Getting your boat ready for winter
Autumn is now upon us and we need to think about taking care of our boats that have served us so well during spring and summer as the weather turns colder.
Read on to find some steps you can take when deciding what’s the best thing to do with your boat this winter….
Can I keep my boat in the water over winter?
A protected boat can sit on the water all year round, here’s some tips if you do decide to keep your boat in the water this winter:-
- If you want to keep your boat in a marina over winter, it’s a good idea to make sure the boat is secured properly with strong dock lines and spring lines in a fore and aft orientation.
- Make sure any sacrificial anodes on the boat or engine drives are replaced to last the winter and check your shore power cord and dock pedestal for any corrosion or overheating at the plug socket and terminals. If you are running a heater or dehumidifier whilst onboard during winter, these can draw a large amount of electrical draw, so best to constantly check the system is working ok.
- Your boat’s fresh water system should be drained as it might freeze and cause damage, so bring bottled water for visits! All your batteries should be at full charge and make sure bilge pumps are in good working order – you can sprinkle salt in the bilge to keep any water that did get in there to not freeze. There is only about a 3 or 4 degree difference in the freezing point between salt and freshwater
- The marine head holding tank should be pumped out – pump some environmentally friendly antifreeze into the system; this can be used through-out the winter as long as it is used when you flush into the holding tank. We have in-water winter storage facilities on land and it’s best to use those.
- Make sure the oil in the engine has been changed before the winter begins, check the coolant freeze level on the closed side of the cooling system to make sure it’s adequate and the engine will be fine in the water over the winter.
When should I lift my boat out of the water for winter?
There’s not a specific date to go off when lifting your boat out of the water, the best time to winterise your boat is when the boating season is over and you know you are done wanting to use it for the remainder of the year!
What do I need to do to winterise my boat?
There’s lots you can do to winterise a boat – here are some of our top tips if you’re taking your boat out of the water this winter:-
- Start your boat winterising process by changing the oil and filter to remove any corrosive contaminants which can do internal damage when an engine is idled for long periods of time.
- It’s a good idea to use a lubricant product which coats the internal bearing surfaces and prevents scoring of bearings and other lubricated engine components when restarting the engine in spring. When it’s out of use for a long period of time the oil can drain down causing a ‘dry start up’ which can score bearing surfaces. Add a lubricant, run the engine to bring it up to operating temperature and run for about 10 minutes – your engine will then be protected for the cold start after winter.
- Make sure you flush the engine with fresh water to remove any acids that can build up when antifreeze breaks down or other by-products of combustion find their way into the cooling system. Acid formation can deteriorate the water pump impeller, freeze plugs, radiator and anything else the engine coolant comes in contact with. If you have an attachment for a garden hose it can be easier – idle the engine when flushing, make sure it doesn’t overheat and run until the water flushes clean.
- Inboards and stern drives require refilling with glycol antifreeze to stop the engine from freezing, which can crack the engine block – an expensive job you don’t want!
- Fuel breaks down in storage – the degrading process can happen in as little as two weeks. To protect the fuel add a fuel stabilizer to the tank and idle the engine for 10 to 20 minutes to distribute through-out the system and this will protect the fuel that’s left in the fuel system during the winter storage.
- You need to protect the engine components from rust and corrosion. Remove the engine air cleaner or flame arrestor and spray a light weight oil down the carburetor with the engine running. Use the fuel valve to shut off the fuel supply or pinch off the fuel line to burn the remaining fuel in the carburetor or fuel-injection system. On an engine with a carburetor, the main jets are really small, and even a tiny amount of fuel left in the carburetor can gum them up. You need to take out the carburetor drain plug to get rid of all the fuel. When the engine is stopped, pull the spark plugs and add a small amount of lightweight oil into the cylinders. Rotate the engine a few times to make sure the cylinder walls have a good coating and reinstall the plugs or disable the ignition and turn the engine over while spraying a lightweight oil down the carburetor.
If you follow these steps when winterising your boat either in or out of the water, you can reduce the chance of having any problems with damage and deterioration and can look forward to a smooth start to the sailing season next spring!