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PAM SAYS: Leaving Your Boat Unattended

Picture331Let’s talk for a minute about the possibility of leaving your boat for an extended period of time.  If you want to leave a boat in Europe for the winter and fly home to work or play, if you want to leave your boat in Australia and fly home for a wedding,  if you want to leave your boat in South Africa and sail with a friend for a couple of months, whatever the reason, it is nice to have a check list of what you should do to insure your boat is in great condition when you return from a long absence.

Several times over the past twenty years we have had the opportunity to fly home and work, for weddings, for health issues and had to leave KANDARIK, our 39 foot sloop, for an extended period of time.

Of course the first and most important issue is to find a safe place, that you feel totally comfortable with, to leave your precious boat while you are not there.  Once this is found, half the battle is over and you can feel confident your boat is in a good place without your watchful eyes on it.

A good thing to consider is how close to an airport you can leave your boat.  It certainly is easier for you, in the long run, to be near some kind of international airport for ease of leaving and coming back to your boat.

It goes without saying you should find a place that you feel is safe and has people who care working near and around your precious boat.

But, after this is taken care of, I have made up a list of the things we have to attend to before closing up the boat and leaving her for an extended period of time. I hope you can use this list to help you.   It certainly was useful to us each time we made ready to leave KANDARIK.

Here is the list, if you can add to it, please do and let me know.

  • Leave on all dorade vents with screens if possible
  • Turn off fuel system for your stove
  • Fill all diesel tanks to top
  • Empty water tanks, leave inspection ports open
  • Open all cabinets
  • Open all floorboards
  • Dog all hatches
  • Have mildew disks in all cabins
  • Cover ports and hatches with UV protective covers inside the boat
  • Cover all varnish on deck if possible
  • Take all halyards to top of mast, leave one for retrieval
  • Put fall of halyards in something to protect them from the sun, under dinghy if possible
  • Take off all possible masthead instruments
  • Clear deck of all that you can and stow below deck
  • Make sure everything stowed below is very dry with no salt on it
  • Take down all sails, flake, and stow below
  • Close all thru hulls
  • Turn off all electrical current if possible
  • Leave batteries fully charged if AGM’s or Gel Cells
  • Wet batteries will require a trickle charger like solar panels
  • Leave all cushions on an angle so air can circulate around them
  • Take off any food that will spoil, leave any dry food in Zip Lock bags
  • Make sure bilge is clean and sweet
  • Take off and stow all dodgers and bimini top
  • Tie anything off that may move in the wind
  • If possible run fresh water through the engine, mist engine air intakes before turning off for the last time with Fogging Spray
  • Cover winches with winch covers if possible
  • Cover hatches from outside if possible
  • Make sure boat is shored up so deck and cockpit scuppers drain properly
  • Clean out and leave open refrigerator
  • Lock rudder or tie off tiller
  • Take off any carpets from cabin sole
  • Leave a bunch of roach motels in various areas
  • Clean out head thoroughly flush with fresh water and head cleaner last flush
  • Leave holding tank clean and empty and sweet
  • Lash dinghy on deck
  • Leave key or combination with someone responsible with your phone number
  • Make sure there are NO deck leaks through mast, hatches, stantions, etc