How to prepare your boat for long term storage

Due to the Covid pandemic, the boat operators have stopped services due to the shortage of passengers. It has resulted in a large number of inactive boats all over the world. In such a scenario, storing the boat outside water is advisable. However, this is not practical in a country like India either due to cost or non-availability of dry storage space. The best alternative is to secure these boats in better quality water. We suggest some necessary precautions to reduce the aging in this scenario.

The details given here are for the most common boats. The system may differ in each vessel, but the procedure will remain the same. Regular inspection is mandatory even after we have safely secured it in water. These include:

  • Cleaning & protection of the hull
  • Engine and Genset protection
  • Propulsion system
  • Bilge area emptying & cleaning
  • Electrical panels & contactors
  • Disconnection of batteries
  • Securing the boat
  • Covering the boat

Cleaning & protection of the hull

The barnacles and marine growth that stick on the boat hull may damage the underwater area’s painting. It leads to the corrosion of the hull and failure of underwater parts such as bushes, bearings, anodes. For this reason, the crew or owner has to conduct an underwater inspection at regular intervals. They can do pressure washing as required. It is recommended to use warm water with detergent to wash out the dirt & marine growth.

Engine and Genset protection

  1. Perform oil change – This is important if you want to keep your boat engine safe. There is a good chance of water or chemical getting mixed with engine oil during the operational hours. If not removed, it could lead to corrosion and pitting of engine parts. Make sure to replace the filter, flush out the oil, and then add new oil.
  2. External Protection – Thoroughly clean the engine’s surface and ensure all areas are free from rust, dirt, and water. Then blow filtered dry compressed air for removing dust from the engine. Ensure that all the parts’ painting is in good condition as recommended by the original equipment manufacturer. Apply a thin layer of oil film for protecting non painted metal surfaces. You should ensure that the engine fuel line is full to prevent moisture in the fuel system. Greasing and lubing in regular intervals is mandatory.

Propulsion system

The propulsion system is the central part of the boat, so we need special care on this side. Firstly, we need to secure the vessel in clean and calm water. Next, we need to prevent foreign bodies from hitting the underwater area and propulsion system, including the shaft, bushes, propeller, brackets, and rudder. We also need to do regular inspections and cleaning to keep the system healthy.

Bilge area emptying & cleaning

The boat crew should remove the excess water or oil in the bilge area before leaving the boat. The onboard team should clean the area thoroughly using a wire brush and apply a thin layer of lubricant for preventing corrosion.

Electrical Panels & Contactors

The main enemy of electrical and electronic systems are moisture, heat, and dust. We have to ensure that all electrical panels and equipment are free from water and dust, by cleaning all electrical terminals using contact cleaner. Rodents are another threat to the wires and cables, and we need to stop them from entering the boat.

Disconnection of batteries 

We should disconnect the battery cables. Inspect the battery for physical damage like leakage and bulging. The battery has to be appropriately cleaned and ensure that electrolyte is at the minimum required level. Please remove the battery from the boat and store it in a cool, dry, and ventilated place. We have to keep the battery fully charged to avoid deep discharge and thereby ensuring battery health. Every month battery voltage needs to be measured and if the voltage is below 12.5V charging is mandatory.

Securing the boat 

Boat securing is a routine operation, But for long-term storing, we have to consider boat length, draft, tide, wind, and waves. We have to find a place having enough space, water depth, less tide, low wind, and good visibility from all angles. The mooring has a critical role in securing the boat. We have to arrange bowline, stern line, and spring lines to prevent the vessel’s drifting during extreme weather conditions.

Fenders are mandatory and have to be positioned between jetty and boat to prevent rubbing of the hull against the jetty. We should select fenders based on weather conditions and boat specifications as there is a chance for rollout or burst of the fenders due to high tide and waves. So regular inspection is mandatory.

Covering the boat

Covering the boat is a good idea. It will protect the boat from sun, rain, and dust. It will also protect the vessel from tree leaves, birds, and animals. The light-colored covering is advisable for limiting temperature inside the boat.

We can summarise the benefits of boat storage as:

  • Reduced overall maintenance cost 
  • The extended life span of the boat 
  • Quality assurance
  • Healthy machinery and equipment
Boat Maintenance: Give Proper Care For Your Boats
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