Facts About Boat Winterization
Whether your boat will be kept on land or in the water, it is imperative that you have it winterized. Here’s a formidable fact from Boat US:
“Fresh water expands in volume by about nine percent when it freezes and can push outwards with a force of tens of thousands of pounds per square inch. That expansion can crack an engine block, damage fiberglass, splProit hoses, or destroy a refrigeration system overnight.”
That fact alone should instill in you enough fear and respect to have your boat winterized without question. Way too often, repairing freeze damage involves replacing the complete engine which is not only time consuming but quite costly.
Of course, the most preferred method of storing your boat throughout the winter would be inside a climate-controlled facility with a backup generator. However, most people don’t have that option. So, then it comes down to leaving your boat in the water or storing it on the hard. Either option has its pros and cons.
Perhaps you’ll be keeping your boat in the water for the winter. If so, here’s a list of things that are imperative to do:
- Seacocks – make sure they are closed; check rudder shafts and stuffing boxes for leaks.
- Batteries – Make sure they are fully charged and your charging system is working properly. Clean the terminals and add water if needed.
- Bilge Pumps – Make sure they are working. Check the float switches to ensure that they activate the pumps and are not hindered by debris.
- Deicing Device – In the event that the water freezes you should have a deicing device or bubbling system around your boat.
- Periodic checks – Just because your boat is winterized doesn’t mean you shouldn’t check it once in a while. Anything can happen and it’s best to catch any problems early instead of waiting until spring time and finding twenty inches of water in your boat.
Several issues to watch out for if you’re going to keep your boat in the water for the winter are:
- Blisters – a hull that remains in the water is more likely to develop blisters due to the fact that it does not get a chance to dry out.
- Sinking – Snow, rain, ice, or even a small underwater hose or fitting that fails could all potentially cause your boat to sink. Regular visits to your boat if it’s stored in the water, are a must.
- Storm damage – Your boat is vulnerable to damage from strong winter storms, high winds, and changing water levels when it’s stored in the water.
An advantage of keeping your boat in the water is that water retains heat longer than air. So, boats surrounded by air are more vulnerable to a sudden freeze than boats that are surrounded by water. Also, boats in water can wait a bit longer to be winterized because they won’t be affected by the dropping temperatures as quickly as boats on land.
If you are storing your boat in the water for the winter, make sure it’s protected with proper dockline arrangements and fenders. We highly recommend that you visit your boat on a regular basis since there are a number of things that could damage or even sink your boat. Ice could damage a thru-hull or bilge pump, batteries could go dead due to the electricity going out, snow buildup in the cockpit could submerge above-waterline fittings.
All of the thru-hulls, except the ones for cockpit drains, must be protected by closing all seacocks and gate valves. If your boat’s thru-hulls are below the waterline and can’t be closed, then your boat will need to be stored on land for the winter. We recommend plugging exhaust ports in case they get pushed below the surface due to snow piling up on the stern.
Storing your boat on land for the winter has its share of potential problems as well. Proper supports are crucial to keeping your boat safe. Inadequate support can cause the hull to become distorted which can lead to other problems such as poor engine alignment, broken stringers and bulkheads, etc. Jack stands are an option as long as they are placed properly and can support the boat in high winds. Some other storage options are cradles (steel ones are best), dry storage racks, trailers, and lifts.
What about your batteries? Small boats that aren’t left in the water can have their batteries removed and taken home to be put on a trickle charger. If you decide to keep your batteries on your boat, here are a few guidelines:
- Top off wet-cell batteries with electrolyte
- Be sure the battery cable connections are tight and corrosion free
- Coat the connections with a corrosion inhibitor like Boeshield T-9
- Leave the batteries hooked up to a marine charger that has a float setting
- If leaving the batteries unplugged, then charge them fully at least once a month
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We are a mobile marine company servicing the areas of Maryland’s Eastern Shore, Annapolis, Baltimore, District of Columbia, Northern Virginia, and Delaware. Our team of professionals take pride in their work and put their best effort forward whether they’re servicing your wave runner, your boat (no matter the size) or your live-aboard yacht. We also recognize that all aspects of business work together and you’re only as strong as your weakest link. So the crew here at Kompletely Kustom Marine, Inc. strives to provide outstanding customer service as well as superior service to your vessel.