Med Winter Maintenance

5 December 2011 By Pascal Le Breton

Whether you’re a mountain yachtie with two snowboards in the lazarette, one of the more common beach varieties who couldn’t quite chase that endless summer, or an experienced old-bull who needs a break from the global yacht circuit and a chance at a normal life, when wintering in the Med, you need to know how to adapt to your new winter habitat. A good place to start is by keeping your decks as simple and clutter-free as possible by removing everything that has no use for the duration of winter. It’s a good idea to rent a few storage containers for the season and cram them with deck furniture, gym equipment, cushions, covers, toys, and anything else that an idle boat has no need for. This not only protects and preserves them from the harsh winter ahead, but also makes your job on deck that much more uncomplicated and trouble free.

With your decks clear, many exterior surfaces can and should be well insulated and protected, as would be done for a crossing, during your boat’s idle period to minimize the upkeep required by you and leave time for the more important jobs, like preparing for the evening barbeque, or tuning and waxing your snowboard. There is no need constantly polish stainless when a good coat of insulator wax or Starbrite Marine Polish keeps the rust off for you. Treating windows and covering varnish work also will save you time and effort in the long run, but don’t cover everything and pass up the opportunity to fine-tune your varnishing skills and perfect your finishes.

During those very cold winter months when snow and ice become as common in Europe as the Caribbean downpours across the pond, its nice to know that “aside from a few possible small engineering troubles, the yacht shouldn’t require any special maintenance,” says one captain with extensive cruising experience in Greenland and the Arctic Ocean. One of the very few issues from a deck department perspective is your crewmates slipping and injuring themselves on an icy teak deck while leaving from or returning to the boat. However, it’s a simple problem to solve by salting the decks or placing down some non-slip matting from the passerelle to the crew entrance.

Once you’ve settled into your winter routine, you’re going to want to make the most of your land-based season. Look into pooling your funds together with the rest of your crew and renting a large van (with enough room for all of you, as well as all your ski’s and snowboards) for the rest of the season. To make the most of your time on the snow, avoid the lift queues and busty pistes by working on weekends and taking two days off during the working week to hit the mountains — if your seniors permit it. Standardizing this new mid-week weekend among the yacht, quay, marina or even entire coastline can make for some amazing times with your mates on the slopes of the Southern Alps.

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