How To Winterize A Boat

Discussion in 'Boat Tips' started by misterwhiskers, Oct 25, 2005.

  1. misterwhiskers

    misterwhiskers New Member

    Winterizing a boat gets a bit complicated when you live in an area where you can expect long periods of below freezing winter temperatures. Here are some tips and procedures for getting your boat ready for her winter snooze and then a no-surprises wake-up in the spring.

    The Engine will need: (in this order)

    1. The fuel tank topped off and fuel stabilizer added. Stir it up if you can. It's also a good time to drain off any water that may have collected in the fuel filter sediment bowl…if you have one.
    2. The oil and oil filter can be changed after the engine has been run long enough to come up to temperature. There is a certain amount of condensation produced and some acids formed when the engine is running. Changing the oil gets rid of the moisture and any corrosive materials. You'll need an oil pump with its suction hose small enough to fit into the dipstick hole. These are available from marine supply stores. Try to get it as deep into the oil as possible. This doesn't remove all of the old oil, but it will get most of it.
    3. Save checking the condition of the zincs until spring.
    4. If you don't know when the fuel filters were last changed, this is a good time to do that. If you don't know how to change them and then "bleed" the fuel system, this is a good time to learn. With the new oil and filters installed, and the fuel system bled, run the engine again for a while to get the new oil through everything. Then connect the raw water intake hose to a bucket of non-toxic antifreeze and keep feeding it until you see color coming out the exhaust. Shut down the engine and wish the little darling a good winter's nap.
    5. But before she snoozes off, slacken the alternator and water pump vee belts and then give her a good wipe-down with some sort of light anti-rust oil. Don't forget the shift linkage and the shifter. Everybody swears by WD-40. I don't like the stuff by itself and always use a mixture of WD-40 and Marvel Mystery Oil. Why Mystery Oil? Who knows! When I was a kid, in somewhat prehistoric times, I was never without a can of it and used it everywhere. From bicycles to BB guns, it was the cookie. Strange habits are hard to break.
    6. Check all hoses for any signs of bulging, cracking or loss of flexibility.
    7. Check all clamps for any signs of rust or corrosion and re-tighten them. Note, if any fittings are below the waterline, they MUST be double-clamped!
    8. Seal all engine openings, inlets and exhausts. Note: Make sure you remember to remove these seals in the spring.
    9.If you have an inboard drive system, check the drive shaft, strut bearings and rudderpost for wear. If you can wiggle the propeller shaft or rudderpost, it needs to be looked into as there should not be any play in them.

    Batteries and Electronics:
    Charge the batteries and store them inside where the temp is above 30 deg F. No magic here. I once worked at a gas station and my boss told me to never set a battery on a concrete floor because the mass of the concrete did something wild and wooly that would quickly degrade the battery. I've heard that this is an "old wives tale" that has no factual/scientific basis at all. I have never reacted well to facts that are in conflict with a perfectly good myth. I therefore store my batteries on a 2" piece of Styrofoam that insulates them from the basement floor. All electronics should be stored in a warm dry place. The fluctuations of temperature and humidity can cause condensation damage to certain components and degrading of printed circuit boards. Although most pc boards for marine use are coated with a moisture seal, in high volume products this sealing may not be of the best quality. It's wize to keep the gear cozy and dry. Remove all electronics, such as VHF radios, depth sounders, GPS/ chart plotters, Radar, etc. and store in a warm, dry place. I've been told that any LCD screen, when exposed to minus twenty (-20 °) degrees F, is "toast"!
    Spray all terminals and connectors, including your AC shore socket, with a moisture dispelling product,such as WD40®, for example.
    (((1. Disconnect the ground (negative) terminal first! THIS IS A MUST. Then disconnect the positive terminal.
    2. Remove the battery from the boat and place it on a work surface.
    3. Clean off the outside of the battery. Make sure the top is free of dirt, grease and oil.
    4. Clean the terminals with baking soda and water, then wipe them dry with a paper towel.
    5. Remove the caps from each of the cells and check the fluid level. If the fluid is not up to or near the top of the cell, add DISTILLED water ONLY. Then replace the caps.
    6. Take a multimeter and set the dial on the D.C. (Direct Current) setting. Then place the negative lead on the ( - ) terminal and the positive lead on the ( + ) terminal.
    7. Each cell should produce about 2.1 volts at full charge. As a result, your meter should show around 12.6 volts - or better - total.
    8. If the battery is below full charge, hook up a small, low ampere charger and charge the battery slowly. I remove the caps during this process.
    9. After the battery reaches full charge, replace the caps and let it set for 24 hours. Check it with the multimeter. If it has held its charge, it's good to go.
    10. Using an inexpensive battery terminal cleaning device, shine up both the terminals and the cable ends on the boat. Check the cables for any signs of corrosion or over-heating.
    11. Clean your battery box inside and out. Make sure that it is firmly affixed to your boat.
    12. Put the battery back into the boat. Connect the positive terminal first and the negative terminal last. Make sure they are really tight.
    13. Cover both terminals with nonmetallic grease. You can either purchase battery terminal grease, or use petroleum jelly such as Vaseline.
    14. Replace the battery box cover and secure it.))))

    Batteries produce hydrogen gas. NEVER, NEVER, NEVER have any kind of open flame near them!
    Batteries have acid in them. Use rubber gloves, wear clothes that you no longer care about and wear safety glasses when working with them.
    When you're moving the battery around, keep it as level as possible. This will help keep the battery acid from leaking.
    Make sure there is good (read: excellent) ventilation in your battery compartment.
    Check your battery's water level often and then make sure the top is clean and dry.

    Hull Exterior:
    1. Fall is the time to wash, clean and wax the topsides, bottom, deck, hardware and trim. Apply a good Carnuba wax to all your chrome and polished stainless steel pieces. Leave the wax on, unpolished, until spring commissioning, as the it makes a great protective barrier.
    2. Fall is also the best time to repair any hull damage. If you have a fiberglass boat and it stays in the water for months at a time, be sure to check for osmosis blistering.
    3. Clean and polish the windshield, windows and drop curtains.

    1. Remove any standing water from the bilge and then thoroughly clean the bilge.
    2. Clean all lockers and drawers. Leave them open if possible, so that the boat can “breathe”.
    3. Installing some special equipment or using some product that helps to dehumidify the boat's interior, is also a great idea to help keep your boat smelling good.

    Winter Cover: Commonly, there are only two choices here - a tarp over a frame or shrink-wrap. I don't believe in shrink-wrap and.The common "blue" poly tarp is a poor choice. Material thickness is only about .003" and I've never gotten more than two years use out of one of these $30 cheapies. For about $70 you can get a "farm" quality tarp made from .008" material. The one I have now has been used for three years. This should be its last. The frame itself can be built from scrap wood or 1"x 3" strapping lumber. The only consideration here is to make the ridgepole high enough to let even wet snow slide off. To protect the tarp from any sharp edges, get a roll of "sill-seal" foam strip from your local building supplier and staple it where needed. Tying down the cover is not rocket science. Leave the ends open for ventilation and don't fasten any of the hold-down lines to your jack stands - tie them from side to side passing under the hull. The whole covering routine shouldn't take more than an afternoon unless you make it a social event.