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This is my first year with a real sailboat - a 31' with a Yanmar 3ym20. I live in southeast TN and we get freezing temps but usually only for a few hours at night. By the next day temps are almost always above freezing. We may have a 3 - 4 day period during the winter when temps stay below freezing. It can be 30 one day and 55 the next.

Do I need to winterize my engine/exhaust? I have a composting head and the water tank is empty. I'd like to take the boat out all winter randomly - it's on a lake right now, and the best wind is in the winter here. Summers are usually dead calm.

Thanks
 

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with the usual disclaimer, I do not give advice (never) seldom opinions but share experiences.
I live in Morehead City area and have about the same conditions.
Do not drain the water tanks nor the engine cooling water, in fact do not do any special prep, my boat is in the water.
It will take an extraordinary event to freeze the water around the boat, tidal water, have seen some couple of inches superficial layer frozen for a couple of days.
Do keep a room heather inside the boat 24 HS/7 days, but do it because I live 2 blocks from my slip, and check daily, otherwise will not for safety reasons.
I take the engine cover out so there is good warm air circulation.
I make sure my bilge is absolutely dry and have composting head, otherwise will drain the bowl and hoses.
The marina shuts all water hoses.
 

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This is my first year with a real sailboat - a 31' with a Yanmar 3ym20. I live in southeast TN and we get freezing temps but usually only for a few hours at night. By the next day temps are almost always above freezing. We may have a 3 - 4 day period during the winter when temps stay below freezing. It can be 30 one day and 55 the next.

Do I need to winterize my engine/exhaust? I have a composting head and the water tank is empty. I'd like to take the boat out all winter randomly - it's on a lake right now, and the best wind is in the winter here. Summers are usually dead calm.

Thanks
Probably not... but it doesn't hurt and it's really a matter of getting all water inside the engine replaces with cheap antifreeze. In water the boat he "heated" by the water.
A real deep freeze can freeze water inside the boat... you need to be safe and empty water tanks, add anti freeze to toilets and remove or empty bottles of liquids which can freeze and burst their containers.

I store in water and have had water filled "things" freeze and burst... including a Culligan filter I forgot to remove one year.
 

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Hey,

Do you have shore power? Can you leave a 60w incandescent light on in the engine area? Does the lake ever freeze?

I would think that if the lake never freezes, and you can close the raw water intake to your engine, then you will probably be OK. If it were my boat, I would close the through hull, remove the hose to the water pump, and try to drain as much water as possible.

If I could leave a light on in the boat then I would no winterize. if not then I would winterize. If you get sufficient warning, it's not difficult to run a gallon or 2 of antifreeze through the engine.

Barry
 

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First off, I would ask around. What do your fellow boaters do?

If you really are only talking about short dips just below freezing (a couple of degrees ºC), then I'd say your risk is very low. Especially so if the boat is sitting in the water that doesn't freeze. The engine will very likely be fine. The thing most at risk might be any water pumps, but even here the risk is low.

BTW, I'm in areas that gets real winters. I don't worry about things dipping below zero for short periods. It's the long, hard freeze that is a worry.
 

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Over in Virginia (Central - smith mountain lake) here. We see frequent dips below freezing, but rarely below freezing for 24 hours. Lake never (that I know of) has frozen (partially because its so deep).

I drain all my water. I also shut all seacocks. I have a 2 way seacock on my raw water intake for the engine. It pulls from a separate hose in position 2, that I can drop into an anti-freeze jug. So I run anti-freeze through it after every winter sail. The position stays until I arrive for my next sail, open the raw water, draw as I need the motor, and rewinterize when I'm done.

End of season I empty the blackwater tank, and throw some anti-freeze in it, then don't use it the rest of winter. I also drain hot water tank and run anti-freeze throughout the boat until all faucets run pink. I flush the head through several times with anti-freeze then don't use the head the rest of winter. If for some reason I do use the head, we re-winterize (and have to empty it).

