Securing your boat for winter
The arrival of winter marks the end of the sailing season. It's also a crucial time to prepare your boat for the rigours of the winter season. Storm Ciaran, which blew in at the beginning of November, did not spare Brest's marinas: damaged boats, damaged infrastructure, and so on. To avoid such damage in the future, let's take a look at the essential steps you need to take to secure your boat for winter, and the importance of remaining vigilant throughout the year.
Protecting your boat moored at the pontoon for the winter
Before leaving the pontoons, yachtsmen need to make sure their boat is safe, and this requires a little preparation.
Check the boat's mooring
The condition of your boat's moorings is essential if it is to get through the winter season without a hitch. So make sure the mooring lines are in good condition, with no signs of weakness or deterioration. Adjust them correctly to avoid excessive movement caused by strong winds. A solid mooring ensures your boat's stability all year round.
In winter, double your mooring lines. Strong winds can generate significant forces on the boat, and doubling the mooring lines reduces the risk of the boat coming loose from its mooring or sustaining damage. Moorings can also suffer damage over time due to exposure to the elements, wear and tear or unforeseen factors. Doubling up on mooring lines provides an extra layer of safety in the event of failure of an individual mooring line.
Check the fenders
To protect your boat's hull as effectively as possible, it's important to use sufficient fenders in good condition. Make sure they're properly moored so they don't fall overboard.
Put fenders between your boat and your neighbour's boat. This will protect your boat's hull better in gales and when manoeuvring in the harbour.
Fenders that are too damaged should be replaced.
Clear the sails
The best thing to do is to take the sails off the boat for the winter and store them in a dry place. This prevents them from unfurling and tearing in the wind. The other advantage is that this precaution will help to extend the life of your sails.
If you do leave the mainsail, make sure it's properly furled and protected.
Remove anything that catches the wind
Before winter sets in, or before you leave your boat for a long period, remove all small items of equipment from the cockpit: fishing rods, tenders, or any other accessory likely to cause damage by rubbing or catching the wind.
Don't forget to remove anything that is caught in the wind: biminis, awnings, deck tops, etc. A clear hull reduces the risk of unnecessary damage during the winter.
Securing your boat on land for the winter
Boats wintered on land must also be secured. The sails and anything that catches the wind must be removed.
During the Ciaran storm, several boats on the Moulin Blanc Marina fell over. Some of them were set on personal craddles. To ensure everyone's safety in the future, boats will only be set on the harbour craddles (except those with shaped craddles or Nautipark craddles).
Smaller boats are sometimes stored on their trailers. When this happens, it's essential to put on the brakes and add chocks to prevent the boat from shifting, as happened to two of them during the last storm.
Stay vigilant all year round
Vigilance throughout the year, and particularly during the winter season, is a crucial step in ensuring the safety of your boat and those around it.
Regular visits to your boat
Even during the winter, take the time to visit the boat regularly. Check that the mooring is still secure and that no problems have arisen. This will enable you to detect any signs of damage or anomalies quickly.
Report any anomalies to the harbour office
Sharing responsibility for the safety of all boats in the marina is essential. If you notice anything wrong with your boat or a neighbour's, report it immediately to the harbour office. Prompt action can prevent accidents and protect all harbour users.
Securing your boat for the winter, whether it's moored to the pontoon or stored ashore, is essential to prevent it being damaged. By remaining vigilant and fostering a culture of collective safety, every boater helps to keep the marina safe. Enjoy the winter and look forward to a new sailing season full of new discoveries!