FALL IS HARD upon us, which means winter is closer than many care to contemplate. Nonetheless, the seasons march on and we need to be prepared. Boat US, the nation’s largest organization of recreational boaters, has some timely tips on why and how to winterize your boat.
Water expands almost 10 percent by volume. This means that any water left in your boat’s engine, potable water system or refrigeration system can do some major damage over the winter. Even an engine block can crack open during cold weather. To avoid such issues, make certain all water gets drained out or is replaced by antifreeze.
Remove your batteries, stow them in a garage or basement and use a trickle charger to keep them topped off to protect them and extend their life.
Without air circulation, your boat’s interior can build up condensation, which can lead to a moldy mess next spring. Solar-powered vents and boat covers that let air circulate can help keep mold at bay.
Waxing the hull now makes clean-up in spring much easier. The grunge of sitting all winter in storage comes off a lot quicker if you apply a coat of wax before you put your boat to bed for the winter.
There are two types of antifreeze. Ethylene glycol — the kind in your boat’s cooling system works fine for engines, but it’s very toxic. Propylene glycol is safe for potable water systems and is also fine to use for the raw side of engine cooling systems — check the label. Make sure antifreeze is rated to protect down to the lowest possible expected temperatures.
Add fuel stabilizer before you fill your tank. That helps mix the stabilizer so it protects all of the gas. Running your engine for a few minutes after mixing it up will get some stabilized gas in the engine’s fuel system, protecting it over the winter.
If enough water enters your fuel tank, gas with ethanol can separate over the long winter storage period. For boats with portable gas tanks, try to use up fuel now. Any remainder can be used (if unmixed with two-stroke oil) in your vehicle. If your boat has a built-in gas tank, fill the tank almost to the top, leaving a little room for expansion. This will minimize condensation on tank walls, stopping separation in its tracks. Never plug a fuel tank vent.
Write down what you did or had your shop do. That way, next spring you won’t wonder if the lower unit lube was changed or the spark plugs replaced.
Take home any removable electronics, small outboards and even alcohol. The dark days of winter are when boats are most frequently broken into. Not every thief is a professional – some may just want to raid your boat’s liquor cabinet.
Remove all food. Not only will it spoil, but it can attract rodents and other pests, leaving you with a nasty spring surprise.
Using a heater as an alternative to winterizing is a really bad idea. Not only can the power go out during a storm, leaving the boat unprotected, but the heater, extension cord or connections can and do overheat and cause a fire.
In addition to snowstorms knocking out power to heated indoor boat storage facilities, do-it-yourself-ers sometimes make mistakes when winterizing. Either way, protecting yourself with ice and freeze coverage insurance may be a smart option. It’s often very affordable, but there’s typically a deadline to purchase, usually by the end of October.
Baseball has Mr. October (Reggie Jackson), presidential elections often have October surprises, and Platypus Marine has its own October tradition — the arrival at its facility of the yacht Silverado.
Platypus, the full-service shipyard, yacht-repair facility and steel-boat manufacturer on Marine Drive in Port Angeles, hauled Silverado out of the water Wednesday. She will be on the hard for about two months while personnel attend to the captain’s list of maintenance items and give the grand lady a fresh coat of bottom paint.
The 120-foot vessel was built in 1974 by Willard Boat Works of Costa Mesa, Calif., for Harry See of the See’s Candies Inc. family. At the time, she was the largest fiberglass yacht ever built.
David G. Sellars is a Port Angeles resident and former Navy boatswain’s mate who enjoys boats and strolling the area’s waterfronts and boat yards.
Items and questions involving boating, marina and industrial activities and the North Olympic Peninsula waterfronts are always welcome. News announcements about boating groups, including yacht clubs and squadrons, are welcome as well.
Email [email protected] or phone him at 360-808-3202.