What wonderful weather we’re having now! Just in time for us to leave the marina and return home. Bummer! But the sunny skies, calm winds, and dry weather have really helped as we reach the end of our list of fall projects to get Phoenix ready to sit over the winter months. We don’t even mind the cool nights and morning fog!
It’s a lot of work each year. Because we live out of the area, it’s important that we take care of everything before we lock up the boat and head home. We have boat neighbors and friends who watch our boat, and the crew at Anacortes Marina walks the docks every day to check the boats, so we know we’ll be notified if somebody sees something that doesn’t look right about the boat. Additionally, we hire Dana Bower of Dana’s Boat Detailing to wash our boat once a month when we’re gone, and Dana will let us know if she sees any problems or anything that may have come loose.
The weather at Anacortes Marina in the winter can be harsh. Strong storm winds blow out of the southeast and right into our boat slip, making it imperative to secure our boat. We make sure the boat is tied up properly and beef up our mooring lines, especially the lines that take the strain from the southeast wind. We moor in a single slip so have the added advantage of being able to tie up the boat on both sides. Nice to have that extra security!
Our canvas covers are susceptible to wind damage, being blown loose, or even blown away. So we take off things that could be damaged by wind or freezing temperatures, such as our barbecue and its cover, winch lines, and this year we decided to take off our inflatable dinghy too.
In past winters, we have had issues related to leaving the inflatable on deck. The tubes tend to lose air in the colder temperatures, which can cause the cover to loosen. This has resulted in the cover getting loose enough that rain can get inside and the dinghy has filled with rainwater. It just seems better to get the dinghy off the boat and out of the elements, so this winter our dinghy will live in our storeroom.
For additional winter protection, we also remove things that could be damaged by mildew or other consequences of the wet and cold conditions of winter. We take off the cushions from our fly bridge (they’re attached by snaps) and move them to our storeroom. We keep tools and spare parts in the lazarette while we are living aboard and cruising, and we move those to the storeroom too. This helps to prevent any rust or other weather damage.
We run all the systems, take care of any problems, and make sure all the thru-hulls are closed. We top up the water tank so that we know there is water onboard in case we come up in the winter and find the marina has turned off the water due to freezing temperatures. We check the electrolyte level in the batteries and add distilled water if necessary.
Oil changes for both engine and genset are on the list too. We learned from a former airline maintenance mechanic that it’s better to change oil at the end of the season so that the parts sit in clean oil while the engine is inactive over the winter. We also top off the fuel tanks to prevent water condensation in the fuel.
Since this is our last week in Anacortes for a while, we also made time to get together with boating friends who we won’t see until next boating season. We shared conversations on the dock, lunches and dinners, and also went to a play at the Anacortes Community Theatre—“Little Shop of Horrors.” What a great production!
As the boating season winds down and it’s time for us to leave the boat, we feel good that we have done as much as possible to keep the boat secure in our absence. Jim or both of us try to make trips to Anacortes once or twice during the winter to run the boat’s systems and check everything. But every time we leave the boat, we pay attention to getting the boat as secure as possible before we leave.