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Winter Work

Winter Work

Shorter, cooler days over the off-season make winter the ideal time to invest in maintenance and service of your boat. Of course, avid boaties will still use their boats throughout winter, but perhaps less frequently and for shorter jaunts than during the long, hot summer holidays.

Fortunately, on the Gold Coast, we don’t have to literally ‘winterise’ our vessels like in the northern hemisphere – which can consist of entirely draining your boat of water and replacing it with anti-freeze!

At The Boat Works, Coomera, the skilled trades onsite attend to the full spectrum of vessels, from tenders to commercial superyachts, and the various sail and power, mono and multihulls, and everything else in between.

Seatech Marine, the one-stop for engine, drive, genset and anti-fouling needs, handles a lot of boats at this time of year, preparing them for storage, or active use during winter, which ironically, can be more pleasant for boating as conditions are less windy.

“During the colder months, there’s less chance of the big southerlies and storms, which we are all familiar with in summer,” said John Miller, service manager at Seatech Marine. “The weather is actually better for boating, despite being less inviting for swimming or watersports.”

“It’s a good time of year to focus on the safety aspect of your boat,” continued John. “Because you’re not going out as frequently, your battery voltage needs to be looked at. Then there are the manual float switches, which can be affected by rainwater or saltwater. They need to be operational so there’s no risk of your boat sinking.”

John recommends regular checks of life jackets and rafts. “You can remove them from your boat if you’re not using it, and keep them in the shelter of your garage for the winter. As long as you remember to put them back in your boat next time you plan to go out.”

For the never-ending battle against moisture and mildew, John says placing a damp kit from the hardware or chandlery in the cabins will do the trick. “The moisture crystals absorb the damp and prevent the musty smell and mildew below decks.”

When it comes to your boat engine, running it once a month is a good way to keep components lubricated and operating as normal. “Better still, take your boat for a run on a Saturday afternoon while it’s still light, and throw in a line, and bring home dinner!”

Winter is a good time of year to do service work, lift your boat, and undertake anti-fouling, detailing and servicing if you’re not using it, so you’re prepared well in time for summer.

Many boats actually come into their element in the winter, chasing the sun north for a sojourn in the Whitsundays and Great Barrier Reef, with their exciting calendar of events, regattas and islands to explore. “In these cases, it’s even more imperative to get your work done thoroughly,” warned John. “There’s a lot you can do yourself, such as checking batteries and running your engine, but when it comes to the servicing side of things and maintenance, leave it to the trained professionals. We know what to look for and understand the entire boat and how it functions, as well as the different facets of what can fail. Plus, it can affect your warranties if you don’t follow the guidelines and use a certified repairer.”

Rod Twitchin, director at RTM, is an AMSA accredited marine surveyor, Master 5, engineer and qualified mechanic. Rod is the sole Marine Surveyor at The Boat Works. With more than 25 years in the industry, Rod has compiled a general maintenance checklist to make your vessel preparation more manageable ahead of peak boating season to ensure safety, security and fun for your family.

“The RTM Checklist is a comprehensive guide to aspects of your boat that need attention in the lead-up to spring and summer boating,” said Rod. “Maintenance is vital for your safety and looking after your investment. There would be nothing worse than quibbling over saving a couple of hundred dollars on service or a replacement part, when you’re out there and find yourself in trouble. Prevention is always better than a cure, and certainly less costly.”

Included on the RTM Checklist are several measures boat owners can take themselves, such as checking the dates of the most recent and next service for all machinery; ensuring all reservoirs are full to the correct level; checking water pumps, alternator belts and guards for wear, and ensure all belt guards are installed and tight; inspecting all machinery areas for any possible leaks and good condition of all associated parts; and inspecting all componentry and hull for any evidence of corrosion.

Michael Waugh, dealer principal at Boat Service Gold Coast, leads a team of marine mechanics who service, repair and repower engines, as certified specialists on Mercruiser stern drive engines and Mercury outboards. “We remind our existing customers of their annual services, and we can organise an anti-foul or polish, and any other maintenance they require at the same time.”

If over winter you intend to store or leave your boat moored and unused for a few weeks, Michael advises owners to undertake the pre-start check, as outlined in their owner’s manual, which includes lifting up the hatch, making sure the battery is charged, checking fluids, coolants, power steering trim, engine oil, gear oil, looking for any leaks or corrosion, and several other crucial points.

“But if they’re at all unsure, we can go and do the thorough checklist on their boat,” said Michael.

Also located within The Boat Works is a full range of upholstery, trimming and accessories specialists.

Michelangelo Melfi runs Melfi Designs, with 38 years’ experience in custom-designing and crafting furniture. In addition to complex custom work for films through Warner Bros, Melfi applies his skills to the marine segment, creating helm chairs, interiors, lounges, cushions, clears and carpets for all kinds of vessels. “If people have time off their boat over winter, their thoughts turn to maintenance in the spring, which can mean trying to book in your project at an incredibly hectic time,” said Michelangelo.

“We recommend people get in earlier and get the work done over winter. By the time October comes, it’s frantic all the way to Christmas. It’s better to book way in advance, which requires planning and speaking with the experts. Don’t rush it and get caught out. Speak to the experts and get a plan of your priorities in place.”

Stephen Kopp at Bayline Marine Covers is the expert on canopies, covers, clears and interior refurbishment, including soft coverings and furnishings. A new tenant at The Boat Works, Bayline Marine Covers handles interiors for Maritimo and has a workshop just around the corner.

“We find summer is extremely busy with refurbs and refits, getting ready for Christmas,” said Stephen. “Winter really is the best time to get your boats out of the water to take care of maintenance. Various things arise over summer that need replacing or repairing – the things that may come to light when you’re entertaining onboard, like biminis and clears.”

Echoing the advice of fellow marine specialists, Stephen recommends boat owners use the cooler months to prepare for summer. “Don’t wait until the rush hour; get in now. Start your plan and think about what might need doing, because the months fly by, and October will sneak up on you!”

Whether your boat goes into storage or in for a spell of maintenance, there is so much to enjoy about winter on the Gold Coast. Some suggestions for day trips and weekends on water include a run to Tangalooma on beautiful Moreton Island. Closer to home, Sanctuary Cove, with its thriving Marine Village restaurants, boutiques and assorted retailers, Marina Mirage, or Couran Cove on South Stradbroke Island, which offers a new set of berthing rates and marina memberships with benefits for boats and jet skis, making it well worth a day trip or overnight stay.

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By Shane Subichin



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