January and February have traditionally been months when boating goes on the back burner and yachts and motorboats are either ashore or laid up afloat: not exactly forgotten or ignored, but not attended to.

How things have changed over the years! Having just come back from Island Harbour on a sunny January morning, I have seen more activity both afloat and ashore than on some summer weekends. These days, with warm air heating, good sports clothing and the undeniable change in the climate (looking at the thermometer at 12°C), why not? 

There is always maintenance needed on the boat, and while the weather may not always be perfect, the times when the rain is pouring down can be a good time for inside work.

The engine is probably the most important piece of machinery on your boat, and the messiest, so it’s a good idea to start here and get it out of the way. If the oil was not changed at the end of the season, do it now and replace the oil filter. 

You should also fill the fuel tank to about 95 per cent, to reduce water vapour collecting in the tank. Water is the greatest enemy of diesel fuel injection components. Once water enters the fuel system it will rapidly wear and oxidise steel components, leading to rusting, corrosion, wear, and seizure. The space between the fuel and the water is also a breeding ground for the diesel bug, a bacterial formation that contaminates the fuel by producing waste, usually evident as black or dark lumps.

In my own boat I am fitting yet another filter between the tank and the first primary filter. This is a cheap £3.00 see-through filter, similar to the ones found on the warm-air heaters. The idea being that I can see if it starts to blacken up with the sludge or diesel bug before it gets to the engine. These are quick, simple and cheap to replace and could save the day. This diesel bug can drop to the bottom of the tank or may be suspended in the fuel. Either way it could clog up the filters and lead to expensive damage, but it can be treated and rectified by additives or filtration.

The cooling system should be flushed, and the antifreeze replaced. Check and replace the batteries as necessary and start the engine to test that it’s running smoothly, running it near to full operating temperature. Test out the bilge pump after ensuring there is no oil in the bilges. Check that the pump works, and the filters are free from blockages. Inspect terminal blocks and connections for corrosion.

We will eventually get back on the water and see that things have changed out there on the Solent we know and love. The chimney, Fawley or as many people have affectionately called it the ‘cigarette’ has gone. This landmark or blot on the landscape has to many always been there and now it is not. Many times I have rounded the Forts or the Needles to see the ‘cigarette’ looming out of the tip end of the New Forest and felt pleased to be back in the familiar Solent waters and nearly home. How will the Yachtmaster examiners cope without it to check their back bearings?

Activity at Waypoint Brokerage has not stopped, with boats of all sizes and shapes finding new owners.  Although we’re still adding to the boats on our listings, we could always do with more.

If you are looking to sell your motorboat or yacht, give Waypoint Yacht Brokers a call.

We’re always happy to chat about all things ‘boating’.