Its always safer if you use a euphemism…
So now that I’ve got some childish jokes out of my system, lets start talking about the practicalities of Winter and other storage cover designs.
And also, taking our cue from the image about, lets launch straight into…
Plastic Wrap Systems.
I suppose they work well enough for plastic boats. essentially, they are just wrapping a boat in plastic, and forming a single solid membrane with application of heat with a heat gun. All safe and cushty for the winter, right? Right?
So here is what you really really ought to consider. Apart from having to make sure that your beautiful symphony of gleaming white fibreglass has had all the water tanks emptied, the valves sealed and no loose taps, dripping pipework, vents shut, etc., etc., and all the engineers are doing is already done, and there’s nothing to do but seal her up for the winter, waiting for the warm weather to arrive in April. Really? Optimistic and thus time for…
A cautionary tale.
Imagine being the owner of a classic wooden 1950s power boat. Imagine having spent the best part of £50k on an 18 month long restoration, which has seen a succession of bad and botched “upgrades”, some of which were just inept, and some – the electrical system – were potentially lethal, being rectified. Imagine the beauty of the final specialist gleaming varnished brightwork, the mirrored hull finish, the new upholstery, the internal fitments, the smell of the fresh new leather.
So, naturally, a few thousand quid to properly cover this in a breathable fitted cover to the waterline, to protect this investment was part of the budget, right? Right?
“Too expensive, I have to make savings”, or words to that effect. “I’ve picked up a leaflet about plastic wrapping, and I’ll do that instead – cheap AND effective!”
So this gleaming classic wooden powerboat was wrapped in plastic, down to the waterline, and sat resplendent for the winter on a quayside in a well-known Marina in a Devon river. No one told the owner, not least the Marina nor the chap doing the wrapping, that this wasn’t a good idea for wooden boats. No one told the engineers, who had yet to winterise the engines, that the boat was due to be wrapped. Imagine being the engineers, faced with a wrapped boat, cutting open the plastic to winterise the engine, and then walking away, leaving the boat open to the sky, and “not telling” either the Marina staff, nor the owner, that the wrapping was open.
So imagine being the owner, coming along in the spring to find…
- The boat with over 1m of water in the bilge.
- The new engines, submerged for 5 months.
- Wood starting to rot.
- Leather going mouldy.
- New berth cushions soaked and slimey.
- The grime, the mould, the damp everywhere.
- The brightwork peeling.
- The paint on the hull blistered from the heat gun.
Imagine having to spend another £50,000 or so, of having to re-do all the work, and having a long and tedious series of legal and insurance arguments with all the other parties and missing another season on the water. I’d imagine, quite soul-destroying.
And the solution was…
Get a proper cover. Its actually vital. You might say, “well the wrapping was a success, surely, if the chain of communication hadn’t broken down”. Not really. The chap applying the wrapping used a heat gun, which blistered the paint on the hull. At the very least, even if the engineers had serviced the engines before the wrapping, the hull would need a complete topside re-paint.
So, how would a fitted cover have helped?
A fitted cover would have done several things, that a wrap cannot do.
- Its reusable every year. You can expect a good 12-15 winter’s use, depending on materials, without serious maintenance or having to replace panels.
- You can guarantee decent ventilation to the interior of the boat, not only with natural ventilation but even more so with a small solar powered fan rigged up.
- Access. A cover with a weatherproof zipped access lets you (or our ‘eponymous engineers’) get into or out of the boat without destroying the weatherproof nature of the cover. And it lasts.
- Certainly far longer than a bunch of plastic tarps. Fitted covers are also very resistant to wind damage if properly designed and fitted. even in exposed locations a well fitted cover will survive storm conditions with no damage. This is excluding a badly shored-up boat falling over in its cradle. But, not my department.
- Modern materials, not just canvas anymore, allow for far lighter stronger covers.
- In the spring, it all goes back into the valise, ready for the following Autumn.
So ask yourself, if you actually care about your boat, what is NOT covering it adequately going to coat you?
My work here is done.