Winter may mean we wind back the amount of time we go cruising with family and friends, but it’s also a very important time to schedule all the maintenance and servicing that will ensure you are ready to enjoy your time afloat as soon as the weather warms up.
In fact, this is the ideal time to jump on the to-do list and book your boat in for the servicing, slip, antifouling and more.
Michael Swain from Riviera Aftermarket says that, while it may seem strange, ‘time off’ during winter can be particularly taxing for your yacht.
“In winter at our aftermarket facility on the Gold Coast, we cater for two very different types of luxury Riviera motor yacht owners,” he says.
“One group comprises those owners bringing their yachts north for the warmer Queensland weather … owners who are able to use their yachts regularly and who ensure they stop at Aftermarket as part of their travel planning, whether that be for antifouling, detailing, custom modifications or even a full refit.
“The other group may not be logging the same sea miles, but their luxury yachts also need timely love and attention because long periods of inactivity actually accelerates wear and tear and can contribute to breakdowns the following season.”
Dangers of deferred maintenance
Michael says that ‘deferred maintenance’ can come back to haunt boat owners come spring, so it is important to ensure your luxury Riviera or Belize is ship-shape and you are ready to enjoy the ultimate boating experience next season.
“Left unchecked, corrosion in particular can spread, moisture can intrude and freeze, lubrication can congeal and neglect can take root over the long, cold months,” he says.
With this in mind, Michael offers the following Top Tips for winter.
Riviera’s Top 10 tips for winter
- Clean machine: A clean yacht will weather the time off better and will reduce the work necessary when the time comes to take her out again. Wash the top-sides, bottom and deck (with a coat of wax on the topsides too) and clean all hardware and trim. Check for any blistering and treat and repair these problems. A yacht that cruises through winter clean will be much quicker to get ready in spring.
- Lubricate: Ensure the small but critical systems are lubricated regularly. Go around the yacht and lightly apply a moisture-displacing lubricant to the myriad moving metal parts onboard such as hinges, latches, push-pull switches, linkages, ratchet mounts and bow rollers, for example.
- Structure: Inspect your yacht’s hull for corrosion and cracks, and check that the bilge area is clean and dry. If there’s any sign the vessel’s hull requires maintenance, make sure you use a qualified repairer.
- Bilges and lockers: Check the bilges, removing any standing water and clean up any dirt or oil. Do the same with any lockers, drawers, live wells, fish holds or storage areas. Clean these spaces thoroughly, then place commercial moisture absorbers to eliminate mould and mildew during the off-season. Remove all cushions, clean them well (especially underneath where mildew tends to form) and prop them up on edge to allow air to circulate.
- Engines: If your engines are due for a service, book your boat in for a service NOW rather than wait until the last minute. Also thoroughly flush the cooling systems with fresh water to remove salt, dirt and corrosion.
- Prepare the fuel system: Top up your fuel tank(s) to avoid build-up of condensation over months of storage. Change the fuel filters at the end of every season. Add a marine fuel stabiliser to the fuel tank as per instructions to keep the fuel and entire fuel system clean during storage. After adding stabiliser to the tank, run the engines for a few minutes to ensure it circulates through the system.
- Oil: Every end-of-season checklist should include a healthy dose of lubrication. Change the engine oil and oil filters after the engines are slightly warmed up to help flush out sediment and impurities with the discarded oil. Refill the engines with the appropriate oil and be on the lookout for water intrusion — which usually causes gear oil to look ‘milky’ and discolored — as you drain the gear case. If moisture is present, this could indicate leaking seals that need to be inspected and repaired.
- Perform a Visual: The best time to catch small problems is before they become major ones. Get up close and personal, and use your eyes to visually go over items that can lead to trouble. For example, inspect for signs of worn cables, broken cable insulation, visible corrosion or rough operation, as well as signs of leakage around seals and fittings. Visually check fuses and wiring connections, looking for signs of corrosion, loose connections or broken insulation. Inspect fuel lines and cooling hoses for signs of exterior cracking, bulging or leakage, especially around bends, hose barbs and connections. Take particular care to test all hose clamps for tightness and signs of corrosion. Check sacrificial zinc anodes and replace those that are more than 50 per cent dissolved.
- Batteries and electrics: Batteries that are inactive over a long period of time can cause issues when you recommence for the summer. Keep your batteries charged and check all lights, radios and navigation equipment.
- Safety gear: Check all of your safety equipment, including lifejackets, fire extinguishers, EPIRBs and flares. Check the expiry dates and if anything needs replacement or upgrading, now is the time to do it. Items such as flares have a limited lifespan. If you don’t want to buy them now, remind yourself to purchase new ones before the start of the season.
* From a simple antifoul and detail right up to a full refit, Riviera Aftermarket has the service facilities, skills and knowledge to assist you in every aspect of boat maintenance. Facilities include a 75-tonne travel lift, six-bay undercover facility; two-bay enclosed antifoul and spray facility; five-bay hardstand and 14 marina work berths.