Advice for winter boaters
Sailing during the colder months isn’t for everyone, but for those that do brave the weather, the rewards are plenty, not least of which is a lot more room out on the water. The joy of a cool, crisp morning is hard to beat even as you remember the highs of cruising around during the hot summer we’ve just enjoyed.
But in order to make winter boating a truly pleasurable experience, there are some adaptations to be made to keep your boat running at peak capacity, and yourself safe.
1. Stay warm. A well-insulated jacket is a must, as are gloves or battery-operated pocket warmers. Buy a marine heater that will not only keep the crew comfortable but also prevent mould and mildew caused by damp clothes and fittings. Fill up flasks full of revitalising soup to take with you when you set off, and always pack a set of spare clothes to change into if needs be.
2. Remember that cold weather is a major cause of flat batteries, so invest in a trickle-charge device to keep it ticking over, but at minimal cost. Worth it in spades because a dead battery can ruin your weekend boating plans.
3. They may not be the most stylish of eyewear, but ski goggles are a lot better for your visibility, and preventing pain, than standard sunglasses. Out at sea the cold wind bites and whips at your face, so a pair of goggles is definitely the way to go, and of course no-one can see you out there so it doesn’t matter.
4. Store your boat well. If you’re not going to be using it for a while then you want to ensure it is covered to prevent build-up of water or snow, and distribute moisture absorbers around the vessel.
5. Remember your regular sailing gear isn’t necessarily appropriate for winter. You’ll need a thick, warm hat to prevent heat loss, and thick rubber-soled boots for coping with a wet deck.
6. Double-check all communications equipment, flares and fire-extinguishers. If you have a major problem at sea you’re going to need help to respond immediately.