Tecktalk - Laying Up

Oct/Nov 1999 Telltale page 3 - by Tom Winlow and Marcel Laroche.

Dreadful words are they not? But the process of laying up can, in a Zen kind of way, be a fun and rewarding one. One thing I have found is that taking careful stock of the boat in the fall, checking all the bits and pieces, and looking at what really should be done produces a good list of projects some of which can be done in the winter in the basement. It also allows for some planning so that things don't get out of hand in the spring.

First the engine

if it doesn't travel home with you. Change the oil again. Run the engine until it is fully warm and then pump out the oil and change the filter. Good multi­grade oils are best.

Synthetic oil promotes leaks around gaskets and seals. Once a leak has started, reverting back to regular oil may not stop the leak. Check the specifications for your motor. Do this a few days before hauling so it is as fresh as can be. As soon as it is hauled drain the water out of the engine and muffler and replace with antifreeze. Run the engine until the antifreeze comes out of the exhaust (15 sec). Don't forget to clean the water strainer. You can use RV antifreeze if it contains rust inhibitors, but if you have a closed cooling system (i.e. heat exchanger) do not use RV antifreeze. RV antifreeze is available at the Chandlery. The nice thing is that in the spring you can simply run the engine when launched and know that you are being environmentally friendly. Make sure that the thermostat is open when putting in the antifreeze. I do this by running the engine for a few minutes with the cooling intake hose in a bucket full of hot water. Every couple of years or so it is a good idea to remove the thermostat and check whether it opens at the correct temperature for your motor. Some people fog the engine with winterizing oil. Now is a good time to remove the raw water impeller. Take care with the gasket and it can be reused.

Also loosen the alternator belt. Stuff an oily rag in the air intake and exhaust and that's about it. If you have a gas engine, remove the spark plugs, turn over the engine for 5 seconds or so and shoot WD40 in the plug holes and replace the plugs. Oh yes might as well check the oil level in the gearbox ­ bet you didn't do that all summer. How often should that be changed?

Now the water systems

Drain all the water from tanks, put RV antifreeze in and pump through all the taps. Clean the strainer.

It is essentially the same for the head. Flush lots of water through the tank first to clean it well. I remove the water intake hose from the seacock, stick it in the antifreeze and pump a quart or two into the holding tank. This makes sure all parts of the head are full of antifreeze, which is a good thing come the first time you use it in the spring. Don't forget to put antifreeze in the icebox pump if you have one that doesn't completely drain, and in all the bilge pumps. Pour antifreeze in the bilge and pump it out both automatic and manual pumps. I also throw a bit down the cockpit drains as well. Don't block the drains because the cockpit may fill with a lot of ice!

I have been leaving the seat cushions in the boat as I simply do not have space anymore at home. I pile them in the quarter berth which minimizes exposure to the air and I leave a couple of open boxes of baking soda in the boat. No problem, but then I do make sure everything in the boat is very dry and it is well covered with the tarp. I remove all the other stuff and take it home and I do not lock it up. If the perp has gone to the trouble to get up into the boat in the middle of winter a small lock is not likely much of a deterrent. Open all cabinet doors and drawers. If your mast is stepped through the deck, put a small laundry basket over the hole for ventilation. VENTILATION is very important!

And while I am on the subject, let's support whoever organizes a security watch this year. One night till 2 am or so won't kill you and who knows you might find your partner has some good sailing stories.

The rest is optional. A good cleaning before tarping is good, not only for the boat, but also for the soul. Check the bottom for any repairs, have a look at the zinc, clean the speedo impeller, take home the wood bits for a coat of varnish, have a go at the gelcoat crack that's been bugging you all summer, carefully inspect the rigging, remove and clean those blocks and lines, and don't forget to keep a tot of rum around when the story telling starts. We do get some beautiful days after haul out and before hard water sailing starts.