A question often asked is, what’s a good way to store my boat for a few days or for over an entire winter season? Always, it depends on whether it’s to be outside in freezing conditions, in storms, or in milder temperatures. Everyone knows that ice expands when it freezes. Having water trapped inside any boat and then having it freeze can easily cause damage, as in cracking. The Whitehall Spirit® Classic boat models built in fiberglass and teak woodwork have their own special needs for keeping them at their best during storage. See our next eNews for more on this.
The Whitehall Spirit®️ Solo 14®️ and Tango 17®️ boat models are built from space-age copolymer plastic. These boats are really quite amazing as there is little to no maintenance required other than keeping them clean by washing them down or wiping them down with a wet cloth. They handle direct UV very well due to the special coatings on the exposed surfaces. But the best way to keep these boats looking good with minimal cleaning is by keeping them covered using Sunbrella Boat Covers and Lexan Cover Battens. Alternatively, keep them out of the weather in a garage or a boat shed.
Freezing temperatures make all plastics more brittle and also cause very slight shrinking. Combine this with trapped water that expands when it freezes and you can see how important it is to avoid this situation. Copolymer plastic boats are tough and can even be struck with a hammer with no damage. However, never allow any hard impacts when it’s a few degrees below freezing. Make sure your boat cover has not allowed water to get into the boat by checking frequently if freezing conditions are expected.
There are a few Solo 14®️s and Tango 17®️s based in the high Arctic. Handled correctly, when stored over the winter, they have experienced no problems at all.
When storing the boat outside, storms are always a possibility and making sure that the boat cover is tightly secured and will not get loose is paramount to keep water from sitting in the hull and wind from damaging the cover. If high winds are possible, make sure the boat is well secured by locking it to an immovable object. You can use a Python locking cable for this. If stored on a dock use two 2” x 10’ Qwik-lock tie downs to hook into pad eyes that are screwed into the dock surface. If stored in the yard on a road trailer the boat must first be strapped onto the undercarriage, like it would be for the highway, with the battens and boat cover put on after strapping the boat to the trailer.
Here in Victoria, BC, Canada the Solo 14®️s and Tango 17®️s in the Whitehall Spirit®️ Rowing Club were built in 2008 and are still shiny and looking good. They sit outside on the dock in bunks but always have the covers on when they are not being rowed by club members. It snows occasionally in Victoria and it gets down to 20F or -7C a few times each winter. The biggest problem at the club is the local otter families using the covers for trampolines and occasionally collapsing them. This means that rain collects in the cover and requires bailing out. So, when storing a covered boat outside, on a dock, or on a trailer, be sure to inspect it every few days. Snow will need to be swept off before it gets too deep or if the local otters have visited and collapsed the covers.
A few owners hoist their boats up to the rafters in their garages or boat sheds using pulleys and simple winches. Others keep them in temperature controlled rental storage units over the winter, often cheaper than marina fees. Keeping a boat floating in the water is not recommended for obvious reasons especially in salt water where growth such as barnacles occur. However, even fresh water has algae that can cause hull discoloration over time.It’s much better to simply use the dock and a dock bunk or a jet ski dock to keep the covered boat out of the water, floating above the water ready to use, with a nice clean bottom that makes rowing such a pleasure.