Boat Maintenance

The Winter Coat

So, did we do all those pesky little jobs over the winter? Ha ha ha! No, of course not!!!! But the winter has flown by and now it is time to wash off the winter coat, and get ready for the season ahead.

Getting things ship shape means an awful lot of hard work. Usually we travel to the boat early on a Saturday morning, and spend all day getting it ready as we stay on it that night. It is a mad rush, and puts us under pressure.


A little luxury

But this year, we had the luxury of being able to stay in Killinure Chalets so we travelled down on Friday night, thinking (huge mistake, huge!) that we would make an early start on Saturday. The whole process was made easier certainly, but it is still a lot of hard work and we were glad to get home on Sunday.


Boat Buddy

We also decided to get really organised this year (doesn’t happen often ;)), and got Chris from Boat Buddy to sort us out with some boaty goodies to make the job easier. Once the winter coat is washed off, and the canopy is removed and cleaned, the windows and side decks are cleaned. The hull gets a pressure wash too, and any spiders are encouraged to live elsewhere. To be fair, there were very few creepy crawlies on the outside of the boat this year.

When the superstructure was dry, we got to work applying the wash/wax and polishing it off by hand. It nearly killed me. But the final effect is the difference between clean but dull-looking fibreglass, and fibreglass that shines and looks like new.

I have some before and after pictures. You can see Alexandra in her green and gross winter coat, looking very unloved. The Boat Buddy cleaner removed the green gunk. And then the polish made her gleam in the sunshine.

Even though the polish is a pain to apply (because it is slow and I have absolutely no patience), I know it is worth it. Every time Alexandra gets a wash from now on, the dirt will slide off easily. The polish also protects the fibreglass from the elements.

Then we re-sealed some of the windows where the old sealant is either not doing its job or has come lose during the winter. It is a messy job.


Winter coat off, what’s next?

Then there is the engine. I think that this is one of the simpler jobs, without the energy-sapping repetition of polishing. Or maybe, I think it is simple because I don’t actually do it myself ;);););)



The water system is next. This takes a while to fill and bleed. Also, we add 4 Milton tablets to the tank. These are to ensure that the water is safe to use for washing your teeth. Although it won’t do any harm, it tastes disgusting so it is not used for drinking. Actually on that, the quality of the water along the Shannon varies considerably from near-perfect in Dromod to revolting on the opposite bank in Roscommon, and with every level of drinkability, smell, and colour in between. A good test before you fill your water tank is to pour some of the tap water into a white cup. Look at the colour, and look for bits floating around in it, then smell it. And then you will probably end up doing what I do – buying large 5 litre bottles of still water to use for drinking and making tea. I use bottled water for the kettle – a smell of chlorine from the Milton tablets, and the dodgy quality of the tap water along the Shannon rule out using our tank water for tea and coffee. So the tank water is used only for washing and for teeth.


Bottled water

There has been some discussion in recent years regarding the use of bottled water – the plastic bottles are not eco-friendly, and once open, these bottles aren’t suitable for storing the water for more than a few days, and it seems that dangerous chemicals can leech from the plastic into the water. But my alternative is to use water from my own tank which smells of chlorine, or water from the taps which is inconsistent and sometimes awful. I have poured tap water into a cup in Roscommon and I wouldn’t use it for washing clothes, never mind drink it. Brown and smelly – and I don’t care what anyone says, if the tap water smells like sewage, it is not drinkable. Tap water in Ireland also contains fluoride, a known neurotoxin, and it looks like that is now being linked to health issues. And yes, if I could get bottled water in glass or reusable bottles, I would. Perhaps you know where this is possible? If you have any better alternatives, please let me know. 


Work continues inside

Anyway, back to Alexandra. I started working inside, at the bow, and cleaned the berths, headlining and walls. I also cleaned the inside of the windows, and found 2 big spiders in the curtains, as well as a few small ones – I call them money spiders. So, was the tip I gave you at the end of last season about using cloves a success? Absolutely. It isn’t perfect, but these were the only spiders I found all weekend. Without the cloves, there would have been spiders everywhere, ruining my curtains, and making a confusion of webs in every nook and cranny, from bow to stern, inside and out, and generally scaring the life out of me.

I had to take down the curtains in the forward cabin. I left them in place over the winter. They got dusty, and there is some slight mould on one of them. These curtains have been washed many times and I know that a 40 degree wash, followed by a quick iron will do them no harm at all. Even though we have a dehumidifier switched on during the winter, it is in the main saloon. I think its effect just doesn’t reach the forward cabin like it should, so the air doesn’t circulate properly. We stash the mattresses in the main saloon during the winter, so they were fine.

 I cleaned the centre cabin next, but I was starting to run out of energy, and home beckoned. I got a pic of the sun just as it set behind the boats.


So what is left?

We still have a few things to do. But is there ever such a thing as a completed To Do list where boats are concerned? Our list still includes resealing more windows, the shower head needs to be replaced, and there is a seal on the loo to be done, and I didn’t get around to cleaning the ropes or fenders…… but nothing major and nothing that will stop us from moving next time we are down. 

I don’t care that we didn’t actually move the boat or get all the work finished. I know that with very little extra effort, Alexandra will be ready to go next weekend. And go we will. No point having a boat that doesn’t move!

I look forward to catching up with everyone over the next few weeks. Here’s to a great season, a safe one, and maybe even a little decent weather!


Some links…

Boat Buddy – not just any old cleaner.

Killinure Chalets

Lakeside Marina Chandlery

Clinton Marine


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