In autumn, the big cranes begin. Because the prevailing opinion is: Who wants to protect his boat from frost damage, which brings it ashore. Well covered under a tarp or even better in a hall. (See also our article on the subject of boot hibernation). But there is another way: If you follow a few rules, you can have your boat hibernated in the water even in our latitudes.
A glance towards the Netherlands or Scandinavia shows that a large proportion of ships survive the winter safely even in the ice. For all seasons you must have the best outboard motor for the money to survive in the ocean.
What are the advantages of wintering in the water?
For overwintering in the water, first of all, the costs speak for themselves: cranes and winter storage, possibly even with indoor space, are not negligible especially if you have a water berth anyway, where the rent is not limited to the summer months.
Another advantage of wintering in the water: the season has no end. Although in our latitudes the time on the water in the summer is the most beautiful, so there are also sunny days in late autumn and winter. Those who leave their boat in the water in the water often have the most beautiful areas for themselves. With the right clothes and a heater below deck is also a trip at freezing temperatures in the way.
Of course, depending on the type of boat, you should still regularly take off to inspect the sunken ship, to change victim anodes and to renew the antifouling. And especially with older GRP boats, the risk of osmosis increases if the laminate cannot dry regularly.
What are the possible risks and dangers?
Unfortunately, there is also a particular risk in the winter storage in the water: autumn and winter storms can be quite intense in our latitudes, and even storm surges can be jams and boats to fatal. If there is moving ice, it may cause damage to the antifouling and possibly to paint and Gel coat. If not correctly taken care of, ice-burst hoses can quickly create a significant leak.
Therefore, in general: There should always be someone living nearby, who can see in the doubt about the right. Then you can control the risk and you can fully enjoy the benefits of the water berth in winter. Reports of overturned boats in the outdoor camp and burned boat sheds also show that winter storage on land is not without risk.
Attention: Despite conscientious research, we cannot assume any liability for damages resulting from the following tips. Of course, every owner acts at his own risk.
Which ports are suitable for wintering?
Wintering in the water does not work everywhere. For example, some harbors take their jetties out of the water in winter or rent moorings only from April to October. In other ports, strong currents or waves or swells from passing ships cause drifting ice floes to damage the hull severely.
A suitable port for wintering must, therefore, meet the following criteria:
- well protected from storms and waves
- no threshold of passing ships
- no flow in the area of the berths
- if possible a power supply even over the winter months
Keep the boat ready to drive in winter
If the boat is to remain operational for cruises or even for living onboard in winter, it is advisable to keep the temperatures aboard permanently above freezing point. This is the only way to prevent freezing water from bursting hoses and pipes. In particular, the machine is at risk here.
There are electric radiators that are suitable for continuous operation and equipped with a thermostat. Depending on the size of the boat, one or two of these devices may keep temperatures well above freezing at low levels. In particular, in the vicinity of the machine, such a device should be placed. The problem is, of course, that you depend on a safe shore power supply. Corresponding alarm systems can remedy this situation and warn against low temperatures by SMS, if you do not live nearby and can look at the boat regularly at temperatures below freezing.
Protect against freezing without shore power?
If there is no shore power supply or the supply is too uncertain, you must ensure that no water can freeze in pipes or hoses and these bursts. Tubes above the waterline can easily be removed. Below the waterline, you can fill the hoses from above with (environmentally friendly!) Antifreeze and then close the seacock’s (for the choice of antifreeze see also our article on winterizing diesel engines).
The on-board toilet (contrary to popular belief) tolerates no antifreeze and should always be dehydrated!
The machine should at least be drained at freezing temperatures or rinsed with antifreeze. If the dealer of the log is in the area of the ice cover, this should be replaced by a blind plug.
You can protect vent openings in the cockpit by pushing a rubber hose closed at both ends. The pressure of the expanding ice then compresses the tube instead of bursting the passage.
In any case, in the cold season with increasing storms can be expected. That’s why you should set all mooring doubles and protect them from shame. Teak and steel decks should be protected from the weather with a cloth, especially since freezing water in small cracks can lead to significant damage.
In the interior, it makes sense to set up a dehumidifier. This prevents mold growth due to the often high humidity, especially in autumn. Also in the spring, the moisture in the already warmer air condenses on the cold sidewalls in the bilge area.
Dangers of ice during the winter in the water?
Many owners worry about damage to the hull due to ice formation. If the mooring is well protected, luckily the risk is quite low. But if you want to play it safe: You can achieve adequate protection against icing with relatively little effort.
There are three variants for this:
It binds a ring of foam boards (e.g., coated polystyrene) around the hull. On the one hand, the plates ensure that the water underneath can not release the temperature to the ambient air so quickly. If, on the other hand, ice still forms at long-lasting temperatures, the plates will deflect the pressure of the ice onto the hull. For environmental reasons, you should use high-quality material that can be used over several years and no microplastic enters the water!
One hangs, depending on the size of the boat, one or more submersible pumps under the hull. As a result, warmer water is continuously transported from the depths upwards, so that in our latitudes an ice formation around the shell is virtually excluded. The disadvantage is that one relies on a permanent power supply.
You install a “bubble system” around the boat. For a garden hose is provided at regular intervals with holes and weighted with weights. The tube can then be hung around the boat attached to the railing in the water. A (designed for continuous operation) air pump blows air into the hose so that around the boat is a circle of fine bubbles. Likewise, assuming constant power supply, freezing is effectively prevented.
Winterize the boat without out-of-crane
If you do not want to move the boat over the winter, it is a good idea to remove sensitive parts on deck (e.g., life raft, solar panels and wind generators). Even wooden elements such as gratings thank the owner if you are not exposed to the weather over the winter. You should also replace the running well with sailboats with pilot lines so that it does not age unnecessarily in the available time and is exposed to the sun.