Keep your boats shipshape until spring
12 November 2019

Keep your boats shipshape until spring

If your charity or youth group is lucky enough to own a boat or two, be it a pontoon of paddle boards,  a couple of canoes, or one well-loved canal boat, then you’ll know what a valuable asset they are, particularly during the summer months. Winter, however, is not the season for setting sail, and your boating equipment will need to be stored somewhere secure and away from the elements. 

Here are a few tips to keep your vessels safe and seaworthy until you need them next spring.

The small fry

Most insurance policies for “maritime” equipment, whether it is used on the open ocean or a landlocked lake, require all watercraft to be kept ashore when unattended unless they are particularly large. The best way to protect a boat out of water is to store it inside a dry and locked unit, but realistically this might only work for small crafts, such as paddle boards, kayaks, canoes and dinghies. These can be simply stashed away in an attic, store cupboard, garage or a rented storage unit. Make sure to pack everything away completely dry at the end of summer to avoid rot that could damage your gear, and keep an eye on their condition throughout the winter.

More is moor

Bigger sailing boats, motorboats and canal boats will need a more substantial mooring space. If available, a dry dock is a good option for any large crafts that must be kept ashore. However, vessels longer than five metres from bow to stern can be kept on a secure, inland, non-tidal mooring or a registered marina berth. Unfortunately, these will be much more exposed to the elements and, potentially, vandalism or theft. Most insurance policies will not cover theft from inside or outside the craft unless there has been a clear use of force and violence, so you may need some extra security measures. For example, outboard motors must be locked on by appropriate anti-theft devices that prevent the retaining bolts and clamps from being undone. 

Marina moorings often come with the added benefit of shoreline electricity, which you could use to power a heater inside your boat (if it is safe to do so) and reduce the risks of any freeze damage. Set the thermostat to about 7°Celsius and load the electricity meter with plenty of credit!

Locking up on the canal

Hauling a narrowboat onto dry land is not always an option, and since canals are prone to freezing over in the depths of winter you will need to prepare your craft for severe cold snaps. You must drain the water system, including the water pump, and leave all taps open. Consider investing in solar panels to keep the batteries charged up for your return, and for testing the bilge pump. You should also add antifreeze to the engine and the central heating system. For more information, the Canal and River Trust website has a full guide on winterising canal boats.

Our team of expert brokers are happy to talk through the insurance options for your boating equipment so you can be sure your winter storage meets all the policy conditions.