The days are shorter, the air brisker, and the water colder. Winter is right around the corner. While you may be able to squeeze in a few more days of autumn dinghy sailing, the voice in the back of your head may be telling you it’s time to store your Rocket for the winter, Unless you plan to go Frostbiting (which we greatly encourage for die-hard dinghy sailors), that voice would be right! Here are some tips to prepare your Rocket for a healthy winter hibernation.
Your Rocket hull, spars, lines and blades are all gathered in your yard. The first thing you’ll want to do is give them a bath. Use fresh water and a specifically formulated marine boat soap. Boat soap is designed to eliminate salt buildup, clean your boat without leaving residue, and is eco-friendly so you can sail guilt-free. You can use a bit of boat soap on your mainsail if it is particularly dirty, but a rinse of fresh water will usually do the trick. Don’t forget to wash your lines as well! Removing all of the left over salt residue from all components of your Rocket will greatly extend the life of your boat and its parts. This is also a great time to apply boat polish. Stick to polish and avoid wax, as wax can slow you down in the water. Premium Marine Polish with PTEF will make your Rocket shine.
Next, make sure you thoroughly dry everything. Towel dry your items to expedite the process and leave them out of storage until they are bone dry. Mold and mildew from storing your components wet can be just as bad as salt water corrosion. Let your sail dry out by hanging it up.
Once dry, you can either roll up or fold your sail and package it in your North Sails sail bag (if you still have it). Gather your sail and line kit and bring them inside. Your lines and your sail will thank you for temperature controlled inside winter storage with increased longevity.
When it comes to storing your hull, you have a few options. Ideally, the best place to store your boat would be in a temperature controlled environment as well. Admittedly, the Rocket looks much better in the water than it does as interior decor, so the living room is likely unfeasible for most sailors. Instead, you can store your Rocket in a garage. A great place to store your Rocket out of the way is by hanging it on the ceiling. You can find an overhead ceiling storage hoist that will fit on most board boats. The Harken Hoister direct is a great option for this method. Alternatively, you can store your Rocket on its side. Lay out some pads or blankets so your Rocket is comfortable, and prop the boat on its port side against a wall. You’ll want the port side to be down so that the drain plug will be closest to the ground. Remember to unscrew the drain plug to allow for any excess water to dry that may have been missed during the wash.
If your garage is too tight on space to house your Rocket, storing your boat outside is also an option. The Rocket is a well built, durable boat, so it will be able to handle Old Man Winter if you take the proper precautions. The primary goal here is to make sure your boat is not in contact with the ground. Direct exposure with dirt can stain your hull come spring. The freezing and thawing of the soil can also potentially damage your boat. To avoid this, you can make a wooden shelf to keep your boat off the ground. You can either leave the boat right side up or upside down depending on how you built your rack. Lastly, you’ll want to make sure your boat is covered so that it is not directly exposed to the elements for the entire winter season. We encourage you to pick up a custom made Rocket cover from our friends over at SLO Sail and Canvas. If an SLO cover is not in the cards this season, a well secured tarp will also get the job done. If you stored your Rocket right side up, place an object under your cover so that the cover is pitched up like a tent, allowing water to easily drain off the cover. Allowing water to pool in the recesses of the cover is a sure way to end up with moldy canvas.
Finally, the most difficult part of storing your Rocket for the winter…is to wait for spring so you can go sailing again. In the meantime, check out our shop for any gear that you may need to replace. If you’re ready to level up your sailing game next summer, check out the Interceptor upgrade, which is backwards compatible with the standard Rocket. If you have any questions about winter storage or upgrading your Rocket, email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.