Planning to leave your boat during the Coronavirus crisis? Read this first!

Leaving your boat unattended without proper planning can have a bad effect on your boat and spoil your fun on the water.

During this COVID-19 crisis you are allowed to visit and use your boat. Practice the Safer At Home policies of Safe Distancing and washing your hands. First on the check list is to have hand sanitizer on board and use it. For many of us our boats are our 2nd home, but in the event you need to leave your boat for awhile, here is a list of things to consider:

There are 5 major categories:

1. Unexpected visitors

2. Weather

3. Moisture

4. Inspections and Maintenance

5. Unexpected events, like fire or sinking.

Unexpected Visitors which could be humans or critters

  • Visitor-proof your boat: Lock hatches, doors, companionways.
  • Consider installing web-controlled cameras.
  • Chat up your local live-aboard to see how there doing, and ask them to keep an eye out. Exchange contact information with others on your dock.
  • Bugs and other animals are attracted by the smell of food. Wipe up any spills; throw away food, empty trash cans.
  • Remove any food you aren’t going to eat in the near future. Consider keeping a basic supply of food should you need to use your boat as a back-up to home.
  • Pasta, rice, crackers will mildew and attract bugs. Keep these items in the fridge or store in airtight containers.
  • Cambro Translucent Square Food Storage Container with Cover are good to use for grouping and storing similar items.
  • Soda cans or other aluminum cans will develop pinholes and leak.
  • Canned food is generally good up to 100 degrees.
  • Put out ant and roach traps throughout the boat.
  • Stuff the end of the boom with small towels to discourage bees, wasps and birds from nesting in the folds.

Weather

In Southern California we don’t have to worry about hurricanes or snow storms. But, we could have the occasional high wind, rain, but most likely sunshine.

  • Make sure canvas is well-lashed down.
  • Remove wind-vulnerable items for the deck and store them below.
  • Cover surfaces with canvas.
  • Curtains inside can save cushions from fading.
  • Wax the outside of the boat to maintain the color, shine, and integrity of a gel coat finish.

Moisture

Yes, this is a problem even in warm Southern California.

  • Control mold or mildew by wiping down cabinets with a one of the many commercial products available or use a mixture of 50/50 vinegar and water.
  • Using a “Swifter” pad makes the job covers more area and makes the job faster.
  • Be careful to avoid wiping down metal handles and knobs. 
  • Track down leaks and fix them. Yes, easier said then done.
  • Put a few strategically placed fans to help with air circulation.
  • Leave on a low-powered portable heater or dehumidifier.
  • Open cabinet doors, remove unnecessary food, wipe down all surfaces, leave the doors open.
  • Wipe down the fridge. Leave only what is necessary for a quick or emergency trip to the boat.

Inspections and Maintenance

  • Check power connections are secured and there are no frayed wires.
  • Check dock lines for chafing. Double up if you are concerned.
  • Check scuppers to insure they not blocked.
  • Check hoses, through-hulls, the bilge, engine and any other potential problems.
  • Thru-hulls: https://www.sailmagazine.com/diy/know-how-thru-hulls-and-seacocks
  • Bilge Pumps: https://www.westmarine.com/WestAdvisor/Selecting-a-Bilge-Pump
  • Check battery fluid levels and add distilled water if needed
  • Fuel tanks should be full to prevent condensation from forming
  • Add an additive/stabilizer to reduce oxidation which can create deposits which could damage fuel injectors, fuel lines, and other system components.
  • Diesel fuel is very different from gasoline For best performance do not use fuel additives that claim to work in both gas and diesel. 
  • Turn off toilets and similar items. Leave toilet lids up.
  • Note how the boat is floating in the water.
  • Take pictures of the inside and outside of the boat in case something unforeseen happens and you need proof for an insurance claim. One picture is worth thousands of words.. and even more thousands of dollars!!
  • You might consider putting your boat on a lift if it is appropriate size.
  • Continue with cleaning the bottom of the boat.

Unexpected Events

Do your best and let the rest go! You can’t be perfect, no matter how hard you try, so give yourself credit for making an effort and try to stop stressing about every possible problem and outcome.

Marine Patrol and Marina staff will continue to maintain the security of our marinas. If you are on your boat they request boatowners continue to be vigilant and report any issues of concern to the marina offices: 562.570.3215 (Alamitos Bay Marina) or 562.570.4950 (Shoreline Marina). In the event of an emergency contact the Police Department utilizing 911.

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