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Assuming these are a foot, maybe more, below the waterline, I'm not sure they are the risk. It's squeezing or carving into the hull or expanding inside waterline thru-hulls that don't have anti-freeze past the closed ball, if any.
I guess I can imagine water in a thru hull that’s a few inches below the waterline getting cracked as the water freezes and expands, but I’ve never heard of that happening. But storing in the water isn’t very common in Maine so my not hearing about it probably isn’t very meaningful. Too bad insurance companies don’t seem to publicize statistics on these types of things.

The place I stored in Maine is at the mouth of the Passagassawakeag River but the water in the harbor is salty enough so it rarely even gets skinned over and with 10’ tides it quickly gets broken up as the edges settle onto uneven ledges and shoreline and then pushed out of the harbor by the tides and current. But about 30 miles up the Penobscot River I’ve seen multilayered, 10’ thick chunks of ice breaking off from the shoreline and floating downstream. So my point is that the climate is only a small part of how much ice will be in a particular body of water, thus we’re talking about 2 harbors one 500 miles north of the other, and it’s the more southerly one that occasionally freezes over thick enough to walk on. So it seems that local knowledge of typical conditions for each harbor is more valuable than any other source.
 

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As far as thru hulls go, when winterizing in water I put an air pump on the inside end of lines attached to thru hulls and close the ball valve as the pump is blowing out. That presumably gets most of the water out of the ball. I then use a turkey baster to put a little antifreeze in the hose so that the thru hull's hose barb at least gets filled.
 

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As far as thru hulls go, when winterizing in water I put an air pump on the inside end of lines attached to thru hulls and close the ball valve as the pump is blowing out. That presumably gets most of the water out of the ball. I then use a turkey baster to put a little antifreeze in the hose so that the thru hull's hose barb at least gets filled.
A better way is to add a T and valve + hose to suck AF into each system (head, AC etc) from a jug with a bottom outlet (I use fridge water dispensers with valves). Open the valves (thru hull closed) and suck the glycol through. Then with just a little left in the jug, turn off the system, open the thru hull, and let the last bit flow out through the valve (the dispensing jug is above the waterline). The CRITICAL part is not the barb, but the cylinder of water that is trapped in the closed through hull. This is what bursts, every time; the side of the valve pushes out.
 

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By the way, it isn't really the seawater that prevents freezing. That only depresses freezing 3.6 degrees. It is whether the marina has sufficient tidal overturn. It is the circulation of deeper water. This is why ice eaters work so well. It is not the motion, it is the overturn. The air is sub-freezing, but the body of the water is not.
 

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A better way is to add a T and valve + hose to suck AF into each system (head, AC etc) from a jug with a bottom outlet (I use fridge water dispensers with valves). Open the valves (thru hull closed) and suck the glycol through. Then with just a little left in the jug, turn off the system, open the thru hull, and let the last bit flow out through the valve (the dispensing jug is above the waterline). The CRITICAL part is not the barb, but the cylinder of water that is trapped in the closed through hull. This is what bursts, every time; the side of the valve pushes out.
I did not quite understand the procedure but I do understand what you are trying to do: get rid of the water inside the hole of the ball.

Wouldn't it be easier to just fill the hose above the sea cock with AF (e.g. in a sink drain, just pour a sufficient amount of AF into the sink) while the sea cock is closed, then open it for a moment (to let the AF start going through the hole in the ball, and then close it, now with AF having replaced the water in the ball cavity?
 

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I did not quite understand the procedure but I do understand what you are trying to do: get rid of the water inside the hole of the ball.

Wouldn't it be easier to just fill the hose above the sea cock with AF (e.g. in a sink drain, just pour a sufficient amount of AF into the sink) while the sea cock is closed, then open it for a moment (to let the AF start going through the hole in the ball, and then close it, now with AF having replaced the water in the ball cavity?
This is what you do...
Close the valve and pour into the sink for example... till it fills the hose and then some..
crack the valve and pour more AF in... it will mix and dilute the saltwater,, and drain into the sea and the hose and valce will have AF protection.

The water is usually above freezing. Freezing when it occurs is usually at the surface.... an inch or two or more when there is a long freeze. But the above freezing water that your hull is floating on will make the hull and sea cocks above freezing temps. The air inside your boat may drop below freezing if there is a long freeze. Don't leave drinks in containers over the winter.
 

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This is what you do...
Close the valve and pour into the sink for example... till it fills the hose and then some..
crack the valve and pour more AF in... it will mix and dilute the saltwater,, and drain into the sea and the hose and valce will have AF protection.

