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After winter storage it is now time to let our cuddle-eager “baby” have a bath.

Let’s see how to prepare it for the launch.

As described in the article about winter storage, some steps are similar and have to be repeated before boat launching, while others have to be carried out in reverse sequence. Among these there are of course water supply and power connections as we need to have them ready for use.

If we have covered our boat with an awning for winter storage, we now have to think what to do.

Surely it is very dirty due to the dust and rain accumulated during the months. It will be necessary to wash it, better when it is stretched taut as this facilitates drying.

This will require spending some hours below deck, which can be an agreeable experience if it isn’t hot, yet, otherwise it is really quite unpleasant. So, as an alternative, we can remove the cover and wash the bow deck using a hose or the pressure washer. We will then stretch the awning on the life lines to clean it.

Not only the awning needs to be washed, but the whole boat. You decide weather more or less thorough depending on the situation.

The power is ON, so let’s switch the boards OFF and switch ON the battery charger at 220 V for some days: it will be ok for the batteries giving them regular cycles controlled by advanced electronics, now present in the most modern models.

Inside the boat the deck floors have been left open. Now close them, maybe after wiping them with a damp cloth to remove the dust accumulated in the bilge. Then open all the portlights to let the boat better breathe.

Now our beloved is starting to get a decent look….

And now it’s the turn of the mattresses. Pull them out and air them in the fresh air. Let’s make the most of this oportunity and wash also the mattress ticking, one after the other.

Then remove the cooking foil we had used to duly protect the devices during winter storage. Mount the steering wheel (in case it had been removed) and reset the electronics, especially that of the cockpit i.e the autopilot motor (in case of belt system or trimmer)

Remove the plug from any thru hulls and small holes that had been previously closed. Clean the fridge, which had been left open during winter storage.

Let’s check the anchor line: chain + anchor. Restore connections and haul all the equipment aboard by means of the winch, also to check its proper working.

Replace the messenger lines with the halyards using the same method of winter storage: needle, thread and insulating tape with a little lubricant. Then clean the solar panels and reset the wind power system.

Now it’s antifouling paint time!

Clean the hull with hose and armed brush with rigid sponge, scotch-brite-type. This is useful to remove barnacles and other dirt, if any. As the large cleaning operations have been carried out for winter storage, what is required now is just a touch-up cleaning. So, scraper in hand, let’s check the whole hull searching for areas out of the reach of the brush and, if necessary, remedy, but always gently and carefully.

Let it dry and then stick blue adhesive paper tape specific for marine use. Stick it at the waterline, the thru hulls and the log small propeller.

Tape also the prop-shaft as well as the transducers. Of course we have removed and properly cleaned the propeller in winter. If not, this too has to be protected.

Choose the antifouling that best suits your hull and apply it following the product directions. (to choose the best antifouling paint for your boat,
read this article). The ideal is to apply 2 coats of paints and then a third one at the waterline, then 50/70 cm down.

Pay attention, if possible, and apply the antifouling paint some days before the boat launch (1-2 days before would be perfect): the paint will better fulfil its purpose once it is in water.

Let us turn now to the motor. Screw the diesel oil filters and back flush by means of a special lever on C pump. Loosen the dedicated bolt on the filter holder and wait until fluid diesel oil has replaced air bubbles. Do not forget to tighten everything. And let’s make the most of it by checking all tightenings: diesel oil and sea-water filters, impeller, etc.

Also all the seacock clamps have to be checked as they may require to be tightened or replaced if they seem to be in poor conditions. However, clamps have to be replaced every 5 years while, as for valves, it depends on the type in use, if made of metal or reinforced plastic (Randax-type).

It is worthwhile to take a look at the electric board and switch ON the power (12 V) in order to check all the utilities. Make sure the onboard lights i.e. navigation lights, mooring and motor lights are working properly.

Do not forget to check the expiry date of flares and distress rockets. If expired, the have to be replaced. The same for the gas tube in the kitchen: if to be replaced, do it and then light all the kitchen burners.

Also the date of the liferaft service has to be checked. If expired, let’s have it serviced.

Let’s test bilge pumps: both manual and electric ones.

As for the manual one check if the rubber of the bellow is in good conditions. Verify of course its general conditions.

As for the electric ones, check the impeller and replace the membrane in case it is friable and porous.

Let’s fill the diesel oil and the fresh water tanks. Test the fresh water pump and if necessary drain the air inside it by opening all the faucets one after the other.

If you have removed the WC pump, install it again. If this is not the case, wait until you are in open see and then perform the first test.

Install the bimini splash guard and set up the easy jack as well as the lazy jack circuit.

Sails have to wait until launch as boatyards/marinas do not allow to rig and hoist sails when the boat is not in water. However, to save time, cleats and furling headsail could be set out.

Let’s clean the tender, inflate rib tubes and prepare the lines required to the mooring: we are almost ready to get in the water!

Let’s clean the fenders and fit them. Give the correct tension to the backstay that had been duly dismantled for storage, as well as to shrouds, should these be loose, too. Disconnect the battery charger, connect the solar panels, disconnect 220 V and the water system.

We are now ready to launch!

The crane will lower the boat until it enters water. The first thing to check is the tightening of valves/seacocks after they have been duly closed. If there is no leakage, open the motor seacock and start the motor. Let the motor run for some minutes, then test the inverter (forward/backward, don’t worry lines will hold us still) then, when we are ready, let the mooring go and sail to the place we have chosen in the dockyard or to the anchor point “in that nice bay over there”.

Let’s reach the masthead to check the shrouds. Cable-end fittings, rivets and inox cables must be checked at least once a year.

Now we can rig sails, open bath and kitchen valves and test the WC.

For those who have a desalinator onboard, when both ready and willing to, perform the rinse cycle of the liquid for winter storage following the manufacturer’s instructions.

Now we can start to truly relax, ready to enjoy the new season.

Enjoy and fair wind to everybody!

Giampaolo Gentili

Giampaolo Gentili vive in barca e naviga principalmente in Egeo dal 2008.
Scrittore e fotografo, collabora con vari media e svolge corsi sul "cambio vita" e gestione della barca, da cui il sito sailyx.com.
E' autore del libro "Si può fare – Come vivere un vita da sogno con 500€ al mese" e di vari saggi e mini ebook inerenti la vela.
Giampaolo Gentili

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