How to protect your summer bolthole during the winter months. Follow our top tips for boats, caravans and beach huts

How to protect your summer bolthole during the winter months. Our top tips for boats, caravans and beach huts

By Daniel Edward For and Emma Gunn for




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As summer draws to a close, caravan, beach-hut or boat owners will be preparing to lock them up for the colder months.

But before you close your summer escape for the final time this year, make sure you guard against the perils of winter.

A few extra steps can ensure your bolthole makes it through to next year in one piece - whether it be protecting it from vandals or the elements.

Illustrious title: Phil Spencer with this year's winner of Towergate's best British beach hut competition, Jane Ashmore.

Katie Manning, insurance specialist at Towergate, says: 'Leaving summer escapes for long periods of time during the winter months can be an issue for some owners. If you are not able to visit your beach hut or caravan regularly during the winter, it’s always handy if you can ask someone local or a fellow owner that does visit during this time to check it for you.

'Early warning signs of storm damage or break in can be the difference between a minor repair and more significant damage.'

Here are our top tips for preparing for the winter:


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Beach Huts.

The earliest purpose built beach huts in the UK date back to 1909 – positioned by Bournemouth Pier on the South coast.

The firm British favourite now command prices as high as £170,000 in some parts of the country so it pays to keep yours well maintained.

Emma Watson, insurance specialist at Towergate, says: 'Beach huts have seen a strong increase in demand over the last few years and it is now not uncommon for popular areas, such Bournemouth, Poole and Christchurch, to have waiting lists of two to three years – while in Sandbanks you could face a wait of a decade!'

Here are our five top tips for maintaining your beach hut over the winter months:

1. Clear the area around your hut

Unfortunately beach huts can sometimes attract the wrong sort of attention and are occasionally targeted by arsonists.

Vandals often use debris from the surrounding area to start hut fires, so don't just tidy up your hut on your final visit, also remove any rubbish and leaves from the surrounding area - just in case.

British Favorite: Phil Spencer and Jane Ashmore inside Jane's winning beach hut, Betty.

2.Join your local Beach Hut Association

You might not be in the area for a few months, so by signing up to a local Beach Hut Association you'll have the peace of mind that someone is keeping a regular eye on your seaside hut.

If there is a problem over the winter - due to nature or vandalism - membership will ensure you find out quickly and can deal with the problem before it escalates.

Membership is usually £5-£10 a year and entitles you to a reduction in your insurance premium.

3. Turn the gas off

It should be obvious, but hut owners who forget this vital precaution place their hut at greater risk of fire damage.

Experts recommend that you should also leave your gas taps open to ensure that no gas remains trapped in the system.

4. Place a water trap in middle of hut to soak up moisture

Complex systems can be bought online, though these could set you back a few hundred pounds.

Towergate Insurance - specialists in Beach Hut insurance - suggest a few bags of silica gel or a bowl of salt and rice in the middle of the hut should effectively dehumidify the air, at a fraction of the price.

5. If it needs to move, grease it

You don't want to be locked out of your hut on the first warm day of spring because your lock has rusted over the winter. You'll probably want your shutters to still open, letting in the sea breeze and cheerful spring sunshine.

Before you lock up for winter coat all moving parts with petroleum jelly or some lubricant. An extra tip is to wrap you main padlock with clingfilm and then secure a plastic bag around it to protect it from the elements.

There are all different types of boats and advice may differ depending on your model and usage, so check your manual from the manufacturer to see what advice they give for preparing your boat for winter.

How to protect your summer bolthole during the winter months. Follow our top tips for boats, caravans and beach huts

Here are five of the best tips for any boat owner over winter:

Plain sailing: prepare your boat for winter weather

1. Clean up your act

Whether you're planning on living in your boat over winter, leaving your pleasure vessel in a marina or parking it on your drive, a thorough clean is an important part of winter preparations.

