Winter storage if you don’t have a garage

Hi folks
Just wondering how people store their Mirror during winter?

I uncovered my Mirror today to find 15+ litres of water inside.......on top of the side buoyancy tanks and in the bottom of the hull. Surely that’s more than just condensation! It had got everywhere. Sadly when I last opened her up about 4 weeks ago I had removed the hatch covers and the rubber bungs for ventilation so it had got everywhere.

How has she been stored? In the open with the front of the trailer on the ground so the Mirror sloped down toward the front. She had a proprietary flat top cover secured with straps and a very large new tarpaulin secured with bungee through the eyelets on top of that. I thought that would keep any water out. Wrong!

Having dried her out thoroughly this afternoon I’ve fitted a large jockey wheel to the trailer, and can now slope her down to the rear. Would that help? At least water on the buoyancy tanks might go out the rear drain holes.

I’m looking at building a boat port up the side of the house eventually as I don’t have a garage and couldn’t build one, but that’s for the future.

Buoyancy tank covers on or off?
Rubber bungs fitted or removed?
Tarpaulin or not?
Slope toward front, rear or flat?
Any guidance would be most welcome as I don’t want her to rot from the inside out.


Can you confirm whether this is a cover with no holes in it for the mast and stays? If so, it must be leaking somewhere (unless someone's deliberately pouring water into it). If water's pooling in it, then it only takes a small hole for most of that water to end up inside the boat. The most important thing is to avoid pooling, and particularly if it freezes over as that might punch tiny holes through the fabric. Fit something under the cover to make sure water always runs straight off. If it's already running straight off, there must be a hole somewhere that it's running over - it should not be getting in if there are no holes and if the fabric is fully waterproof.

If you can't stop water getting in, it would be best to turn the boat upside down and leave it without a cover. If you do put it upside down, don't drape any kind of cover over it, because damp will then be held between it and the paint, maximising the chance of damage, but a tarpaulin held up off the hull is fine.

curlew's picture

If the water pools, then the slightest pin hole will let it all in.
It is best, I find, to have a cover with no holes for anything and tilt the boat nose down.
I think all bungs and covers should be open for ventilation.
I think the boat should be checked often and if possible given a wash.
If there any doubts about the cover (I use a tarp) then two tarps are very good as it prevents pin holes leaking more or less and reduces condensation, like a fly sheet. Tarps need to be fairly new, as pin holes appear.

Thanks for the replies David and David.
The proprietary flat cover does have the odd pinhole only at the rear corners......none visible elsewhere though it’s obviously coming to the end of its life. Hence using a tarp on top.
The tarp on top was brand new in November and not a cheap thin one, therefore I thought pinhole free. Over the winter with the dinghy sloped to the front I have had a small amount of visible pooling on the tarp (cleared every day). The tarp does not reach the ground but that was intentional to allow air movement and ventilation, and this obviously works as the tarp can be seen to lift gently when the wind blows. It is secured with stretchy elastic and has a rope securing it to the trailer.

Obviously keeping water out is the best approach. For now i think I’ll buy a brand new flat trailing top, ensure she is sloped more to shed better, get a 2nd tarp......and of course check more often.
Oh, and I’d better keep my fingers crossed!

PuffinInTegel's picture

You should be OK for years as long as you stick to the regime of keeping the boat dry.
Mine has survived 30 + years of being kept outdoors for most of her life. I had rot problems when using an over-the-boom cover that let water seep in where the stay and shrouds passed through it. After repairs, I changed over to using a flat cover and have had no problems since.
Gernot H.

Thanks Gernot
That’s good to know.
I have purchased a new flat cover from CustomCovers for the princely sum of £48. It’s black rather than the advertised blue, but functionality (keeping wet out) is what’s important rather than colour (can’t believe I said that). I’ve yet to try it on the Mirror.
I’ve had one of their covers on my sports car protecting the soft top for the last 2.5 years with no problems so I’m hopeful.

It occurs to me that black will absorb more heat if it gets any sunlight on it and may help keep the boat drier by encouraging evaporation.

Hi David
I had wondered myself if that might be a side benefit. Just a thought minds

PuffinInTegel's picture

I just remembered that there was a similar discussion a while ago.
Here is the link to the thread that contains some pictures: .

Interesting. Like the idea of the loops to aid runoff and keep any ‘pooling’ unlikely. I also like the pipe insulation? on the gunwales. Might try both those. Thanks Gernot

PuffinInTegel's picture

The foam pipe insulation works quite well, but doesn't last very long. Some time ago, someone in the Facebook group "People who love Mirror sailing dinghies" showed some car roof-rack padding for transporting canoes etc. which looked as if it would be more durable. I suppose it's a cost/benefit decision as the pipe insulation is inexpensive. I have lost one in a storm, though, which means I've added to the plastic garbage on the oceans :.-( .
The hoops in the picture are a bit make-shift too. I've recently acquired some carbon-fibre rods (from a tent, I suppose) that someone discarded in our woods, and these make a far better curve.
BTW "Puffin" is stored with the bow up so that if any water does get in, it'll drain out of the holes in the transom. I also inspect the cockpit floor and the inside of the rear floatation tank at intervals to ensure that all is dry.
Cheers and have a great 2019 sailing season!
Gernot H.

Thanks for the info, comments and advice Gernot
I have obtained previously (just remembered) some roof rack pads for transporting a small row’s just grey pipe insulation inside proprietary made covers which Velcro round rails.
I’m looking at tent poles too.
You too have a great sailing season.