by Conrad & Judy Kreuter
Q: Dear Boat Talk: I just bought a new boat this year. When must I decommission the boat for winter? JW, Bayshore NY
A: Dear JW: Winterization is a term used for preparing and storing the boat and engine for the colder winter months. Winterization is an important part of the routine maintenance that must be done when owning a boat. During winterization, the engine is run dry of fuel and a fogging agent is introduced into the engine which protects against rust by coating the internal surfaces.
Winterization should also include adding anti-freeze to an I/O engine as well as to water systems to protect against freezing which can distort and even destroy these parts. The gear case lube should also be drained and inspected for color to make sure that no water has entered during seasonal operation.
Winterization encompasses a list of tasks to keep your boat safe and secure. Some of them are stabilizing the gas, wrapping the boat, and storing the accessories.
If your boat has an I/O engine you must be very aware of the potential cold weather. If your boat is in the water, the temperature of the water will help protect against freezing, as it will retain the warmth generated during the summer. If your I/O boat is on a trailer, or being stored in a high and dry facility, the boat must be winterized before freezing temperatures occur.
For outboard boats, the season is a bit longer, but the engine must be kept in the vertical position. In this position, water will drain out before it has a chance to freeze.
Trying to use your boat throughout the winter is an invitation to disaster. If the boat is stored in the water, freezing waters could crush the boat hull. Ice could also form in the bilge making your bilge pump useless. If the boat fills with water, it could sink when the bilge pump fails to operate.
Taking the boat out for a spin on a sunny winter day sounds inviting, but remember, just as the water stays warmer than the air in the fall, it also is much colder than the air in the winter. Hypothermia can occur from a very short exposure to winter waters.