SY AVANTย  ๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฆ Rob & Debra โ€“ Beneteau 43.5โ€ฒ

Weโ€™ve had Avant offshore for a few years now and have developed a routine for
laying her up for the off season. Itโ€™s a fair amount of work, but pays
dividends in letting us come back to a vessel thatโ€™s not suffering from
mold or mildew, and hasnโ€™t degraded (much) from the weather when weโ€™re
away. We have set Avant up to wait for us on the hard and in the water,
and each has its unique requirements. ย Preparing the boat takes a
few days, but the effort pays dividends on our return.


Mold is perhaps the most pernicious hazard for a laid up boat in the
tropics. If it gets a foothold, the warm, moist interior of the boat is
the perfect environment for it to grow, and it will grow everywhere, on
any surface. To forestall its growth, we clean the interior aggressively
and then spray all surfaces with a mixture of straight vinegar mixed
with a drop of dish soap per litre/quart (the dish soap is a surfactant
and stops the vinegar from beading), wipe them with a cloth wet with the
same mixture and allow the vinegar to dry in place. The ph value of
vinegar is antithetical to mold growth, and it simply wonโ€™t start where
there is vinegar on the surface. The smell is overwhelming on
application, but fades in an hour or so, and is undetectable on our
return. We also mist curtains and cushions with the same mixture, spray
liberally in the bilge, and leave a few bowls filled with just vinegar
(no soap) in various places around the boat to evaporate while weโ€™re
away. We use at least a couple for gallons for this process.


View under the sun shade awning as we start to โ€˜gift wrapโ€™ the rig with aluminum foil.


Tarps are used for a couple of things: to keep sun off the decks and thus
control heat, and to keep the rain off portions of the deck. We use
them, but under the tarps we do get algae on deck.


Of course, we live in fear of a bug infestation of some sort while away.
We buy cockroach bait (apparently the kind that comes in a tube like
toothpaste is best) and roach hotels and place them around the boat. We
use the whole tube, as this is not the place for half measures. We have
found two dead roaches and no live ones aboard on our return in the 14
years weโ€™ve been laying up. We shudder to think how many we might have
found without the poison set out.


The temperatures in the interior of the boat will be extreme: in the Sea of
Cortez, interior temperatures of 140ยฐf/60ยฐc are typically reached daily
for a boat on the hard for weeks at a time, and 120ยฐf/49ยฐc for a boat
in the water. We have had cans of food explode from the heat, and an
unopened bottle of ketchup left aboard cooked in the heat to turn the
rich dark brown colour of bbq sauce. For unopened food we want to try to
keep, we get small plastic bin liner bags and after emptying and dosing
the interior of the lockers with their vinegar wipe-down, we double bag
the food in small batches and stow back in the lockers. If a can
explodes it will do so inside the bag and the mess will be contained to
the ยฝ dozen or so items sharing the bag with it.


Items made of plastic do not fare well. The heat and UV bake them. For items
below decks, we wet out a cloth with ArmorAll, Aerospace 303 or a
similar plastic treatment (easily found at auto stores) and wet wipe
them down. For items on deck that canโ€™t be removed and brought below, we
treat them with protectant, wrap them in a layer of paper towel, wrap
aluminum foil over that (two layers of cheap tin foil seems to work
better than a single layer of thicker expensive stuff) and then secure
the tin foil with liberal amounts of duct tape (being very careful the
duct tape only adheres to the tin foil and not to anything under it). On
our return we find the duct tape has usually been reduced to a skeleton
of the reinforcement fabric and is easily removed.

We also wrap winches, blocks and all other deck hardware in a similar
fashion. UV will destroy the ball bearings in ball bearing blocks.


Zippers and snaps like to corrode shut while the boat is laid up. We rub them
with cheap dollar store chapstick or lip balm (cheap lip balm is usually
a mix of waxes and petroleum oils like Vaseline) to increase the
chances they will work when we return.


Elastic will no longer be after a season of baking in the heat. Shock cords
should not be used to secure anything as they will perish. Elastic in
clothing and swimming suits may not be elastic on your return.


Grounding. Most vessels are poorly grounded, and their grounding is ineffective
when hauled (yes, you can be struck by lightning when on the hard). You
can ground your boat quickly and simply with a set of jumper cables (or
add these to increase the grounding)

If in the water, we buy a set of cheap but fairly thick jumper cables.
Separate into two wires. Remove one clamp from each wire, strip back a
couple or six inches of insulation and โ€˜frayโ€™ the end (or keep the clamp
and clamp it to a 1โ€™x1โ€™ metal plate) to make a better ground connection
with the water. We attach remaining clamp to a top shroud or other bit
of metal that connects to near the masthead and throw the frayed/plated
end in the water. One cable on the port side, one cable on the starboard

If on the hard, separate cables and attach one to the top shrouds and Jack
stands on the port side, the other to the same points on starboard.