The water is usually above freezing. Freezing when it occurs is usually at the surface.... an inch or two or more when there is a long freeze. But the above freezing water that your hull is floating on will make the hull and sea cocks above freezing temps. The air inside your boat may drop below freezing if there is a long freeze. Don't leave drinks in containers over the winter.
Good, so it looks I have been doing it right (assuming PDQ does not poke a hole in the argument).

As for the thickness of the ice, that depends a lot on the year, at least here in the upper Chessie. Some years it is strictly zero inches (like last year) but I have also seen a full foot of ice in the marina. Mind you, our water is brackish, not like in LIS, and we are talking about creeks and rivers, not the open Bay which I have never seen frozen (though it has happened before my time here). But there is no horizontal movement in our marina (just up and down with the tides), so the ice does not seem to hurt the boat. Except for some minor antifouling that is scraped off right at the waterline, I suppose during the transition period when the boat is no longer trapped in the ice and it can move relatively to the surrounding ice surface.
 

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You guys on the US north east coast have much harder winters than the US north west. Makes me feel like I've got it easy. My answer to the original question. I think he has it figured out just fine. I have seen temperatures in the single digits and winds up to 60 mph here. This for a week or so then the wind stops and it warms to the 20 to 30 degree level. Then rain which makes a mess and you find the new leaks. Now that I'm retired, I can usually get down to the boat and take care of things on a daily basis. I do empty the fresh water tank, drain fresh water hoses, pour RV anti freeze in the drains and toilet bowl. The motor has a block heater that keeps it, the batteries and fuel tank relatively warm. So for normal winter weather as apposed to survival winter weather I think the boats good. I plan to get a dehydrator for the boat soon. Thanks for the reminder.
 

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I did not quite understand the procedure but I do understand what you are trying to do: get rid of the water inside the hole of the ball.

Wouldn't it be easier to just fill the hose above the sea cock with AF (e.g. in a sink drain, just pour a sufficient amount of AF into the sink) while the sea cock is closed, then open it for a moment (to let the AF start going through the hole in the ball, and then close it, now with AF having replaced the water in the ball cavity?
You have the idea. However, that will not work in all cases:
  • Toilet intake has a check valve. You need to insert the T in the intake line BOTH to pull glycol through the pump and to flow back through the valve.
  • Some systems have no easy access point, such as AC. You will need a T and valve anyway.
More info
This is my head intake strainer, T, and hose used for winterizing. The strainer is above the waterline, for safety and easy service.
 

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You have the idea. However, that will not work in all cases:
  • Toilet intake has a check valve. You need to insert the T in the intake line BOTH to pull glycol through the pump and to flow back through the valve.
  • Some systems have no easy access point, such as AC. You will need a T and valve anyway.
Thank you, you bring up good points. Neither of them apply to me, though, my head intake is plumbed into the sink and I don't have AC.

However, going mentally over all my thruhulls, I realized I had overlooked something, or at least I believe so. My method (that I have used for 20 years) has a failure point at the engine raw water intake. I have a strainer at the water line, standard Groco with a glass bowl, which of course I fill with antifreeze, sucked in through a T between the intake and the strainer. However, when I now think about it, I am not confident that when I open the seacock, the water inside the ball is really replaced by AF, because the raw water circuit is essentially a closed circuit (due to the impeller of the raw water pump). So when I open the seacock, nothing is pushing the AF out and into the hole. For that to happen, I need to have an AF column above the waterline that is open to the atmosphere.

Fortunately I have the above-mentioned T between intake and strainer and, furthemore, I already have about a foot and a half of hose attached to it, for sucking in the AF from a bucket. So what I will have to do is, after filling the strainer with AF as usual, to elevate that hose clearly above the waterline, with closed seacock, then fill it with AF, and then open the seacock briefly to let the AF drain through it.

I have never had a problem but perhaps I was lucky. THANK YOU for making me think about it!
 

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Thank you, you bring up good points. Neither of them apply to me, though, my head intake is plumbed into the sink and I don't have AC.

However, going mentally over all my thruhulls, I realized I had overlooked something, or at least I believe so. My method (that I have used for 20 years) has a failure point at the engine raw water intake. I have a strainer at the water line, standard Groco with a glass bowl, which of course I fill with antifreeze, sucked in through a T between the intake and the strainer. However, when I now think about it, I am not confident that when I open the seacock, the water inside the ball is really replaced by AF, because the raw water circuit is essentially a closed circuit (due to the impeller of the raw water pump). So when I open the seacock, nothing is pushing the AF out and into the hole. For that to happen, I need to have an AF column above the waterline that is open to the atmosphere.

