Dinghy winter storage

Discussion in 'Boat Design' started by laukejas, Sep 26, 2015.

  1. laukejas
    Joined: Feb 2012
    Posts: 744
    Likes: 17, Points: 18, Legacy Rep: 128
    Location: Lithuania

    laukejas Senior Member

    Hello,

    I am not sure if this is the right section for this question, so if not, please forgive me and move it to appropriate section of this forum.

    Last summer, I had my first serious build - self designed (with a lot of advice from people on this forum and elsewhere) 3m stitch&glue sailboat named Melatelia, an extremely successful ultra-light wind dinghy for 2 people:

    [​IMG]

    It was built with birch plywood and epoxy, painted with urethane alkyd enamel on the outside and acrylic house paint on the inside. There are some copper-coated bolts and woodscrews. The hull is NOT fiberglassed, but impregnated with a coat of epoxy.

    The winter is coming to my country - Lithuania, and since the latitude here is 55°N, one can expect and average of -5°C (23 F), however, temperatures down to -35°C (-31 F) are not unheard of.
    Since I expect to sail this boat for many more seasons, I'd like it to survive this winter, as well as other winters that are to come. However, I do not have many options for storing my boat. Heated storage is out of the question. Basically, there are 2 options:

    1) Keep the boat outside, suspended upside-down 1m above ground on sawhorses, covered with polytarp. Polytarp is not waterproof (because it tears quite easily), however, it should prevent most of the rain and snow from making direct contact with the hull. I could try making a tent from that polytarp is suspended above the boat, but I'm afraid our winter storms will soon tear it apart, not to mention the heavy snow that will land on it. The obvious advantage of this storing outside is that the boat will have great ventilation (somewhat worse if polytarp is just laid on the boat), and whatever moisture happens to make contact with the boat should be carried away by the wind. The disadvantage is that there will be some inevitable contact with water and snow. As I said, boat would be stored upside-down, so the water shouldn't get trapped anywhere, but who knows.

    2) Store the boat in a garage. It is a simple wooden garage with no insulation and concrete floor. The main advantages are that there would be a couple of degrees warmer than outside (really, no more than a few), and definitely no water or snow to land on the boat. The disadvantage is that the moisture levels in the garage are pretty high even in summer: in winter, they will be even worse. Concrete floor is almost wet to touch. There is no ventilation there too. So I'm afraid that with the moisture, low temperatures and no ventilation, the boat might start to slowly rot.

    I'm leaning towards option 1, even if it seems counter-intuitive. But maybe there are other options that I don't know of. There are still a few months left until the worst of the winter kicks in, but it might be a good idea to solve this as soon as possible.

    I also do not know if temperatures in a vicinity of -35°C (-31 F) might damage the boat. Cold things contract; that much is known. But does the plywood, epoxy, paint and hardware contract at the same rate? If not, boat might develop cracks. Should I be worried?

    Could someone please advise me on the best ways to store my little boat at winter, considering these extreme temperatures?
     
  2. fredrosse
    Joined: Jan 2005
    Posts: 405
    Likes: 60, Points: 38, Legacy Rep: 56
    Location: Philadelphia PA

    fredrosse USACE Steam

    Low temperature air, even with 95% relative humidity, will hold very little moisture. So in the winter with garage temperatures at 0C or lower, moisture in the air will not be a problem. I would recommend storing the hull in the garage, protected from wind, rain and snow. Store the hull upside down, and suspended above the concrete floor. Hanging the light weight hull from the garage ceiling would be best, and as a bonus the garage floor space might be available for other uses, like parking the automobile.
     
  3. PAR
    Joined: Nov 2003
    Posts: 19,133
    Likes: 488, Points: 93, Legacy Rep: 3967
    Location: Eustis, FL

    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    If stored outside, suspend the tent, tarp or whatever over the boat, instead of draping it over the upturned hull. Most of the damage that occurs during winter storage, other than snow loads are from the tarp or cover flapping and wearing off the paint and scuffing metals. If the tarp is a tent over the boat, it can't touch it and permits full ventilation too. Ventilation is key to keeping rot at bay. Winds can be a problem, so I weight the edges of the tarp with milk jugs filled with water, wired to the grommits along the edge. Regular tarps will die quickly in direct sunlight and/or a lot of wind. Painting them will make them last longer, but the fibers still fail with winds shaking them to death.

    Inside storage solves a lot of problems, if you have the room. Suspending it overhead can save a lot of room, though critters can still make a home inside it. I store a number of boats this way, with a simple tarp on PVC pipe over the boat.
     
  4. rwatson
    Joined: Aug 2007
    Posts: 5,875
    Likes: 311, Points: 83, Legacy Rep: 1749
    Location: Tasmania,Australia

    rwatson Senior Member

    "The hull is NOT fiberglassed, but impregnated with a coat of epoxy. .... boat might develop cracks '

    Shame your didn't glass the whole hull. It would have made the hull a lot more impervious to weather damage. The combination of the paint and plywood is hard to predict without actually seeing the brand and samples. As it is, the quality of the plywood will now be most important.
     
  5. laukejas
    Joined: Feb 2012
    Posts: 744
    Likes: 17, Points: 18, Legacy Rep: 128
    Location: Lithuania

    laukejas Senior Member

    Thank you all for your replies. I see that my fears about humidity in garage were ill-founded. Glad to hear it. There will be no problems with space in that garage, because there is no car. I will then suspend the boat on sawhorses above concrete floor.

    Rwatson, at the time I was building the boat, fiberglassing was outside my budget and skills. However, the boat needs some repairs before next season, so I'm planning to fiberglass it - if I manage to remove bilge runners first (these buggers are epoxied and screwed tight).
    The birch plywood I used was the best quality available in Lithuania. Rated as "boil resistant". Don't know much aside from that, except that it cost me an arm and a leg.

