30 June 2021

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How To Prep Your Boat for Antigua’s Summer

Here’s our HOW TO “prep your boat for Antigua’s Summer” Guide.  In this Guide, we cover our Top Tips for storing your boat with us in the Summer months.  As we are now officially in hurricane season, and the Atlantic starts to wake up with depressions, storms and more, we hope this Guide will be a useful reminder to our clients; perhaps our first-time clients, who have left their boat with us.


the travelift and the mover



We highly recommend that you appoint a boat manager for the summer season.  A reliable, local representative dedicated to co-ordinate projects, make regular boat checks, address any issues and even re commission the boat ready for your arrival next season.


It is always best if you arrange a physical handover and go through the boat point by point, just before you leave as every boat will have its own idiosyncrasies.


Your boat manager will be especially useful if we are threatened by a storm and the boat needs additional “storm prepping”.


The Marina staff are 100% committed to carefully seating your boat in a concrete pit (deep draft boats only for summer season), a one-piece cradle or on welded stands and applying heavy duty cargo straps, in pairs, secured to inground anchors. A lateral weld is highly recommended through the summer season, and in most cases, this is insurance approved as the best option short of being in a one-piece cradle.


Regular stand and strap checks are made through the summer season. Also note that at Jolly Harbour Marina our staff will send you photographs of your boat once she is secured in place for the season giving you, and your insurance provider, peace of mind.




There is a lot you can do yourself to ready your boat for storage. Preparing your boat properly requires time and effort, but it will be worthwhile and there is plenty you can do before you haul.


A few examples include: filling diesel tanks to prevent any condensation in the tank and add biocide, fill the water tanks and add a hint of chlorine/bleach, flush the heads and holding tanks with fresh water and make sure the bilges are clean and dry. Check the battery levels and top up (if lead acid), clean the tops and grease the terminals, and then fully charge the batteries. A lot of cleaning should also be done at the dock (and you should be doing a lot!). It’s usually much more pleasant doing it afloat rather than in the yard.


The three most common things that cause issues with boats stored for any period in the tropics


  • Batteries
  • Mold and mildew
  • UV damage




Batteries are very expensive and they need looking after. There is nothing worse than splashing your boat and then finding the engine battery is dead and you’re stuck in the lifting well. So, assuming you have topped them up, cleaned them and they are fully charged, how do you make sure they will be in the same condition when you return?


Firstly, turn everything off. Make sure there is nothing to drain the batteries as even a small draw on a battery will result in completely drained batteries after a few weeks.


If you can connect to shore power this will be the best. This is just the same as having your boat plugged in at the dock and is the best way to ensure you will have fully charged batteries when you return.


Having your boat manager checking the boat every two weeks would be a smart move. If there is a power outage or charging failure, they will be able to take immediate action. With batteries the charger should “float” but it’s worth checking a couple of times a month, especially with lead acid batteries, as you don’t want to overcharge and have them dry out.


You may only need to connect power for a few hours, every couple of weeks to keep the batteries full; but obviously this needs regular management.


If you have a wind generator this will also keep the batteries charged but if there is a storm threat you are required to take the blades off the wind generator or at least tie off the blades. Be aware that when the boat is ashore reaching up to the blades maybe difficult.


Solar is a very good power source, so switch it on and with plenty of Caribbean sun available it should work well. Set the charge controller as specified by the manufacturer.


Should there be a storm, you should protect your solar panels. Maybe they can be removed or covered and again, this is where your local help will be invaluable.




Cleaning your boat is crucial. Moisture encourages the growth of mold and mildew, especially in hot, humid environments.


Removing all salt residue from all your equipment is essential as salt captures moisture. Make sure everything is cleaned and dried before storing it away below. Above decks too, wash everything thoroughly and get all the salt out of the fittings/fairleads/jammers and off the stainless and hatches etc.


Mold and mildew get everywhere and, in an enclosed warm boat, it thrives. Cleaning everything with a diluted vinegar solution is our recommendation.


Any linens should be washed and dried and packed in plastic bags, berth mattresses should be lifted and positioned to allow air to circulate and window curtains and hatch blinds should be pulled over.


You will need to keep unwanted bugs out. It sounds obvious but discard all open food stuff on board.  Only keep items in tins, jars and sealed containers. Dry goods like rice and flour may get weevils even in sealed containers, so throw it all away and start with fresh goods when you return. This is a good time to check sell by dates. If you keep any tins put them in plastic bags so, if they rust, you won’t get difficult stains.


