A Bit of Winterizing For the Diehard Anglers!

As we get into fall and the temps drop, its time to do a couple things to our vessels to prevent freeze up from damaging parts in our boats. This can apply not only to those that winterize their craft for storage but for those that stay out and brave the elements during our hard water season.  All boats are different when it comes to "where will the water freeze?" so, the info here is only general as I can't figure out everyone's problem!  On the Trophy I used to own, I installed a closed cooling system so it was almost like a normal car engine, with antifreeze throughout the block and water jackets.  The only thing on the motor I had to worry about was the leg itself, which was pretty much self draining.

With respect to outboards, I contacted Yamaha a few years ago and asked them about any specific draining technique for their outboards, but only got a vague answer.  According to them, MOST outboards are self draining, meaning that they were designed to let the water flow out when the leg was put in the down position.  When it is below zero and I get back to the launch, I let the motor right down (main and kicker) and let them drain, I don't leave it until I get home and I live only minutes from the launch.  If you drive any distance in sub zero weather and you've got water in your engine, especially the leg, it could freeze quickly!  Along with lowering the leg and draining the water I pull the kill switch cord off and turn both motors over for just a couple seconds, thereby getting any extra water our of the pump.  I have been using this "system" for years now and have never had any problem, and I go out in -10 to-15 some times!

Other water areas of the boat are the pumps you have in various places in your boat.  Again, different boats so different stuff but, suffice to say there are some areas that should be looked after.  For my main bilge pump I take RV antifreeze, and make sure its the non toxic stuff, and pour some through the discharge hole on the side of the hull.  The fluid runs back down the drain hose and through the bilge pump, and will actually run right into your bilge.  No problem with that, leave it in there if you want.  I then turn the bilge on for just a second to circulate the "residue" of fluid that is in the pump.  If you get water in the bilge area during the fall/winter you'll have to clean it out and do the anti-freeze thing again.

This season I finally got around to fixing a couple of things I've been meaning to get to for some time now.  First, my live well locker has its drain hole right out the stern of the hull, and underwater.  I have no idea why Harbercraft would have done it this way, Hewes has a better idea where the drain is in the bow and above water.  In view of the fact that the use of live wells is illegal in BC, mines been "decommissioned" ever since I bought the boat, and it is now an insulated cooler!  The problem I have is water goes into the drain hole and up the drain hose, and then could freeze and split the pipe.  I've been lucky so far and that has not happened but, I have now totally removed the drain hose and plugged off the stern drain hole, as seen in the pic below.Rubber plug inserted into hole and siliconed.What's been done is, a rubber plug/sleeve (get them at NAPA or Lordco) has been inserted into the hole after I filled the hole with silicone.  This is going to be a permanent fix for me, so I also filled the rest of the tube on the inside of the boat with silicone as well and then, capped that tube off with a piece of pipe that is also capped off!  I don't ever want this sucker to leak!  I then put a heater in the stern of the boat to make sure the silicone would cure properly.








The next area there can be a problem is if you have a live well pump.  No matter what boat it is, obviously the hole that draws water in has to be, well, under water!  My live well pump is now used as a raw water wash down pump, as I hooked a chunk of hose directly to it and it now serves to clean up fish gukkk at the stern of the boat.  It also provides some refreshing water should you want to douse yourself in the heat of the summer!  Because I am going to want to use this inlet again in the summer, all that was involved to winterize it was to blow the water out of it, from the hose end, and then find the right size cap to screw onto the existing pipe.  Make sure you put some Teflon tape onto the threads first and, as you can see in the pic, I have gone to a galvanized cap because I couldn't find a plastic one, makes no difference.  I also ground down the round cap so it can now take a socket for easier removal.

Its important to have this one capped off as the pump is pretty much the same level as the inlet, so water could sit in the pump and freeze when you take the boat out of the water.  The next step was to pour some RV antifreeze down the other end of my wash down hose so it went right into the pump.  I then flicked the pump on for a second to circulate the fluid and Bob's your uncle!

As mentioned, every boat will have its areas where water accumulates, be it in bilge areas or in different pumps.  If you have a pump that's to hard to get at just put a hose in that bottle of antifreeze and poke the hose into the inlet for that pump. Turn the pump on and it'll suck the fluid right through the pump for you, just like winterizing a camper.  Once you do this for the first time, in future it'll only take minutes to get your boat ready for some cold weather angling, and not have to worry about stuff breaking.