In either case, the cables will be trash at the end of the season, as they
are not designed for continuous outdoor use. Brushing clamps with wax,
Vaseline or any other topical protectant helps them rust less and look
better longer. Even if you *think* your boat might be/is well grounded,
these jumper cable tricks will ensure/increase the protection.

We gather up all portable and easily de-mounted electronics (hand held VHF
and GPS units, epirbs, led flashlights, portable radios, etc.) and wrap
them in paper towel, then in tin foil, then in plastic food wrap
(secured with masking tape), and then place them in the oven as a kind
of double faraday cage. We disconnect all antennas and easily unplugged
items like chartplotters, AIS, VHF, etc. and leave them disconnected and
just hanging to disrupt possible paths for lightning.


Small batteries (AA, AAA, C, D, 9V, silver cells like A76, CR2025 and CR2032,
etc.) are removed from whatever they are powering, gathered,
inventoried and given away. They wonโ€™t be any good when we come back,
and we need to know how many and of what type we will need to bring when
we return.

The ships batteries (house and starting) we leave connected to our solar
array for charging while weโ€™re away, to make sure power is available to
our bilge pumps. We disconnect (switch off at the panel) the shore side
charger as superfluous.


We inspect and test our bilge pumps. Avant will take on a bit of water
through the mast, and other leaks may appear over the season. We want a
bone-dry bilge to keep interior humidity down. We know of several
cruisers who have had a battery die due to bilge pump pumping, and
another couple who lost their boat to flooding while on the hard (their
cockpit drains blocked and water flooded in the companionway in a
tropical storm). If your boat has a garboard plug, you can leave it out
if youโ€™re on the hard, and if it doesnโ€™t and the concept works for your
hull form you can consider adding one.


Weย  close all through hulls and tank vents and stuff stainless steel
scrubbies or rolled up green scrubbies in them if weโ€™re on the hard. The
scrubbies prevent bugs from nesting in the holes. Some cruisers use
bromine tablets (for hot tubs) in their raw water strainers to
discourage growth there.


We empty the holding tank and pump in 1 โ€“ 1ยฝ gallons or so of vinegar and a
liberal amount of Pinรตl or Lysol type cleanser. Better to have that
bake in the heat than what was in there before, and a completely dry
tank will form concrete-like deposits.


Sails and canvas are removed, inspected, repaired, cleaned, and neatly folded to be stowed below.


Our engine enjoys an oil change, fluid top up and wipe-down with an oily
rag before we go, and we leave the compartment door ajar so air can
circulate there too. ย Many cruisers do a freshwater flush of the
exhaust as well, but we donโ€™t bother. ย Outboards are freshwater
flushed, given their annual service, and run dry of fuel before stowing below.


Diesel tanks are filled to the top and treated with biocide (BioBore or
similar). Gas tanks are emptied, the gasoline given away, and the
plastic tanks are treated with ArmorAll or similar. We donโ€™t bother
trying to โ€˜stabilizeโ€™ gasoline for storage, the quantity doesnโ€™t justify
it. Jerry cans are emptied and treated with ArmorAll or similar. The
empty jerry cans and gas tanks are stored below.


We simply shut off the propane at the tanks.


Water tanks are emptied. When we return, we treat them as if contaminated as
recommended in this article. The water pump (and all other breakers save
the bilge pumps) is shut off.


If weโ€™re in the water, we double all mooring lines and add chafe guard (we
use fire hose) at all chafe points. We buy cheap childrenโ€™s T-shirts
and slip them over our fenders as extra chafe guard/ UV protection,
securing them at the top end with small line or zip ties.

Even if you have a hired โ€˜boat watcherโ€™ theyโ€™re unlikely to be 100%
available to come to your aid in a storm. They may be looking after
multiple boats, or the roof may be blowing off of their house (or their
motherโ€™s house) in the same storm that threatens your boat. You need to
be secured for a storm.


We have a RIB inflatable dinghy, and some years we have been able to
secure covered storage for it at the marina or yard weโ€™re at, which is
best. Other years we secured it to the deck upside down, inflated to
about ยพ normal pressure, spaced off the deck with dollar store pool
noodles and covered with a tarp. Protection from the sun while ensuring
its wrapping canโ€™t hold water against the fabric are the keys to
success. If you can deflate yours and stow it below, thatโ€™s even better.


If you store in the water, you will need to arrange for regular bottom
cleaning. The interval will be determined by local conditions. Make sure
the cleaner is reliable, has references, and sends pictures or other
proof the job is being done: we know cruisers who found their cleaners
simply cashed the payments and didnโ€™t do any cleaning until just before
their return.


Post a card in the window with local contact information for your
boat-watcher (if you have one) and your contact info back home: name,
email, phone numbers.

When we return, we find Avant fresh and dirty, needing a good wash after we
enjoy a Christmas-like morning: like an unwrapping party of all her
tinfoiled appurtenances. After some reassembly, weโ€™re ready to cruise
another season.

SY AVANT ๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฆ ย Rob & Debra โ€“ Beneteau 43.5โ€ฒ