Winterized boats‘Winterization’ is a broad term used to prepare an engine for extended storage – specifically through the winter season (when temperatures drop below the freezing point).

There are two main purposes for proper winterization: First, to protect the engine from freezing damage; second, to prepare the engine to be re-started easily after a lay-up.

Whether gas, diesel, inboard, outboard or stern-drive, it’s important to understand the ‘how’ and the ‘why’ of winterizing procedures so that each engine you encounter can be winterized properly.

Engine AntifreezeEngine antifreeze, rated to -100 degrees

 

To start, let’s talk about some of the ill effects of not winterizing - why is it so important and why do we invest time and money in it?

• Water left trapped in the engine can freeze, expand, and cause cracking in the internal passages, or the engine block itself.

• Fuel can break down and degrade, causing breakdown in fuel lines, gumming up passages in carburetors and injectors.

• Pistons, within cylinders, can become seized.

• Coolant can become diluted, causing corrosion in the internal passages.

• Batteries can lose charge, expand, and crack.

• Contaminated and dirty oil and filters can block passages and make starting difficult.

All-in-all: A hefty repair bill.

Drain Plugs

Each part of the engine has its own winterization needs. If you’re hiring a marine technician or marina to complete the work, check to make sure that each of these areas are specifically addressed:

Oil: As engine oil moves through a running engine, it picks up contaminants (dirt, particles, etc.) and turns thick and dark with age. Before lay-up, it’s important to complete an oil change so that fresh oil, with a fresh oil filter, is available upon start-up.

Cooling water: Fresh water, picked up from the lake/sea around the boat, is drawn into the boat by a water pump. This water is used to cool the engine and is dumped overboard with the exhaust. This water must be drained and displaced by antifreeze.

Internal coolant: If your engine is equipped with a heat exchanger, the coolant should be tested for strength (coolant can become watered down over time, losing its ability to cool the engine effectively). If it has lost its strength, the coolant should be drained and replaced.

Fuel system: Fuel filters and fuel lines should be drained, removing the current year’s fuel. Fuel should be stabilized to prevent breakdown and to retain its ability to fire when starting after lay-up.

Corrosion and fogging: The carburetor should be fogged and an anti-corrosion film sprayed on the external parts of the engine and moving parts (cables and levers) lubricated.

Ask Andrew 5Batteries: Batteries should be left fully charged when being stored. When the battery is at low charge, the internal composition is mostly water. When the battery is at high charge, the internal composition is mostly sulfuric acid. Water freezes, but acid doesn’t. Before an extended lay-up, the battery should be left fully charged in order to prevent freezing and to leave it in a state to power-up in the spring.

Now that we understand the ‘why’ and the ‘what’, it’s important to understand ‘how’. It takes a bit of planning to get the steps done in the right order, at the right time, and with the right materials. Here is a step-by-step procedure that will allow you to address each system if you’re completing the work on your own:

Ask Andrew 3


1) Before the boat is taken out of the water, check the level in the fuel tank and determine the quantity of fuel stabilizer (or biocide, in the case of diesel engines) necessary to add to the fuel tank. Add the correct amount of stabilizer/biocide to the tank.

2) Drain the water separating the fuel filter and change any particulate fuel filters. In the case of a diesel engine, air will need to be bled from the fuel system. By doing this, any time the engine is run in subsequent steps it will run on clean, stabilized fuel.

3) Perform an in-water oil change.

4) Once the boat is out of the water: Drain water from the engine by removing the drain plugs. At minimum, the engine block and exhaust manifolds will have drain plugs. More modern engines will have additional drains at the power steering cooler, thermostat housing, heat exchanger, and water pump housing. If equipped with a muffler or wet-exhaust system, this will need to be drained as well. Once drained, replace the drain plugs.

5) Choose the appropriate antifreeze - not all are created equal. Two types are widely available: Ethylene glycol, which is used as a coolant in the closed coolant system, if present, and propylene glycol, which is the type that should be used for extended storage in the fresh-water cooling system. Try to choose an antifreeze with corrosion inhibitors, and rated appropriately for temperature.

Ask Andrew 4A note on temperature rating: the antifreeze that is run through the engine will absorb and displace any water left in the cooling passages. This means that the antifreeze will be diluted as it exits the boat. The antifreeze at the exhaust should be tested for strength with a refractometer, which will give a precise temperature rating, after being diluted. A bottle of antifreeze that is rated at -50 degrees may only be effective to -20 degrees once diluted.

6) Test the coolant in the heat exchanger, if equipped. Measure its strength and drain/replace if it is not adequate.

7) Run antifreeze through the open/fresh-water cooling system of the engine:

a. On inboard engines: Remove the hose from the seacock that draws seawater into the boat, through the movement of the fresh water pump. Pour antifreeze into a clean bucket, and set up the hose in the bucket. At the aft end of the boat, set up a bucket or container to collect the water and antifreeze that exits through the exhaust. Start the engine and monitor the movement of the antifreeze from the water pump through to exhaust. Continue running the engine until it appears that pure antifreeze is exiting through the exhaust. Take a measurement of the antifreeze using a refractometer at the exhaust. If the strength isn’t sufficient for your winter climate, run more antifreeze through the engine and re-test until it is in range.

b. On stern-drive units with an engine-mounted water pump (OMC, Volvo and Bravo style stern-drives): Remove the intake hose from the engine-mounted water pump. Run a suitable hose from the water pump to a bucket full of antifreeze, as in step (a).

c. On stern-drive units with a drive-mounted water pump (OMC and Alpha style stern-drives): Attach a set of muffs to the stern drive pick-up. Use a manual pressure pump to pump antifreeze to the drive pick-up and start the engine. Complete the process as in step (a).

