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Go Back   SailNet Community > Out There > Cruising & Liveaboard Forum > Living Aboard > How/what to winterize for living aboard in Great Lakes
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Thread: How/what to winterize for living aboard in Great Lakes Reply to Thread
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Topic Review (Newest First)
10-17-2006 03:46 PM
silverheelsIII
Wintering on our boat in Toronto Canada

Heading (cheerfully?) into our fourth Toronto Harbour winter on our Niagara 35Mk1. We have two 30A shore power feeds to power three oil circulating electric heaters for us, and one fan-forced heater for the engine. There are two 3/4hp "Ice Eaters" under the boat. They typically run continuously from mid Dec 'till early March.
The engine and cockpit lockers are kept at 10C all winter. There's a magnetic block heater sticking to the Volvo MD11C engine to aid in winter starting.
We do not winterize the boat at all. There is a semi-clear shrink wrap cover over the whole boat to produce a lovely greenhouse effect on sunny winter days.
For more details read our Winter Liveaboard blog

http://www.searoom.com/silverheels/silverheels01a.htm
10-13-2006 03:38 PM
stonecutter
Winter??

Greetings from the Great white north as some call it “Canada”
Kathy and I have been living aboard since the mid 90’s and will call this winter my last at least up here. We will go south next year. But now on to winterizing. The ice here is thick enough to measure it with a yard stick. We walk on it, play hockey on it and some times park a car on it when we fish through it. Around the boats we use agitators to keep the water moving up from the bottom that prevents the boats from being lock frozen in. we also surround the boats with a log boom to stop the ice from moving against the hull . Most of us cover the deck with a plastic shrink wrap the keep the snow off, that provides us with a mud room for a cockpit to take off out coats and boots before entering below. Inboard I use electric heaters for most of our heating needs and have a propane furnace for those days when the power fails or when the temperature really drops….. come to think of it the power fails and the temperature drops at the same times… fancy that?? I pump antifreeze through the engine raw water system to protect it and close the valve. we also disconnect from the city water and use internal tanks. I will need to fill then usually every month but I do it when the weather permits. My plumbing has frozen inside where the pipes come to close to the hull and I try to lift it off the hull but that isn’t always possible. We just make sure the coffee maker is full the night before the pipes usually thaws out in 24 hours. there are 50 or more boats of different styles and sizes here for the winter its like a village we all know each other and watch each other water line so to speak. The only thing missing is our own Legion Hall (V.F.W. hall for our southern readers). Its cozy and comfortable I can’t see us moving into a house apartment again for quit some time. We have all the comforts of home ..come to think it .. it is home.. for those who would use antifreeze of any color I would make one suggestion in the drinkable water system use Vodka . I discovered the practice by accident one year while storing on the hard . I had forgotten to get a bottle of antifreeze for the potable water system and not being able to return in time I looked around for a reasonable substitute. In my liquor cupboard was a full bottle of Vodka. I disconnected the hose from the tank and using a funnel poured the contents in. ran the pump till I had Vodka coming out of each tap (hick) and left for the winter. The spring came and I had a party to help flush out the system. Lots of fun and no harm to the system better yet I didn't have to flush the tanks out to get rid of that antifreeze taste. I don't recommend it for the engine.
09-15-2006 08:37 PM
jswwrites What I do know...
1. At first we'll use the boats for weekends, as the rest of the family learns to sail and I refresh with some ASA courses. We would like to do a week or two along the ICW, but, owning a business...who knows if we can do that next spring/summer/fall or not. My dream of a trip all the way south and then a couple of months in the Bahamas...probably awhile off (sadly).
2. There is an inlet for shore power. Just one that I know of, in the cockpit.
3. No fridge, although I'd really like to get one. I don't know that converting the icebox is do-able since the Newport 33 forums seem to indicate both a significant lack of insulation AND a very hard time getting to the outside of the box to improve that. And it's in a very stupid spot (my basic method for removing things from it is to kneel on the stovetop and dive in headfirst...and I'm 5'7"!). I'm looking at more "portable" ones, but haven't given that full attention as it's a spring/summer issue (except, I guess, if I'm redoing the electrical system!).
4. Microwave...maybe. Cell phones...definitely, as long as we own a business and have a full time working but live-at-home child. Hair dryer...heaven forbid! Coffee maker...ABSOLUTELY.
5. 2 brand new batteries. From the invoice: Trojan Deep Cycle Marine Grade Battery 24SM-850. (That tells me so much...) They are on a 1/2/Both/Off switch. They are under the seat, and there's a built in space for them, but it's compartmentalized with wood so it can be redone and there's plenty of storage area here.
6. New alternator, too - westerbeke 39139. No idea on the questions about it. I wouldn't mind a generator or alternate power (my wallet might!), but none at the moment.

