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CliffL 11-10-2010 12:13 PM

Winterizing Fresh Water Tanks
Hell all,

I'm a recent owner and am going to live on my new purchase. I'm trying to figure out how to winterize my two big 80 gal fresh water tanks for the winter. They're fairly exposed and I'm sure they'd be one big ice chunk if I don't do something. I"ve thought of wrapping them in thermally heated blankets, sticking a water bubbler inside (from a fish tank perhaps), putting an electric heater in the locker....any other bright ideas??? Anything you folks do that's cheap, effective, and easy??


kd3pc 11-10-2010 01:20 PM

if you are living aboard..and have some degree of heat...and fair amount of water in the should be all set..if you are a worrier...

turnoff the water breaker, and open all the faucets when you go to bed or are leaving for a longer time.

Even last year with all the snow and the cold temps...the interior of my boat stayed above freezing...with little more than the AC circulating. with two 80 gal tanks, your boat is similar to mine, like the tanks are side and side or side and vberth...and mostly below the water line, where things don't freeze as well

YMMV, and others will chime in with all kinds of fear..

macattackga 11-10-2010 01:51 PM

Being a dreamer, I've been reading inlue of doing.


Originally Posted by CliffL (Post 665103)
cheap, effective, and easy

Last winter I read somewhere that adding vodka to fresh water tanks is "a" method of winterizing them.

I don't think it took too much to keep the water from freezing solid... you'll have to experiment or maybe someone else will chime in.

The goal is a slushee consistency protecting pipes/tanks (maybe 1c/10g).

Read somewhere else that the high sugar content of the vodka causes algae problems...

Faster 11-10-2010 02:46 PM

If you're living aboard afloat, in water that will not freeze then the warmth of the water (40-50F?) will be the general temperature of the lower part of your hull, esp under berth cushions and such. Any additional cabin heat will just be a bonus.

Unless the boat's likely to be frozen-in I doubt there's going to be an issue.

CalebD 11-10-2010 03:20 PM

I've used cheap rotgut Vodka or Gin to winterize our much smaller H2O tank after draining it.
Algae might like the sugar content but it hates the alcohol. Always smells fresh come spring time and makes a great hand cleaning solution.

Bene505 11-10-2010 03:58 PM

I'm planning to stay in the water this winter. Just emailed my insurance company to let them know (higher rates in the water). I don't live aboard, looking forward to hearing your stories about how it went. There was a SN member that did it last year in Annaoplis, If I remember. Maybe he'll see your post.

If I make the time to implement it, I'll be draining the water hoses that go to the extremities of the boat: transom shower, both forward heads, both aft heads. That way I can keep the galley sink connected to the hot water heater and cold water feed. Those are all in the salon. The galley sink is just too darn useful to do without. The boat will have a couple heaters on, set to maybe 45 degrees.

I'm toying with the idea of keeping the engine "room" heated so I can use the boat throughout the winter. That will depend on rigging a cell phone to call/text me when power quits or the temperature drops. I plan on a power outage happening at least once and don't want to lose the engine as a result.


Bene505 11-10-2010 04:00 PM


Originally Posted by CalebD (Post 665205)
I've used cheap rotgut Vodka or Gin to winterize our much smaller H2O tank after draining it.
Algae might like the sugar content but it hates the alcohol. Always smells fresh come spring time and makes a great hand cleaning solution.


Can you let me know where you got cheap vodka from? I'll need to winterize at least some of the plumbing, if not all. (Then we can have some of the good stuff.)


SVAuspicious 11-10-2010 04:14 PM

Add me to the "don't stress" crowd. I've been aboard in Annapolis for the last four years, living aboard and sailing on warm(ish) days. If you can stand it in the boat the water won't freeze. I do drain and cap the lines to the transom shower, but other than that I don't do anything for winter.

WanderingStar 11-10-2010 04:47 PM

Brad, I don't heat the engine room. I run the nontoxic antifreeze into the raw water part of the cooling system, and shut the seacock. When I want to sail I just repeat after. I find that the engine starts without preheating (no glow plugs) after a couple of spins to warm it. If it's reluctant, I use both batteries and turn it faster. Of course, I rarely try to start her below freezing, I don't want to sail then. I also find it takes a long cold time before the temp inside the boat falls below freezing.

MacGyverRI 11-10-2010 07:50 PM

In 0 F weather the water here in Rhode Island only goes down to around 35 F, I have a propane heater for the cabins and keep it 72+. If you're in a heavy ice area, YMMV. Never break the ice from around a keel boat, it will cradle fine, powerboats wont...

If you have 24/7 heat onboard, your tanks should be fine. (mine always are)

This is a 150 watt stick on silicone heater (stick on a lower part of tank), cheap insurance @ $26.99. 150 watts would never burn a tank.
Kat's 150 Watt Silicone Pad Heater — Model# 24150 | Electric Heaters | Northern Tool + Equipment

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