When October rolls around in Ontario boat owners look wistfully at the colour of the turning leaves and know that that the days of languishing in the summer heat on a cool clear lake are behind them and they will soon have to be making plans to prepare their vesle for the long cold winter. Here are a few considerations that you will want to make in those preparations.

    • In the past the fuel tank was left full to so that there was no air to create condensation in the gas tank. Problems with gasoline containing ethanol have made this strategy redundant as the old gas can foul when the ethanol absorbs water and stratifies in the tank. If you have been experiencing intermittent engine problems this could be your problem as when the boat bounces on the waves this sediment can get sucked into the engine and cause the engine to sputter, run rough or stall. The current advice is to run the tank as low as possible and treat any remaining gas with a stabilizer. The best is the enzyme type treatment made by Startron
    • The internal engine needs to be protected with a coating of engine fog which is a mixture of oil and beeswax that coats the inner walls of the combustion chamber to prevent corrosion. This product comes in an aerosol can and can be sprayed into the carburetor while the engine is running either to the point of stalling or shut down before it has a chance to burn off. Alternatively it can be sprayed into the spark plug hole of a warm engine and then the engine is cranked slightly to spread it around.
    • On outboards and stern drives the lower end lubricant needs to be changed one because any sediment of gear filings will be removed in the process but mainly to remove the possibility that water penetration could freeze and crack the housing. This is achieved by removing the two screw plugs on the lower housing beside the propeller and allowing the lube to drain then a simple hand pump that you can purchase at your marine supply can be used to refill the chamber. Connect the threaded hose to the lower plug hole and pump slowly until it oozes out the top vent plug hole.
    • To extend your battery life, remove the batteries and store indoors. The charge should be maintained either by keeping them connected to a good smart charger that will cycle off when charged so as not to fry the battery by overcharging. If your charger is the old style top up the charge twice through the winter season and remove when done.
    • If your boat is on a trailer remove the wheels and put on blocks. Tiers will rot from standing for long periods of time in one position, especially if it is on earth or gravel. Trailer tiers rarely wear out from overuse yet every time I head up the highway for cottage country there are several boats on the side of the road. This is due to boat owners neglecting this simple bit of advice.
    • Before you tarp your boat in two things to consider; First is condensation and mould this can be controlled by good ventilation and or use of a moisture trap such as the no damp product Attwood No Damp Dehumidifier for Boat Storage The other is rodent infestation. Mice, squirrels, raccoons and other creatures can find your cozy boat a great winter home my advice is to make it less than desirable by liberally distributing mothballs in the cupboards and hatches. The fumes will make it quite discouraging for the pests but dissipates quickly once you open it up for the season.
    • If you have a larger vessel with inboard engine an end of season oil change is advisable. There are handy vacuum hand pumps that can draw off up to six litres of oil drawing it up through the dip stick tube. You will also need to change the oil filter for which you will need a canister wrench designed for such removal. Be sure to use a drip pan, have rags handy and be environmentally considerate of disposing of your waste appropriately.
    • If you have water separating fuel filters these should also be changed. You can use the same canister wrench.
    • If your vessel has a water system on board this must be drained and purged by running a potable antifreeze through the lines. On my boat I drain the hot water tank and loop the lines to bypass it for the winter so that I needn’t fill the hot water tank with Anti freeze. Also I save last year’s line anti freeze to purge the head.
    • Onboard engines, heat pump/ air conditioners and generators need to be winterized by fogging and flushing their water cooling systems with antifreeze but this is probably best left to the marina staff as if your block gets cracked the insurance probably won’t cover you if you did it yourself.
    • Finally don’t forget to remove the drain plug so that if any water gets on board while she is on the dry it can run out the bottom and not freeze up and do damage.

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