Mar 2014: De-winterize De-boat

De-winterizing de-boat…

Click here for this PropTalk online-edition (March 2014)

PropTalk cover from March 2014

PropTalk cover from March 2014


De-winterizing de-boat  Finally, the best time of year for Chesapeake boaters; that period where thought of shoveling more snow is replaced with optimism and vigor for spectacular days tinkering and trawling aboard this season.  An end to winter’s hibernation, our excitement to be on the water grows with each minute of daylight, once a few winterizing steps are properly undone.  There are minor de-winterizing actions that are simply a nuisance if overlooked; my water heater comes first to mind.  I winterize my heater every fall with antifreeze, and like clock-work I forget to drain that pink-stuff out in spring before firing up my boat’s engines (with circulation-lines to the heater).  There is nothing nastier than hot antifreeze, a smell which continues to remind after months of showers.  There are more serious de-winterizing actions, like opening (and leak checking) seacocks, which could cause damage to mechanisms running dry if forgotten.  Often, you’ll be notified of your oversight soon after leaving port by an alarm, usually before serious damage occurs.  One of my old boats had inboard/outboard (I/O) propulsion, where engine cooling-water comes in through the lower-unit and exits through the hub of the propeller along with the engine’s exhaust.  I de-winterized this boat in my driveway, using ear-muffs to supply cooling water to the operating engine from a garden hose, as I tuned her up for the coming season.  Water from both from the propeller-hub and the exhaust-bellows (between the lower-unit and transom) sprays everywhere whenever the throttles are revved.  Failure to observe the de-winterizing warning signs one year almost cost me my boat and everything on-board (including me).  You see, all engine blocks have brass freeze plugs located in each cylinder’s wall, designed to pop-out if poor winterization allowed water to freeze within the engine block over the winter, hopefully before that ice has a chance to break the cylinder (or block) wall.  But, when you operate with ear-muffs and an open bilge drain-plug while in the driveway, one misses water pouring from the bilge as a warning sign.  Very shortly after launch from the marina that year, the boat became lethargic, requiring more-and-more throttle to propel forward.  Smell was the second indication of problems, fortunately forcing me to quickly kill the engine.  Seems a freeze-plug had popped from the block, filling the bilge with water on every revolution of the engine faster than the bilge-pump could push out.  The boat’s engine-compartment was almost completely submerged, which wasn’t as dire as the flames coming from the exhaust couplings because there was no water-flow in the exhaust.  So, make a list prior to de-winterizing, slow down before launch, then make sure you really investigate all steps for warning signs prior to the big day.  Trust me; hot metal exposed to an A/B/C fire extinguisher is not something you’ll ever want to see…

B.O.A.T. column from March 2014, De-winterizing De-boat

PropTalk's 2014 Credits

PropTalk’s 2014 Credits

Click here for this PropTalk online-edition (March 2014)

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