The winterize after use method has been used on my boat on this lake for the last 20 years that I know of. Is it necessary? probably not.
I do use a "dehumidifier" that is basically a 35 watt heater, that I run all winter. It usually stays about 45-55 degrees below all winter because of that. I have however had times when someone has tripped the breakers at the club and I've gone days with no heater. I never worried much about freezing due to the work above.

I was just sailing yesterday with whitecaps and great winds (and I agree summer never had wind). Yep I winterized the motor after this sail.
Water Sky Boat Watercraft Naval architecture
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Excellent advice, and I appreciate it.
 

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Most of the posts say "generally" in them somewhere. For example, one fellow said it seldom got cold on Smith Mountain Lake, but I remember walking on one of the coves when I was in college near there (Blacksburg). We had many cold snaps, once where it did not rise about 10F for several days, and then got cold at night. This was easily 30 degrees below the norm. Pipes sometimes break in New Orleans.

You need to be looking at the 10- to 20-year record when you plan on winterizing, because once it gets cold, there is generally nothing you can do about it (the water has already started to partially freeze).

I would ask the guys that have been there 20 years.
 

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I sail all year, and it freezes here, but my outboard drains and I winterized everything else. Same with the cruising cat I had--we flushed with AF mix in the winter. Most winters, not that cold... but once in a while.
 

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PDQ I come from NE PA (Wallenpaupack), frozen lakes mean something different to me than a shallow corner being frozen. We would ice boat on our lake, and drive cars onto them in the winter in NE PA. Presently my boat (not me) has spent the last 20+ years on SML, its not ever frozen in its slip (see definition prior sentence), and I'm in a colder climate than the OP. BTW Blacksburg, higher elevation and traditionally (on average) 8-10 degrees colder than SML year round. You'll note, I still winterize my boat though. Replacing a diesel motor is NOT something I'd want to wager against right, hence I hedge my bet? I talked with a Hunter 33 owner, who did NOTHING to his diesel on SML one season, and he lived through a hard freeze and paid the big bill for the engine replacement, so I am NOT advocating skipping winterization (as it can be made into an easy process). The guy who froze his diesel was wagering on a incandescent bulb to keep his motor from freezing . Hard to say if he lost power or it just wasn't enough heat, but there is anecdotal evidence that it is STILL cold enough to ruin a motor here.

While on Lake Norman (NC) as a kid, it was my job to re-winterize the engine, doing essentially the same thing I described above for my father's boat (a US 27 with a volvo inboard raw water cooled diesel). We also winterized the water system, and head in a similar way. Again that was Lake Norman (NC) which is substantially warmer than SML, and probably colder than the area the OP is in. I wouldn't bet my motor on it even there.

For my own comfort level, I'd likely have to either live in South Texas or FL before I'd take the chance of not winterizing my boat. Too much $ at stake for a couple minutes work at the end of a sail.
 

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I have boats that winter in the water in New Bern, NC and on Watauga Lake in NE Tennessee. Both get winterized. The dockmaster in New Bern (where I am now, among other things, winterizing the boat) said, "You are making a bet, $10,000 to $10. You just don't know if this is THE year."

On January 21, 1985 Tricities Airport (Bristol, Kingsport, Johnson City) hit it record low of -23°F, and I am sure that it was colder up on Watauga Lake. We live on Patrick Henry Lake (two lakes down river) and although it "never" freezes, it froze all the way across. TVA had substations dropping out due to overloads. We lost electricity at our house for days. A heater on the boat would have been of no use without electricity. That year my winterization efforts saved me enough time and money to pay for a lifetime of winterizing boats.

A quick Google search shows Chattanooga hit -10°F that day. Chattanooga Climate Page
 

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I boated in Texas, that believe it or not had several extreme cold below freezing days several times in the last decade.

I never winterize because most years it would be a waste.

If I hear of unusual freezing temperatures on the news, I take a few days off work, and setup a (supervised) ceramic space heater in the salon, and open all doors, and hatches, including bilge hatches.

