Macgregor 25 Winter Storage |
In the fall of each season we prepare our Mac for storage. Most of the preparation involves emptying all contents that degrade during the winter months.
Knowing that small animals need to make their winter homes in some protected location we make sure we remove all vestiges of food from the prior busy season of sailing. We also remove all batteries, liquids, toilet paper, paper towels and items of fabric. It is suprising what will attract a hungry mouse or chipmunk. We also tape shut all points of entry into the cabin that includes the ventilator shafts. We have discovered the price to pay for rodent damage (like destroying wiring) can be much higher than the inconvenience of removing mold the following spring.
It is also important to prep the outboard motor. This involves draining all gasoline from the carburetors prior to storage and covering the motor. Draining the gas is easily accomplished by detaching the gas feed line while the motor is running the last time you use the motor. The second item is a cover for the motor. I use an inverted trash bag placed over the motor and then tape the bottom closed. This will deter any wasps from building their nests inside a carburetor venturi or other problematic locations.
Since we store our boat in the yard we next need a method to repel the heavy accumulation of snow from forming on the top deck and in the cockpit area. I assemble an A-frame shaped structure out of plywood that is positioned under the large tarpaulin that covers the boat. I also relax the port and starboard lifelines to allow the snow to slide off the fore and aft decks more easily. The boat remains untouched during the winter season.
In the spring the process is reversed but a few new steps must be added. It basically starts with uncovering the boat and inspecting for possible winter damage and dirt accumulation. At this point I also carefully inspect all surfaces of the exterior looking for evidence of cracks or degradation. Need I mention this inspection is especially important below the water line.
The tarpaulin cover for my Mac is not weather tight so the wind deposits significant amounts of dirt and loose deposits on the outer gelcoat surfaces. These are easily removed with a bath of fresh water with a brush with mild detergent.
Since the cabin has been closed tight it takes about an hour to wipe the interior surface with a mild bleach solution and water. About 10% bleach concentration is enough to clean and freshen the interior. It is critical to wear gloves during this process. During this cleaning process I usually notice memorabilia and reminders from the past sailing season. I also can see unfinished tasks that need attention. Luckily on a Mac there is only a small amount of wood trim. About every second or third year the trim around the hatchway may need refinishing or resealing.
The battery is next to be installed. The battery has been kept inside my basement during the off season where I've occasionally charged it and kept it dry and free of any corrosion. Once the battery is installed power can be applied to all the circuits to check for proper operation.
Next comes the outboard motor. My motor is an electric start, 9.9hp four stroke with remote controls from the cockpit. Prior to starting the motor I change the oil, clean the oil filter, check the plugs and lubricate all scheduled points. Next hook up the gas line from the tank and attach the fresh water cooling to the skeg intake ports. This is critical because the water acts not only as a coolant for the motor but as a lubricant for the water impeller. All it takes is a few seconds to destroy the impeller if water is not present when the motor is running.
A prior owner of my Mac installed an Edson pedestal wheel. I usually wiggle my way inside the transom of the boat to inspect all points of connection for the steering and lubricate the push-pull mechanism.
Next comes all the sail inventory and rigging. I keep the sails inside my house where they've been stored clean and dry. I have never experienced any problems provided they were put away clean, dry and folded properly. The lines have also been stored dry and only need to be inspected and remounted.
I have also learned to step the mast as part of the spring process. This may sound excessive but several years ago I discovered a chipmunk had been living in my mast (which is stored horizontally on top during the off season). He also had accumulated about a half-bushel of acorns and the shells and assorted debris were still in the mast. When I tried to step the mast at the first rendezvous of the season all the contents were dumped out onto my boat. What a surprise and what a mess on top of my spanking clean Mac on launch day.
Last but not least is the trailer. I check the tire pressure for 50 lbs and inspect them for signs of cracking or aging. I also pack the wheel bearings (I use Bearing Buddies) and check for proper operation of the lights. I also added surge brakes to the trailer. This means I change the brake fluid and test the brakes for proper operation.
This sounds like a lot of work but it can usually be completed in about a weekend. Compared to friends that have larger, more elaborate sailboats this can be classified as virtually maintenance free sailing.