Successful winterization focuses on preventing damage and corrosion by water and freezing weather. The most important rule to remember is to find everywhere water may be hiding. Wherever it hides, when it freezes and thaws it can severely damage that structure, pipe, tube or other object that contained it.
Another important rule is to protect your vessel from rain, snow, and frost while allowing a continuous stream of fresh air to flow through every nook and cranny. Good ventilation is just as important as roof or cover over the boat.
In order to track down the potential damaging water, look for it in “p” traps under the sinks, sea cocks, holding tanks, strainers and any other place you can think of. You should physically remove as much water as you can and what can’t be removed should be treated with a good dose of antifreeze. Since antifreeze is not recommended for ingestion you may want to use a 50/50 solution of water and vodka for the drinking water lines. Be sure to remember to flush out the system prior to taking the first sip next spring.
As soon as you pull the boat out of the water for the winter, be sure to clean the hull immediately. If you wait until it dries you will have to struggle with the marine growth that would have otherwise rinsed right off.
What about the engine? Engine manufacturers all have their own specific instructions about winterizing and you should consult your owner’s manual. Some of the basics are:
- Drain all raw-water systems.
- Check the antifreeze in an enclosed cooling system and top it off.
- Change the engine oil now, not at the beginning the season. You don’t want old oil, full of acids, eating away at your engine’s insides all winter.
- Grease everything that can be greased.
- Use fogging oil to spray into the air intake manifold so that it coats the piston heads and cylinder walls. (turning the engine over without starting it will make sure you get good coverage)
- Check sacrificial zincs and replace them.
- Plug all openings into the engine from the air intakes, exhaust system, breathers, and any other areas which could provide access to debris such as dust, insects and even small varmints. Don’t forget to post a warning at the ignition switch to remind you not to start the engine without removing the obstructions.
Take the batteries home with you and place on a non-conductive stand (two concrete blocks with a 2 X 6 bridge make a good stand) and provide a trickle charge to keep them “alive” over the winter. Don’t forget to check the battery water every couple of weeks during the winter.
Make a list of maintenance items that you can do over the winter. You know, those things that you should have done during the season but were too busy boating to take the time for.
For more detailed information on winterization see Winterizing Your Boat in the boatsafe.com tips archive.