Close seacocks, and monitor plumbing, adjusting space heater as needed to keep everything not frozen until the cold passes.

Running engines a few minutes, (reopen seacocks first), keeps things warm.

then when temps go back above freezing, turn everything off, unplug space heater, and go back to town.

It only happens once or twice a year, right?
 

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though call
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Space heaters have a few problems:
  • Can burn the boat down. Has happened to people I know. Supervision can solve that... but is that easier than winterizing?
  • Power can fail during cold stretches (ice storm). Winterization should be passive. I don't have enough fingers and toes to recount the number of facities that reported burst pipes when the power went out.
  • Marinas generally have rules against unattended heaters. Your insurance policy may have an exclusion (mine does) and not cover space heaters.
  • Note that many or most insurance policies do NOT cover freeze related damamge, including consequential sinking at the dock.
 

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IMHO, antifreeze is cheap insurance. I winterized my boat a few weeks ago because of a cold snap, knowing that I'd have to blow it out for an oil change and have to winterize again.

Some years ago, hopeful to go boating late in the season, I waited too long to winterize and a real cold snap came. Not only was I in a panic to get the boat winterized, most places were sold out of anti-freeze. I finally found the anti-freeze and winterized the boat in the cold weather. Miserable job.

I have two neighbors who had freeze damage in their engines from no or improper winterization. They spent portions of the next boating seasons getting repairs done and hassling with insurance companies.

Granted, it always get below freezing here at some point, but if it were me, I'd splurge on the anti-freeze and sleep soundly at night.
 

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Was it 2019 it got so cold in Texas they lost power for days? Wonder how many engines needed replacing after that.
I have my drains lubricated and exercised for ease of use. It only takes a few minutes to winterize the engine. Cheap insurance. I don't fill the engine with antifreeze but pour it in until some drains out and I leave the drains open all winter.
 

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I'm off Pamlico Sound, in the water year 'round. It's rare to see extended freezing temperature even this far north. Most winters there's no need to do anything other than leaving a low-wattage heater (I use a Caframo dehumidifier) running continuously in the cabin with the engine compartment, water lockers and bilges open. If several days of unrelenting temps below 32F are forecast, I run to the marina, put on an engine block heater, blow out the water lines, and run antifreeze through the head. The boat's never taken any damage.
 

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I sailed throughout the winter in NC, so winterizing wasn’t practical. I use a small west marine heater during extreme cold stretches. I was extremely careful where I placed it (on top of the stove) and plugged in to a GFCI protected outlet, set on lowest power. Since water doesn’t freeze there (except a thin layer), as long as the inside stays above 32°F I was safe.
 

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This is my first year with a real sailboat - a 31' with a Yanmar 3ym20. I live in southeast TN and we get freezing temps but usually only for a few hours at night. By the next day temps are almost always above freezing. We may have a 3 - 4 day period during the winter when temps stay below freezing. It can be 30 one day and 55 the next.

Do I need to winterize my engine/exhaust? I have a composting head and the water tank is empty. I'd like to take the boat out all winter randomly - it's on a lake right now, and the best wind is in the winter here. Summers are usually dead calm.

Thanks
I used tis magnetically attached engine block heater from Amazon last Winter. It is supposed to turn On when temperature gets close to freezing. Mine stays On. Anyway it protects the engine from freezing.
Complete Tractor 3009-1000 Magnetic Heater, Black
Visit the Complete Tractor Store
4.4 out of 5 stars 15 ratings







Price:$65.19
 

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My boat is in west Tennessee on Pickwick Lake. Everyone around here uses a cabin heater, and thats about it. The water temp doesnt usually get below 40. I use the caframo marine heater. It has a keep from freezing setting that works great. But, last season, ahead of that big winter storm last Feb, I winterized the engine in case the power went out. But, two weeks later I was sailing. I dont plan to do any winterizing again unless we get another storm with super cold temps predicted.
 
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