I'll post to that topic as well, since we've kind of strayed here...
09-15-2006 08:25 PM
camaraderie JSW...if you don't already have an onboard charger...perhaps now would be a good time to start planning your complete electrical system so you don't make piecemeal mistakes...i.e. getting a small charger then upgrading to batteries that need a bigger one. Some questions to start the process of thinking about it:
1. How do you plan to use the boat...mostly at the dock, lots of weekend anchorages, extended cruising with lots of anchoring?
2. Do you already have A/C inlets on the boat for shore power?
3. Do you have a refrigerator/freezer that you'll want to run when at anchor and do you know how much current it draws?
4. Do you want to be able to watch TV, charge cell phones, use microwave, hair dryer etc. when at anchor.
5. What size and type batteries do you have now? What is their condition? Do you have room for more of the same size batteries or larger ones? Are they on a 1/2/Both/Off battery switch.
6. What output is your alternator and does it have a "smart" 3 stage regulator? Do you have an on-board generator? Thinking of wind or solar power additions?

Thinking about and getting the answers to these questions and others will help us better define your needs and how complicated things need to be. Never fear however...most of this work is easily accomplished step by step. As always with boats...the real pain is in the wallet!
Maybe the "Design my Electrical System" topic deserves a new thread once you can better define your needs as per the above. Should be a fun one!
09-15-2006 11:21 AM
jswwrites The water won't freeze. The air does occasionally...

I don't think it has a battery charger. Probably not been a huge issue in FL, and I don't know if they even had power at the condo dock she has used. Is it a big deal to have one installed? We do have power, and will want to run on shore power whenever we can, so that would be a good thing to have. I also only have 2 batteries, and would like to have 3 or 4...would this be a good time to do that as well??
09-14-2006 09:09 PM
camaraderie Ahh....Beaufort...I don't think you need to worry about freezes with that current! I would leave the shore power hooked up assuming you have an on-board battery charger...otherwise you need to get the batteries off the boat. I would winterize the head lines as well gien the 2 week absences but still think you can get away without doing the engine if you can run her every couple of weeks and get there in the event of a really hard freeze.
09-14-2006 05:35 PM
jswwrites Camaraderie, we won't be there all the time (we don't live full time in Beaufort, unfortunately!), but I am there a couple of times a month throughout the winter, and am close enough to run over for hurricanes or freezes. And we will have shore power, but I don't know that we would leave it hooked up unless we were there -- don't know a lot about that, but would think you wouldn't want to expose yourself to surges or bad wiring unless you were there to have a quick remedy? All that said, probably a pretty thorough winterization would be in order just in case...
09-14-2006 12:25 PM
xort Duffer
If you decide to winterize your water system, consider what I've done for 12 years to mine, also in Detroit. I added a T with a valve to the output of the water tank before the pump. In the fall, I drain the water tank and then hook a hose to the T and put the other end of the hose into a gallon of the pink antifreeze. Then turn on the pump and feed the pink stuff through the entire water system. What I've just done is to winterize the system without adding pink stuff to the water tank itself. Cleaning out the pink stuff from the water tank in the spring is a royal pain, but flushing the hoses isn't nearly so bad. The pint or 2 of water left in the tank won't hurt the water tank, it'll probably evaporate anyway.

You should plan on backup power systems for power outages if you do live aboard in the winter. I've read that shrink wrapping with the transparent stuff created a very good greenhouse effect. Sorry I can't help you further with your prep.
09-14-2006 11:13 AM
camaraderie JSW...we're in NC as well. I would certainly winterize your freshwater systems but you shouldn't have to worry about your engine systems if you are going to be on the boat and able to run the engine if we get a cold snap. The salt water should not freeze. Ditto the head system but I would certainly keep the through hulls closed then you are off the boat. I assume you'll be plugged in at the dock so you can keep your batteries topped up. Run the engine when you're aboard. Keep the cockpit scuppers clear as debris and ice can form there and sink you!
This all assumes you will be in close proximity to the boat and making regular visits. Even though the bay waters don't freeze here, fresh water will in a good cold snap so if you can't be there to pay attention I'd do everything Casey says above except for the engine.
09-14-2006 10:21 AM
jswwrites Our boat will be in coastal central NC for the winter, after living its life in FL until now (it's a 1983). There's not a whole lot of freezing weather, but it is possible...not enough, I wouldn't think, to need the full winterizing, though. Anyone in a more temperate clime than the Northeast or Great Lakes have advice? I plan to be working on the boat all winter, and we may even do some weekends aboard with a good forecast...
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