How to Prep Your Yacht for Winter

Neglected yachts quickly deteriorate, causing a variety of issues when you take them out of storage to go sailing again. If you live somewhere with mild winters (like California!) you can easily take your yacht out on regular winter excursions, but if time and weather aren’t in your favor, it’s likely that your yacht is going to go into hibernation until spring. Fortunately, there are things that you can do to protect yourself and your yacht from winterization damage. Whether you’re taking your boat out of the water or leaving it in over the winter, a little preparation goes a long way. 

Mast & Standing Rigging

If you’re confident with heights, you can check your mast yourself, otherwise, a professional eye can spot issues. Remove masthead instruments and check terminal fittings for corrosion and damage, wire rigging for loose strands and signs of fatigue, and halyard sheaves for any damage.

If you have a furling headsail then clean out the swivel bearings with hot soapy water. Protect your head foil with a luff protector to stop it from rattling around in the breeze. The same goes for furling mainsails foils.

Ropes & Running Rigging

Leaving ropes lying on wet decks will turn them green, which is very difficult to get rid of. Mouse them out of your mast using a strong mousing line. Mark the halyards so you know where to refit them. 

At the very least, lift all your halyards off the deck by pulling them out of the jammers and stow them at the mast in neat coils to air out on sunny days.

On Deck & Serviceable Items

Empty your cockpit lockers of anything that can deteriorate in the damp. Send away any items that require servicing such as life jackets, dan buoys, life rafts, rescue modules.

Sails and covers can quickly turn green if left outside in the damp. Take them off on a dry day leaving them to air in the breeze for a few hours and stow them below. Never store sails or covers away wet! If budget allows, have sailmaker check them and have them professionally laundered. 

Check your batteries using a load test meter, grease the terminals and check that they are left on trickle charge. Remove batteries from certain items such as MOB lights. Check and replace expired items, such as flares, lifejacket lights, sealed MOB Lights & First Aid Kits.


After everything has been put away, give your decks a good wash down. Clean out any blocks and jammers and remove any salt and dirt deposits that have built up. If you have a jet wash, use this on nonslip GRP but keep in mind, powerful jet wash can cause untold damage to seals and trim around the boat. 

Clean the interior of your boat. Remove cushions and bunk boards. Use an anti-mold cleaner to prevent mildew. Leave the fridge open to the air and remove perishable foods. 

Give the toilet compartment a good clean. If you have holding tanks, empty and flush with a suitable tank cleaner. Wash curtains and cushion covers. If possible, run a dehumidifier to prevent condensation buildup. Leave doors and cupboards open for air circulation.

Engine & Water 

First, whether kept in or out of the water your boat should certainly be protected with yacht insurance. Service your engine with fresh oil. Top up your diesel tanks to prevent condensation. Empty water tanks and drain the freshwater system. Disconnect the 240v supply to the heating element to prevent it from burning out. Run a non-toxic antifreeze solution through the freshwater system. Leave your taps open and remove your transom shower tap head.

Even if you decide not to take your yacht out this winter, it’s still important to retain a Yacht Insurance policy to protect your investment from theft or other potential damage.

About Mariners Insurance

Mariners General Insurance Group was founded in 1959 to protect boat owners and marine business clients. We are marine insurance experts and insure boats worldwide – in every ocean on the planet. Marine insurance is critical if you own a boat or nautical business. Trust the professionals with all of your Boat Insurance needs – trust Mariners Insurance. Call us at (800) 992-4443 any time you have questions or concerns about insurance for your vessel or marine business.