    Any more tips about storing boat in the garage? Should I, I don't know, stuff some old dry newspapers inside the boat so that they, instead of wood, gather moisture ? Maybe a stupid idea, I don't know.
     
  6. Stumble
    Joined: Oct 2008
    Posts: 1,905
    Likes: 71, Points: 48, Legacy Rep: 739
    Location: New Orleans

    Stumble Senior Member

    To preface this, I live where it's warm, I have no idea how cold effects things. But my experience is that the less you have touching the boat the less things will rot. I would try to minimize anything touching the boat anywhere, so no newspaper, or otherwise. Just a simple cradle to rest it on and call it a day.

    Is there any way to add some ventilation to the carport however? Even a small solar fan would help the humidity inside a lot.
     
  7. PAR
    Joined: Nov 2003
    Posts: 19,133
    Likes: 488, Points: 93, Legacy Rep: 3967
    Location: Eustis, FL

    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    I used to live in a cold climate, until I wised up. The major two issues are freeze/thaw cycling which can have moisture freeze and expand, busting out glue lines, structural elements and delamination, plus the dramatic humidity changes from winter to summer, again testing all nonencapsulated wood and finishes. If he's using "boil resistant" plywood, it's not a WBP adhesive and it'll delaminate if it sees much moisture, so a short lived boat. This could be extended a small amount with encapsulation, but this also means it should have been done during the build, not as an upgrade.

    The best advice, given nonencapsulated materials of less than desirable quality, is to keep it clean, dry and well ventilated.
     
  8. rwatson
    Joined: Aug 2007
    Posts: 5,875
    Likes: 311, Points: 83, Legacy Rep: 1749
    Location: Tasmania,Australia

    rwatson Senior Member

    I think that the previous advice about having little touching the hull, and keeping it in a garage is about all you can do. You may be quite surprised how little the boat will suffer over the winter, and be re-assured that by using plywood, any minor issues cab be fixed with epoxy and glass.

    A humid and hot environment would be more of a problem with moisture, so I would just keep water out of the garage and keep an eye on the boat every now and then.
     
  9. laukejas
    Joined: Feb 2012
    Posts: 744
    Likes: 17, Points: 18, Legacy Rep: 128
    Location: Lithuania

    laukejas Senior Member

    I see. Well, nothing I can do about it, except what has been already suggested. If you're interested, here's the full description of that plywood that was used in making Melatelia:


    "Water resistant birch plywood, from I to IV quality classes based on SFS 2413. Meets class E1 requirements, based on EN 13986. Glued with phenol-formaldehyde glues, meets CARB Phase 2 and Japan's 4-star requirements.
    Boil proof.
    Meets these requirements:
    EN 314 / 3rd class;
    BS 1203 / H 4 (known as WBP);
    DIN 68705 Part 3 / type BFU 100.


    I'm not sure how close this plywood is in comparison to marine plywood, but as I said, this was the best stuff that is available in my country. Hopefully, it will resist moisture at least somewhat. The whole boat, inside and outside, is encapsulated in epoxy layer, maybe that will help.
     
  10. PAR
    Joined: Nov 2003
    Posts: 19,133
    Likes: 488, Points: 93, Legacy Rep: 3967
    Location: Eustis, FL

    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    This is what I based my opinion on.

    BS 1203 / H 4 is exterior grade plywood, though less in quality to the usual marine grades, it does have WBP glue, which is good. With encapsulation, you should have good results.
     
  11. laukejas
    Joined: Feb 2012
    Posts: 744
    Likes: 17, Points: 18, Legacy Rep: 128
    Location: Lithuania

    laukejas Senior Member

    Yes, of course. Sorry for confusion. I forgot that I had more detailed information about this plywood. Glad to hear.


    Okay, so that's it, then. Thank you all very much for your advice. I will move the boat into garage sometime in the following weeks.
     
  12. PAR
    Joined: Nov 2003
    Posts: 19,133
    Likes: 488, Points: 93, Legacy Rep: 3967
    Location: Eustis, FL

    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    You know, depending on how accommodating your wife is, you could buy a piece of boat shaped glass and make a dining room table for the winter. It would make a wonderful and unique conversation piece, will serve a valuable function and it'll live in a nice, heated and climate controlled environment all winter. Just saying . . .
     
  13. laukejas
    Joined: Feb 2012
    Posts: 744
    Likes: 17, Points: 18, Legacy Rep: 128
    Location: Lithuania

    laukejas Senior Member

    :D Now that's quite an idea! Wondering how many wives out there could live with such an intrusion of what they would definitely call a lover (the boat is a she, and, well, I really got my hands on her...). Luckily for me, I lack a wife to make such complaints.
     
  14. Petros
    Joined: Oct 2007
    Posts: 2,936
    Likes: 148, Points: 63, Legacy Rep: 1593
    Location: Arlington, WA-USA

    Petros Senior Member

    if you have electricity available in the garage, putting a small, perhaps 40 watt, bulb under the boat usually keeps it warm enough to drive the moisture away, prevent mold and other moisture damage. that would only use about $3 a month worth of electricity in most of the USA.
     

  15. laukejas
    Joined: Feb 2012
    Posts: 744
    Likes: 17, Points: 18, Legacy Rep: 128
    Location: Lithuania

    laukejas Senior Member

    Only $3? That's well worth it, then. Do I need some special kind of bulb? I find it surprising that an ordinary 40 watt bulb would raise temperature high enough...
     
Loading...
Forum posts represent the experience, opinion, and view of individual users. Boat Design Net does not necessarily endorse nor share the view of each individual post.
When making potentially dangerous or financial decisions, always employ and consult appropriate professionals. Your circumstances or experience may be different.