Fortunately I have the above-mentioned T between intake and strainer and, furthemore, I already have about a foot and a half of hose attached to it, for sucking in the AF from a bucket. So what I will have to do is, after filling the strainer with AF as usual, to elevate that hose clearly above the waterline, with closed seacock, then fill it with AF, and then open the seacock briefly to let the AF drain through it.

I have never had a problem but perhaps I was lucky. THANK YOU for making me think about it!
If your boat is afloat, it’s in water that’s above freezing, so everything below the waterline that’s in contact with that water is also above freezing, especially if it’s in an enclosed engine compartment with very limited air circulation. If your boat is on the hard, if you open the thru hull, the water above the thru hull will drain out. You say you’ve been doing it a certain way with no problem for 20 years (so have many thousands of others) , and that’s pretty good evidence that your “failure point” doesn’t exist. The only way I can see this becoming a failure point is if you winterized your boat with the thru hull closed and had it hauled out but didn’t open the valve to let the water just above the thru hull drain out. As long as it’s in contact with liquid water, it’s above freezing, and since none of us let our boats become encased in solid ice down to the level of the engine intake thru hull, I don’t think it’s luck that’s got you through the last 20 years with no problems. Even if air temps inside some parts of the boat fall below freezing, your thru hull is in direct contact with an above freezing heat sink so will not freeze. If the thru hull were an inch below your boats waterline it could conceivably be a problem, but not down where engine intakes are located.
 

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If your boat is afloat, it’s in water that’s above freezing, so everything below the waterline that’s in contact with that water is also above freezing, especially if it’s in an enclosed engine compartment with very limited air circulation. If your boat is on the hard, if you open the thru hull, the water above the thru hull will drain out. You say you’ve been doing it a certain way with no problem for 20 years (so have many thousands of others) , and that’s pretty good evidence that your “failure point” doesn’t exist. The only way I can see this becoming a failure point is if you winterized your boat with the thru hull closed and had it hauled out but didn’t open the valve to let the water just above the thru hull drain out. As long as it’s in contact with liquid water, it’s above freezing, and since none of us let our boats become encased in solid ice down to the level of the engine intake thru hull, I don’t think it’s luck that’s got you through the last 20 years with no problems. Even if air temps inside some parts of the boat fall below freezing, your thru hull is in direct contact with an above freezing heat sink so will not freeze. If the thru hull were an inch below your boats waterline it could conceivably be a problem, but not down where engine intakes are located.
You are most probably right. But I will still do the 'belts and suspender' approach I described. It costs me less than 5 minutes and a couple ounces antifreeze...
 

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I'm going to hazard a guess that the majority of boatyards (at least on the Chesapeake) who people pay hundreds to winterize their boats are not worrying too much about backfilling thru hulls with AF for boats staying in the water. Not to discourage anyone from doing it, as I definitely winterize my thru hulls, but maybe it puts the risk in perspective.
 

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You guys got me thinking. I keep my boat in water. FRESH water on Smith Mountain Lake in VA. It DOES get cold here, but the lake is quite deep, and the rivers that feed the lake move enough that the lake rarely freezes (nobody local remembers it ever freezing).

I use a dehumidifier, poor mans version, which is an "air dryer." Its not really a heater per se as it only gets about 90 degrees, and you can still touch the device. Probably 35 watts? But it does keep it above freezing below all winter, and we saw several single digit mornings here.

Last year all I did was pour about 5 gallons of anti-freeze in the water tank, and pump it through the sink(s) and hot water (I think its a 3 or 4 gallon hot water tank). My through hull for raw water intake is a 3 position (off, raw water, and siphon hose).. I sail in the winter, and when I am done, I throw the throw the through hull over to siphon hose and suck pink stuff through the engine until it spits out pink, then I shut down.

I hadn't thought of the lake supply for the head. I also hadn't thought of the scuppers frankly (which properly criss cross over the stern and technically could have water lying in them for winter). I have however, poured anti-freeze into the galley sink and head sink, then closed the drain through hulls on both, and not used them until Spring.

The procedures I am using were those the former owner showed me, he owned it for roughly 10 years, and the boat is almost 40 years old. Maybe get another 40 out of her? I hope so, love that yammie engine.
 

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I highly recommend you buy one of these and then drain the water heater instead of filling it with antifreeze. In the spring you can simply run your hot water taps until the water runs completely clear then turn off the bypass to refill the water heater. This saves antifreeze and avoids having to flush the water heater of antifreeze by slow dilution. I also sponge or pump any antifreeze out of the main tank below the pickup tube so I'm not diluting it upon refilling in the spring.

 
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