For some of our C-Tow members, winter is just another season to enjoy the water! Whether you’re travelling around the world like our friends at Magic Carpet Sailing, or live in a coastal area like Wayward Life’s sailors, you may have an opportunity to boat year-round. For this Tipsy Corner, we’re focusing on saltwater winter boaters, with a few quick tips to keep you safe, warm, and ready to make the most of your boat, 365 days a year.
De-ice your decks. Slippery, icy decks are a disaster waiting to happen. For saltwater boaters, however, the answer is all around you! Saltwater and a quick scrub keeps your decks ice-free.
Charge your batteries. In cold weather, batteries are faster to drain. You may need to take them home occasionally to top them up, or invest in solar power. This is especially important as starting a cold engine uses more power than turning the boat on in summer weather.
Consider condensation. Especially if you’re in a live aboard situation or spending a lot of time on the boat, condensation happens quickly, fogging up ports, hatches, and even hulls. This can lead to mold and mildew eventually. How to combat it? Heat! A heated cabin fires the air, whether you’re using a space heater, forced air, or a stove.
Get good lines. You will need strong dock lines with chafing protection to deal with winter winds.
Keep lifejackets dry and ready. Your lifejackets are critical year-round, and especially important in extreme cold. Keep lifejackets in a dry location when they are not in use, and be sure to wear one when underway.
Have a communication device ready. Getting stuck on the water in summer is not great — getting stuck on the water in a winter storm is immensely dangerous. Have a charged phone, transponder, and/or marine radio, and be ready to call C-Tow for help, or the Coast Guard for emergency assistance.
Winter boating is a great way to extend your season, enjoy peaceful waters, and reduce the amount of work you have to do to prep your vessel for a spring launch. With these tips and careful planning, you can live the dream without stopping!