Whilst cleaning the outside of your boat check for any slight damages that could benefit from attention before the harsh winter weather. Finish your boat with a coat of wax on the topsides - this will protect your boat from scratches, corrosion and UV sun damage.

Remember to also clean windscreens, bimini tops and spray hoods. When washing canvas, let it dry completely before storing away inside for the winter. It is best to store canvas at home, rather than in the boat.

2. Flush through with fresh water

This is especially important for boats in salty or hard water regions. Flushing the cooling system with fresh water removes salt, dirt and corrosion, slowing down damage.

If you are leaving your boat in an area which is likely to register freezing temperatures, experts advise adding anti-freeze to the cooling system to reduce the risk of cracking pips.

3. Top up with fuel

Even though you won't be using your boat for a few months, it is a good idea to top up the fuel tank to avoid a build up of condensation over the winter.

Also, add marine fuel stabilizer to reduce the build up of gum and varnish in your engine. Don't forget to run your engine through after adding the stabilizer in order to circulate it evenly through the system.

4. Don't let your boat get Wet, Wet, Wet

Apart from the water it's floating in you should keep moisture away from your boat. Moisture inside your boat can lead to mould and mildew.

Clean up any sitting water and oil spills and clean out all cupboards and lockers. Cushions and other soft furnishings are best stored away from the boat in winter as they absorb moisture.

If you need to leave soft furnishing on the boat, avoid leaving them against windows or outside walls where they might soak up condensation. It is also advisable to maximise airflow throughout the cabin by leaving internal doors ajar.

5. Moor sensibly

A simple way to protect your boat from the worst of the winter weather is to moor it somewhere away from immediate dangers. Park your boat under a protective canopy or in a garage if possible. Otherwise, pick a spot that minimizes exposure to wind, weather, falling leaves and sunlight.

Many boat owners also invest in a boat cover, which can take a lot of the winter strain off of your boat.


Whether you own a static caravan or one that tours the country with you, you'll need to ease it gently into winter if you want to enjoy many more escapes come April.

Summer Nights: Are you already counting down the days?

We've selected five of the most effective ways to prepare your caravan for winter:

1.Cover your caravan

As with boats, caravans can be damaged by rough winter weather, falling branches from nearby trees and UV rays from the sun. Covering your campervan for the winter season will help protect its shell from wear and tear as well as slowing discolouring caused by the sun.

Tyres are also affected by the sun and exposure to air, so manufacturers recommend changing them at least every ten years, even if they only experience light usage.

2. Drain down your pipes

We're sure to have some sub-zero days across the next few months, so to prevent the risk of cracked pipes, make sure you clear the system and turn the water supply off - if your caravan is static.

If you have a roaming caravan, be aware the external water tanks will be especially vulnerable to cold snaps and it is worth emptying these for the season. If you intend to use your caravan over winter make sure your water tank is well insulated to reduce the risk of freezing.

3. Clean and empty the toilet

You'd hope this would be automatic, but it's worth noting anyway. There are two reasons to flush and clean your toilet system - including washing the tank:

1. You don't want the system to freeze up and potentially crack the tank.

2. Leaving the toilet untouched for the season is a hygiene issue and will attract animals as well as germs.

Some caravan owners stuff their cassette toilet with newspaper after cleaning to prevent easy access for animals such as mice.

4. Remove your valuables

Make it easy for thieves to know there's nothing valuable left in your caravan over winter. Leave cupboard doors open and curtains drawn back. Not only does this dissuade burglers from breaking in, it also improves air flow - which will reduce damp and mildew.

5. Keep some heat on

If you are going to use your caravan over the winter this is an important thing to bear in mind. Whilst you might be warm under 4 rugs and sleeping bag, you caravan is standing bear to the elements. So, keep a low level of heat going over night to ensure you don't wake up to a frozen system.

You'll also need to change you gas supply to propane cylinders as propane operates at a higher pressure than Butane and can still be used when temperatures drop below freezing.


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