Clean all the surfaces, particularly the galley, and make sure that there are no small food particles for roaches to feast upon. Clean the fridge/freezer/ice maker and leave the doors open so they can air. Hang a tea towel over the doors and this will prevent them closing and allow air to circulate. Remember to pickle the water-maker if you have one.


It’s sensible to place a few roach traps around the boat too. Close all the seacocks and, if you remove the speedo, either put in the blank or cover the hole with mesh to stop critters crawling in. If you can, put mesh over any vents.


Camphor balls placed strategically around the boat and a hefty dose of bug spray when you close her up should also help to keep the nasties at bay.


If you have a dehumidifier and a power source, all the better, but again make sure you have someone to check it regularly. Alternatively use a few Damp Rid pots around the boat. But remember these will need emptying and crystals replacing in line with manufacturer details, so put this on the list for your boat manager.




All the deck gear needs cleaning and removing. BBQ’s, life rings, danbuoys, boat hooks, jack-lines etc. should all be washed, cleaned, dried and stowed. The same with cockpit cushions; these will need a good clean and plenty of drying. When you stow them below, make sure they are positioned so air can circulate around them.


Fenders and mooring lines need removing and storing below after your haul.


Bimini frames need securing and booms need to be lowered and secured. If you can’t lower the boom, make sure it is tied off and will not work back and forth in the wind.


Sails should be washed and thoroughly dried and then stored below or elsewhere.


In Jolly Harbour Marina, it is a requirement that all sails (except in mast or in boom furling mainsails) are taken off the boat and stored elsewhere. A good option is to have them serviced and stored with the local sailmaker so they are sure to be ready for the next season. It’s definitely best to remove sails at the dock, if possible.


If you are leaving the in-mast furling mainsail in the mast, either pull the sail all the way in or wrap the clew around the mast. And importantly use an additional separate line and wrap the line several times around the sail and up the mast to prevent it getting free in a hurricane. Lock off the furler mechanism.


Remember to take off your ensign and courtesy flags. It’s easy to do and saves them getting shredded by the wind.




Tropical sun is harsh and the UV extremely damaging.  Any ropes and lines left exposed for months will quickly degrade and go stiff. Ideally you should remove as much running rigging as possible and wash with plenty of fresh water.


Your ropes need to be dried thoroughly and coiled before stowing. If you cannot store below then put the coils in canvas bags and tie securely off the deck. This will protect them from the UV and help to dry them after it rains.


Make sure any halyards left on the boat are securely attached and tight. Every year, when we are checking the yard, we find one or two loose halyards and have to nip aboard to secure them.  If you can mouse the halyards and remove the rope all the better.


Note that if you have a rope rode on the anchor it will most likely need to be scrubbed clean to get rid of seaweed and other sea critters. Remember to wash down the anchor chain with fresh water too; maybe ask someone to run it out when ashore and stow beneath the boat.


Deck canvas like Bimini’s and dodgers should be removed to preserve the vinyl windows and panels and stop them going milky. Wash and dry thoroughly and store below. To protect the deck and coamings cover the boat completely with a single canvas cover. (You may have to use two or three sections). A full cover will protect the brightwork, the deck/cockpit, especially if it is teak, and of course the hatch glass while allowing some airflow across the boat.


If you don’t have a cover maybe leave the Bimini up to protect the cockpit and keep steering wheel covers on.  Invest in some hatch covers on the boat to help protect against UV.  Here in Jolly Harbour Marina & Boatyard it is mandatory to remove the Bimini if a storm approaches, so you will need someone to do this.


If you don’t have covers then put some reflective material on the inside of the hatches. It won’t save the hatch Perspex, but will help to reduce the temperature inside the boat.


Instrument covers need to be in place and taped down. Masking tape is a good option as it doesn’t leave a sticky residue. Don’t use duct tape!



  • Lubricate seacocks and check hose clamps on all through-hull fittings
  • Spray your engine with anticorrosion spray
  • Remove batteries from flashlights, handheld GPS and other electrical items
  • Install padlocks to your cockpit lockers and spray with anticorrosion spray
  • Make sure cockpit drains are clear and the boat is level when you leave. You don’t want to return to a cockpit that has had stagnant water sitting in it for several months
  • Your dinghy and outboard: At Jolly Harbour Marina these can be stored under cover. Make sure your dinghy is cleaned and tidy. Your outboard should be flushed with fresh water and we can store it upright in our locked outboard store