by Conrad & Judy Kreuter
Q: Dear Boat Talk: I have been thinking about leaving my boat in the water for the entire winter. I would also like to leave in the floating dock as well. Do you think this is a good idea? How can I protect each against ice? FW, Inwood, NY
A: Dear FW: Leaving a boat in the water in our northern climate is a risky thing, although many people have successfully done so. You will want to protect the boat and the dock from being trapped in the ice. Of course, the thicker the ice the worst the problem will be.
A simple method to keep the boat and dock free from the grip of the ice is to break up the ice around the boat and dock each day. A simple ice pick will do the job. Just smash the ice through leaving a small patch of unfrozen water around each. You must make sure this is done each day. Don’t skip a day, because once ice is solid around the boat and dock it may be impossible to chip through.
A slightly more high tech method would be to install an ice eater type system. These are electric motors with small propellers that are submerged near the boat and dock. The direction of the propeller’s wash is aimed toward the area to be kept free of ice. Purchase a model that has a thermostat to turn on and off the unit when the temperature goes below 32 degrees. This feature shuts off the unit when there is no danger of freezing and turns it on when ice could form. The ice eater works by circulating warmer water from the bottom of the area around the objects to be protected. By keeping a constant flow of warm water ice does not have a chance to form.
Most ice eater systems are sold with different horsepower ratings. A three quarter horsepower model will keep an area clear of ice up to eighty feet from the unit. Ice eater units can be purchased through your local marine parts store at a cost of about $400-500.
Most importantly keep a close watch on your battery system on the boat so that the bilge pump can pump out any water that may accumulate from rain or snow.
Q: Dear Boat Talk: My gas gauge on the dash stopped working. How difficult will it be to find out what is wrong? GS, Huntington NY
A: Dear GS: Your gas tank indicator system consists of three major components, the in tank sender assembly, the wiring from the gas tank to the dash, and the gas gauge on the dash.
To quickly isolate the faulty component start with the gas tank sender assembly. This is done by locating the gas tank sender assembly that is situated on the top of the gas tank. Built in gas tanks are usually located under a floor access hatch. If you have a gas tank that is exposed, the sender will be on the top of the tank. Remove the pink wire from the center connector of the gas tank sender and with the ignition in the “on” position, ground the pink wire to the ground wire (black wire) located under a screw of the sender assembly. The gas gauge should go to the full reading. If this happens then you know the gas gauge and the wiring from the sender to the dash are in good condition. The faulty component will be the gas tank sender within the gas tank. Remove it and replace with a new unit.
If the gas gauge does not move while performing the above test, then the problem lies with the wiring or the gas gauge itself. To check the wiring use an ohmmeter to test for continuity. The pink wire should read zero ohms if it is good. Also check the black or ground wire which should also read zero ohms when using the ohmmeter. Replace any wires that fail the ohmmeter test.
To test the gauge, short the pink wire at the gauge to the ground wire behind the dash. The gauge should read full. If it does not, either the gauge is defective or it is not getting the 12vdc it requires to operate. Measure the voltage on the 12vdc terminal to ground to verify the gauge has power. If it does, then the gauge is defective. Locate the same brand gauge at your local marine supply store and install in the dash. Your gas gauge system should now work as it once did.