Winterizing your boat is one of the best investments you can make in your craft. The failure to properly prepare for freezing and long periods of moisture can be very costly. Every year thousands of boat owners are unpleasantly surprised by damage. Freezing temperatures cause trapped water to expand with gradual, but incredible force, that can crack iron engine blocks, exhaust manifolds, drive units and more. Moisture can cause corrosion including rusting of metal parts- from shifting components to piston cylinders and crankshafts. Electrical connects can corrode. Fuel tanks can gather condensation which produces a surprising amount of water, which will cause the engine to not run, or not run well. Aged fuel will change and lose it's octane, and with water , will likely need to be pumped from the boat and discarded. In a worse case scenario water can enter the combustion chamber and not compress with the piston stroke cause metal parts to fail. The elements take their toll on interior and exterior finished and upholstery can fade, get brittle , and crack. It is serious stuff, but with a few hours attention, can be avoided.
Boat shops make a good business winterizing boats. Unfortunately some take advantage of the situation and do only the bare necessities to freeze protect the boat while charging for such (or is supposed) to include much more.
It is a great advantage for a boat owner to learn him self the procedures involved. This will save money, several hundreds just in time for the holidays. It will also allow the boat owner to take the extra care he wants for his boat. It also adds to the safety of the first outings of the next year by helping to familiarize the owner with the steps that were taken, and plugs and hoses they may have been opened. It will usually provide a lot of insight into the mechanics of the vessel that the captain previously was unfamiliar with. The tools used for the process should become standard equipment on the boat, as they are the same tools likely needed for “emergency” on the water repairs.
By Brad Heineken