Saturday, 30 November 2013

Winter Hibernation

Last week we began preparing Spray for 4 months of winter out of the water.  This will be the first winter since arriving in Brittany that we haven’t sailed, but after overdoing it last winter (see list of winter sailing posts), we decided to give the old girl a rest.  (I will leave you, dear reader, to decide if the old girl is me or Spray...).

The first thing we did was to take one last day-cruise on the river up to La Roche Bernard.  The weather wasn’t too cooperative (another sign that it’s time to put up for the winter) but we did manage to get the genoa out for a bit.

La Belle Italienne makes her debut on Spray with gentle downwind sailing (e.g. drifting) on the river.

We’ve helped friends winterize their boats over the years but this was the first time winterizing our own boat, and like everything else you do for the first time on your own boat, there was a lot of head-scratching about whether we did everything “right” or not.  In the end, it was easier than we thought to take everything apart, and we now have 4 months to worry about whether or not we know how to put all the pieces back together again. 

Here’s what we did:

Filled up the gas tank and added an anti-bacterial product to avoid algal / bacterial growth.

Emptied the water tank.

Charged the batteries.

Blocked and covered the wind vane.

Off-loaded the outboard motor.  Will take to mechanic for winterizing / tune-up.

Oiled the toilet pump assembly.  We just dumped a quarter of a litre of sunflower oil down the toilet and pumped a few strokes every 5 minutes or so to coat the insides.  When the boat was pulled out of the water we emptied the remaining water from the hoses and toilet.

Shut off cooking gas; off-loaded gas containers.

Set out a small chemical dehumidifier (want 2 more of these…).

Removed the life raft and stored inside boat.


We bought our house because we fell in love with the basement ... lots of storage space !

Off-loaded all food items, foul weather gear, boots, life vests, and remaining bits of clothing still on board.

Off-loaded all books, documents, and electronic devices not fixed to the boat.

Off-loaded emergency offshore kit (flares, etc) and grab-bag.

Off-loaded all tools (amazing how they can rust just from being in contact with marine air.)

Off-loaded bedding cushions, turned saloon cushions on end for maximum air circulation.

Off-loaded the life lines, rinsed with fresh water, dried, stored.

Off-loaded the dodger and side panels. Washed, dried, stored.

...and we also love our huge clothes lines in the backyard...

Removed the genoa; will take to sail makers for tidying up (loose stitching on the foot near the clew).

Removed the lazybag and mainsail; will take to sail makers for tidying up (straps holding 2 of the battens were nearly severed.) 

Striptease:  removing the dodgers, lazybag, genoa, mainsail, and all loose tackle.

Lowered the boom onto the deck.

Removed the spectra boom vang.

Removed the main sail traveller tackle.

Covered winches.

A naked Spray.

Had the boat pulled out of the water and placed on a sturdy cradle in the boat yard for a long winter’s nap.

The haul out.


Settled on her cradle for winter.

Rinsed boat with fresh water, rinsed the anchor and chain well; placed anchor in chain locker.

Greased propeller. 

Greased valves (water intake, toilet, sinks…).

Isolated batteries (removed all connections).  We will keep an eye on the charge over the winter.  We can plug into shore power in the boatyard to recharge batteries on occasion if needed.

Opened all cabinets, refrigerator compartment, storage areas and lifted up all the floor boards.

Insides ready for winter.


Emptied all the hoses (sinks, toilets).

Contacted mechanic to winterize the motor.  We know how to do most of this ourselves (rinse the engine with fresh water, change the filters, change the pump turbine, change the oil, change the zincs) but it may be a good idea to have some anti-freeze put in for the winter (we’ve never done that), and since we’re trying to sell the boat, it would be good to have a professional touch to be certain that things are in order.

And last but not least, put out the FOR SALE sign on the balcony.

Sigh...

That last one hurt more than the others combined but we tell ourselves it’s for a good cause  (e.g., buying a bigger boat for longer cruising).  

Addendum: April 2014:   One thing we did NOT do that we SHOULD HAVE DONE was to take better care of the seacocks and through-hulls.  We had a last-minute surprise with a sticky seacock just before launch that we should have taken care of from the beginning.  

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