Monday, January 11, 2010

Winter Time Boat Reminders

By Jim Baugh
Reporting Dockside Hampton Virginia

Issue, Jan. 2010

TITLE: Winter Time Boat Reminders

There are almost an infinite number of topics to discuss when it comes to preparing your boat for winter, weather your boat is in the water, sitting on a trailer, or even in boat storage. We will not attempt to cover it all her in 800 words or less, but just cover some of the things that we do, and see every year.

First, probably the most frequent problem I have had during the winter is fresh water lines cracking and breaking. This has happened about every year or so. The solution is a simple one. Drain all the water out of your tank and fill your lines with the proper antifreeze solution available at marine stores. This will do the trick and create one less chore you will have to do in springtime. Of course keeping some heat on your boat is a good idea as well. For years now we have been using oil filled electric radiant heaters to put a nice heat throughout our boat that is kept in the water. These are safe heaters and do not cost that much to run. We have also put light bulbs in the engine compartment when it gets really cold and run the de humidifier on the central air system when not on the boat. Trying to heat the boat with on board central air is a waste of money when not on your vessel, also if the water drops below 40 degrees, your central air unit will not be blowing warm air anyway. When it gets really cold on the 36 Trojan, I use the radiant electric heater and a small electric marine safe heater up in the bow that is on a thermostat. Cooking in the galley, or using a small propane heater buddy for supplemental heat works well while on board. Never leave a gas heater unattended! One other good tip when your on board and the temps are in the teens and the wind is gusting 30 knots plus,,, Do what I do!!!-- Long Johns, a friend’s house, or hotel room!

The Go Green Fishing Machine is a JVX Carolina Skiff with a new 90HP Suzuki Four Stroke. This boat of course can go on a trailer, boat storage, or even stay in the water over the winter. Right now, she is in the water because of Rockfishing. This rig is a single engine with a single battery, self-bailing scuppers, and a good bilge pump with an automatic switch. What we make sure of while the boat is out in the cold is to run the boat \ engine enough to keep the batteries up. The cold weather can suck a battery down fast, then out goes your bilge pump. So to keep it simple, I make sure our scuppers are free and clear of any debris, and the battery is kept at full charge. With all the rain we have had over the fall, it is necessary to keep an eye on your boat weather it is on land or in the water. Many boats have been seriously damaged by clogged scuppers and rainwater filling the boat. This is an easy fix, simply check on your boat once in a while.

If your boat is kept in dry storage, make sure it is inside. If your boat is going to be kept on a lot, be sure you can easily access it to make sure your bats are up and scuppers are clear.
This is also a good time to grease your bearing buddies on your trailer and oil up whatever needs be. After a trailer sits all winter, getting it to re lock on your trailer ball sometimes can be a challenge. A little bit of simple maintenance can prevent a lot of cussing when you go to hook up your boat in the spring.

Jan-April is a great time to haul your boat for annual mainteance. Bottom paint, wax, all those projects that you have written down during the summer can now get done at the boat yard. Here in Hampton we have hauled out several times at Sunset Boating Center and Bluewater. I cant say enough good things about both places. Bluewater has done a lot of work on our 36 Trojan as well as the Go Green Fishing Machine. Just give them a ring for anything you may need done to your boat over the winter. Sunset is a dry storage facility and is a wonderful place to keep your boat plus they have a very good fish cleaning station right on sight.

One of the biggest causes for boat damage during the winter is simply, neglect. Keeping a close eye on your boat weather on land or sea is the best thing you can do to prevent damage. If you cannot visit your boat for any reason, hook up with a buddy who is nearby to give your vessel a looksey once in a while. Here at JBO Central, we walk the docks almost every day to check on everyone’s boats. Just yesterday I stood by one center console and pumped water out of her for over an hour. Had no idea where the owner was, but at least his boat did not go down. Believe me, there is no more of a sinking feeling than approaching your dock and only seeing the top of your tuna tower hovering just over the surface of the water. I get chills just writing those words!!

What we will do for the Go Green Fishing Machine during Feb-March, is haul the boat out of the water, pressure wash and of course flush the Suzuki engine with fresh water. For winter storage, be sure to leave the lower unit in the down trim position so all water drains out of the lower unit. We will also keep a trickle charge on the battery and make sure the scuppers are clear of any debris.

Fishing here out of Hampton we are very lucky and pretty much have a year round fishery so that means a lot of us use our boats year round. This I like! I no longer live aboard my 36 Trojan, however some of the winters I have spent on her have been some of the most memorable in my life. I usually could keep warm on the boat even during our harshest winter, however getting off the boat and walking the dock, that is a different story!
Tight lines, happy New Year, and keep an eye on your boats Folks!

Jim Baugh


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