Letter to the Editor
Volume VII Number 42
October 21-27, 1999
With Winter Nigh, Stay High and Dry
Dear New Bay Times~Weekly:
The prospect of colder weather has most people putting up storm windows,
ordering firewood and getting sweaters out of storage chests. For boat owners,
there's another important chore: winterizing their boats to protect them
from the season's freezing wind, ice and snow.
BOAT/U.S., the nation's largest organization of recreational boaters,
has a free Winterizing Notebook to help owners make sure their boats get
through the winter undamaged. Some tips:
- Just because you live in a temperate climate, don't assume you don't
have to winterize your boat. An examination of BOAT/U.S. marine insurance
claims showed California had more winterizing claims than any other state,
including Alaska, Maine and Michigan. Bitter temperatures are a fact of
life in northern states, so people prepare seriously for them, while those
in balmier states often think, "It can't happen here."
- If you have a choice, storing your boat ashore is safer. Support the
critical areas of the hull - the bulkhead, keel and motor. Make sure the
boat is level to prevent pooling water.
- If you leave your boat in the water, close all through-hulls (except
for the cockpit drains) and make sure they are double-clamped with stainless
steel hose clamps at each end. Plug exhaust ports. Use chafe guards on
the dock lines and use longer spring lines to keep boats well away form
- Cover the boat, using a frame to help circulate air and prevent pooling.
If you shrink-wrap your boat, use vents along the cover or put a series
of foam pads between the hull and cover to allow condensation to escape.
- Top off the fuel tank(s) and use additives to keep fuel healthy over
- Engine blocks that freeze and crack are not usually covered by a boat's
insurance policy, and half-hearted winterizing efforts will cause your
engine to wear out prematurely. Change the engine oil to eliminate residual
acids and moisture in the crankcase. Use non-toxic, environmentally friendly
antifreeze to prevent freezing and corrosion in raw water cooling systems.
Drain the sea strainer.
- If you leave a battery aboard to operate a burglar alarm or bilge pump,
fill its cells with distilled water and fully charge it so it doesn't freeze.
Clean the terminals with baking soda, rinse and then put petroleum jelly
on terminals and cables to prevent rust;
- Discourage theft; take home electronics, smaller outboards, boat papers
and other valuables. Store sails, cushions, dinghies and galley fuel ashore.
- If you aren't able to winterize your boat yourself, choose a competent
contractor or marina and then spell out in writing exactly what is to be
done. Don't assume anything.
For a free copy of our Winterizing Notebook, log onto the Boat/U.S. Web
site at www.boatus.com or call 1/800-274-4877.
-BOAT/U.S., Alexandria, Va.
| Issue 42 |
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