Ask Andrew 68) Before shutting the engine off, spray fogging oil into the carburetor intake. Continue spraying until the carburetor is unable to draw air, and the engine shuts down. This will leave a quantity of oil in the carburetor, and in each engine cylinder, preventing internal corrosion and seizing of moving parts.

9) Charge the battery (preventing freezing damage), and disconnect cables from the negative battery post. This prevents the battery from discharging over the winter and will ensure that it’s ready for action in the spring. (I recommend using a cable tie to keep the cables together when they are removed – this ensures that none are missed when reconnecting.)

If in doubt on process, consult your engine’s service manual (which will have detailed winterization instructions), or speak with your local marina either to confirm that you’re on the right track or to have them perform the work for you. Winterizing your engine is a great way to get to learn your boat’s set-up and to stay ‘hands-on’ with your maintenance, but should also be done thoroughly without cutting corners in the materials used and the labour needed to do it right.

Related Articles

Lifestyle

  • Prev
This line-up of Beneteaus can to us from our friends at RCR Yachts in NY State where they are ...
As another harsh Victoria winter came to a close, the deck repair and refinishing continued with ...
The Peterborough Canoe Company was formed in 1892 and began production the following year after ...
On one of the sunny days we had recently, Kyle MacTaggart in Honey Harbour ON fired up the Merc to ...
For all those OnBoard subscribers who have followed along with the maintenance, repairs and ...
We hardly need tell you about the pandemic but it’s worth noting that the marine industry is acting ...
If you’ve been to CORK, you’ve probably seen Tim Irwin. Whether he was organizing volunteers, ...
This brilliant shot comes to us from professional shooter Elle Bruce.  These four sailors are ...
In 2008, Pat and Lynn Lortie said goodbye to their everyday life to pursue their dream; making ...
With old boats every repair seems to uncover something else needing attention.  Removing the ...

Boat Reviews

  • Prev
No wonder this is one of Regal’s best-selling boats; the Regal 33 Express offers amazing ...
The newest member of Beneteau’s Gran Turismo line is the GT 36 and this yacht brings the style and ...
With a philosophy of quality and 'doing things right Ranger Tugs launches the all new R-25 at the ...
The new Beneteau Swift Trawler 41 renews the spirit of the practical seaworthy cruiser. The ...
The Canadian Yachting test crew last week had the opportunity to run the Bavaria S36 HT at St ...

CY Virtual Video Boat Tours

Virtual Boat ToursWe all love boats and nothing can break us up! So, what better way to spend our time than looking at interesting boats and going aboard in a virtual ride or tour. We have asked our friends at various dealers and manufacturers to help us assemble a one-stop online resource to experience some of the most interesting boats on the market today. Where the CY Team has done a review, we connect you to that expert viewpoint. Our Virtual Show will continue to grow so visit frequently and check it out. If you can’t go boating, you can almost experience the thrill via your screen. Not quite the same, but we hope you enjoy our fine tour collection.

 

Read more about the CY Virtual Boat Tours....................

Destinations

  • Prev
If you have four hours to enjoy a fine tour of one of Canada’s most interesting waterways (let’s ...
Boom & Batten Restaurant is suspended over the water adjacent to the Songhees Walkway and ...
Provincial Boat Havens are those special places to drop anchor in British Columbia’s West Coast and ...
NW Explorations, a Bellingham, Washington-based yacht charter, brokerage, and marine services ...

KingstonBy Amy Hogue

Cruise into the city of Kingston, Ontario, and it will quickly become clear that this city and surrounding waterways have something special. Built around the northern shore of Lake Ontario, Kingston is the place to go if you love to explore new waterways, fantastic views, and exceptional boating opportunities.

Sitting at the intersection of three world-class Canadian bodies of water, Lake Ontario, the St. Lawrence River, and the UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Rideau Canal (Cataraqui River from Kingston to Newboro), the water’s influence is deeply woven into Kingston’s culture and history. 

Read more about Kingston...........

 

Marine Products

  • Prev
Since its introduction last year, the JBL by Harman Marine BassPro 10" Powered Subwoofer (JBLMBP10) ...
After decades of perusing charts and guidebooks as part of planning a cruise, it was a totally ...
Ever since I was a youngster Jeeps of all kinds have fascinated me. It wasn’t until the mid 70s ...
New from Plastimo, this bi-colour backpack in Tarpaulin 500D will keep contents dry from ship to ...
Being a boater can come with certain space restraints for additional items that may make your ...
Whether you are interested in monitoring your vessel’s systems while underway or remotely from your ...
No wires to install down your mast. Transmit to smartphone/tablet. Works with lots of great ...
Vesper Cortex, the advanced multi-station VHF, AIS, monitor with intuitive touchscreen operation is ...
The Handy One Combo is an all-powerful, hands-free lighting solution. It's tough, reliable, ...
The Nebo FIXR features an easy, portable solution for all your everyday tools.