I have more classic wooden boats than I should….can’t help it…..just addicted. Unfortunately this means that until I win the pools and buy some big storage, I will have more boats than storage and therefore some of them are going to have to spend the winter outside.
This is not a great idea….believe me, it is much better that you keep a boat inside than out. I know this from years of experience ;-( …but if you do have to keep your boat outside, there are some things you can do to help.
So if you must do it…..Get a new, thick and high quality tarpaulin (Bradshaws are best quality & value) and always take down the mast but block up boom to provide some run off. Make sure boat is entireley dry and then lay tarpaulin over boat, before tightly pulling normal cover over top of tarp. The cover will protect the tarp…..the tarp will keep out the water. It must have run-off. It must be tight. Any sharp points under tarp will rub a hole, so make sure there aren’t any. Make sure the tarp covering the bow is pulled tight down around the bow, but let the stern tarp just reach the transom, providing a gap for ventilation.
Even after all this, there is still a fair chance that water will get in the boat, so you must make sure the boat is at an angle so that any water that gets inside is able to run out, without collecting inside. This will mean either leaving the boat bow up so it can drain out the transom drain holes, or carefully leaving the boat at just the correct angle for any water to drain out through the bailers. Either way, you need to leave all bailers open to allow for the maximum of air through. Sometimes you will find that whatever angle the boat is left at there is still a little area close to the drain hole which will not easily drain, so here is a little trick….. find some absorbent old rope, cut some short lengths and poke these through the lowest drain point and then put one end in the water (or where it collects) and the other as low as you can get it. The idea is…..and it does kinda work, is that the rope will pull up water by osmosis and then pull it out and down out of the boat.
So what happens if it gets in….and doesn’t get out…..well if it settles on your varnish and there are ANY cracks, (e.g. around screw heads, chainplates etc). it WILL get under the varnish…..the wood WILL go black….eventually, the varnish WILL fall off.
This sounds bad…..but don’t panic…..it’s not the end of the world, a large amount of wetness will dry out….well it will until it freezes, but then you have a problem, it will ruin the wood and destroy the varnish.
If the boat is well coccooned, it should stay pretty dry, but, you must open the cover regularly, and let the boat have a good airing, you must watch out for any water getting under varnish, or any water collecting in boat, or worse still getting into or under any wood.
So should you do it……well as I said you shouldn’t, and I presume if you had any choice you wouldn’t, but sometimes your eyes are bigger than your stomach and you have just bought more boats than you could ever store inside…..then something will just have to stay inside. So will the boat survice…..well if the wood is new, the varnish is really good and there are absolutely NO cracks anywhere……If you make a good cover and hold the cover and the boat down really well. If you regularly open it up and dry it out…..then you should be OK.
My fave Firefly has been outside for all the 5 years that I have had it and its beut and its going to have to spend the next winter outside too…..but then on the other hand I have had to redeck it in that time…..and if I could keep it indoors…..I would!