road trailers. Most policies will insist that cradles and trailers are fit for purpose and it's recommended that you undertake a thorough examination before they are put back into use after being left dormant for long periods.

In General

Particular care should be taken if leaving battery chargers or dehumidifiers running over the winter period. There have been a number of devastating fires on boats resulting from electrical faults on shore powered devices.

Keeping your boat dry during the winter is good advice but you should ensure that any dehumidifier you use is secured and has clean filters and adequate draining facilities. If you plan to have a heater running for long periods you should ensure that you are not overloading circuits and that you have the right type of heater as this could significantly increase the risk of fire.

Periodic inspections during the winter months are part of boat ownership and will help you extend the life of your boat and its equipment as well as reducing instances of insurance claims.

Find out more

If you are unsure about any aspect of your current policy or would like to discuss an extension to your cover, please call us on 01245 291107 and we will be delighted to help.