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Winterizing in the Chesapeake

2668 Views 8 Replies 9 Participants Last post by  painkiller
This will be my first winter in a climate that can have freezing temperatures. I have studies most of the threads and think I got a fairly good grip on the concept. I will leave her in the water this winter while the bottom paint still looked OK when I had her out just 3 months ago for a prop change.

Running antifreeze though engine, Air conditioner, head/holding tank, by removing in-feed hoses and sucking antifreeze through until it comes out at the other end makes sense.

But it still leaves the question open to what happens to the in-feed lines from the seacock to the strainer? I was planing to take the hoses off at the strainer for the antifreeze infusion. was I wrong with that assumption?

Some threads are talking about non-toxic antifreeze for the freshwater tank and system (hoses faucets). I assume that's not the typical car/RV antifreeze. Where would I get it and would it harm my aluminum freshwater tank?

What's about canvas (bimini/dodger) and sails (roller furled jib and stay-sail and full battened main in stack-pack). I have the convenience to have my boat where I can see it from my apartment so I could take care of snow when needed.

I assume, in Annapolis it should be OK to lave the batteries (5 AGMs) on the boat unless a new ice-age will start this year ( I hope we are still a couple decades away from than ;) )

I know for many of you this is just routine. I have been only a warm climate sailor so far and this will be my first winter.

Any good suggestions are appreciated
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I usually just close the intake seacock, then pour anitfreeze into the stainer while running the motor. WM sells the non-toxic stuff. I always use the -100 F stuff in case it gets diluted during the process (from pockets of water in the motor). I think the water between the seacock and stainer doesn't freeze solid because it's close to the warmer water under the boat. A little ice in there wont hurt anything. It only a solid hard freeze that will break things.

I don't add any antifreeze to the water or waste tanks. I use an air compressor to blow water out of the fresh water lines because it can hard to get the antifreeze out of the tanks and lines.

I fill up the diesel tank and add a biocide and stabilizer like Pri-D.

The batteries will be fine if you can keep the charge up (with either shore power or a small solar panel. If the batteries discharge they can freeze which will be the end of them.

Everyone has a slightly different approach to winterizing, but my methods have always served me just fine here on the Chesapeake.

You would be smart to check your insurance documents. Some exclude damage from freezing and some do not. If yours does get a a new policy.
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Some tips

I would remove all canvas and sails unless you plan to sail over the winter. As far as anti-freeze, do not uses the traditional car anti-freeeze on anything that is in contact with potable water systems. West Marine, Faucetts, or a hardware store will have a non-toxic grade. For Annapolis, -50 F should be fine. Drain all the water first, then pour some AF in the water tanks and head and pump through the lines.

Once you winterize the motor, for the Raw water intake, close the seacock, pull out the sea strainer basket an pull out as much water from the strainer glass. Use a turkey baster to get as much as you can. Once as much water is out, fill it back up with AF, and replace the strainer. Keep the seacock closed and the gentle rocking of the boat will mix the AF with whatever residual water may be left in the line.

Since you are having the boat remain in the water, you need to keep the batteries on, for the bilge puBmp, unless you have AC power available at the dock.

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A trick I was taught by an old boat mechanic farther north[a place where only risk-takers leave their boats in all winter] was to remove hose directly above all underwater valves then attach short hose,pucker up and blow-while you open and close valve. This, according to him, purged the valve body of water that could freeze. Not sure if it really works, but I do it anyway. Some valves have drains built in, look for a small bronze plug near base.
Where in annapolis do you keep your boat? I am on back creek and would be glad to go over what I, and all of my slip neigbors do to winterize. I usually don't do it until the last weekend in November, but it depends on the temps. I have not seen any ice on the water in back creek until after Christmas the last 5 years. Will you have a bubbler under or near your boat?
Years ago i used to use cheap vodka in the water system. It was cheaper than the antifreeze at West Marine. Never set the boat on fire. I also left a small space heater in the middle of the saloon floor to avoid mold formation. Also remember to leave all the cabinets and drawers open. My current boat has Crusaire heat pumps. There is an automatic setting that turns on the unit periodically to dehumidify the interior. Don't use it as we leave for St.Maarten in 2 weeks.
I had a water maker the Po had stored with vodka, all the o-rings melted I have not fixed it yet.
Depending on your boat model, you may need to consider the stuffing box in your winterization schedule. My Beneteau has a dripless that you can't winterize, so I end up hanging a light bulb on a timer above it to keep it warm.

For the engine raw water intake, I usually pull the hose off the seacock and stick it in a bucket of the pink anti-freeze. Then I run the engine until I see pink coming out the exhaust. It's a little less convenient than the strainer technique, but it doesn't require a turkey baster. I do the same thing for the raw water system of the air conditioner.

For the fresh water systems, I generally use the pink anti-freeze and I flush the entire system (both tanks and the water heater) about 5 times in the spring before using. The water doesn't taste too bad then. Just be careful to keep the water heater OFF until you've flushed all anti-freeze out of it, or you'll taste it forever (so I hear). I might install a bypass this year to keep the water heater out of the fresh water circuit when winterizing. We'll see.

Someone else mentioned removing sails and canvas from the boat. I'd also recommend removing cushions or at least tipping them up to get air flow under them. And then leave a bunch of those little water absorption buckets around.

Then when the wife is driving you nuts over the winter, go out to the boat to "work on it". Bring a thermos of Irish coffee. Hot chocolate and Malibu is also nice. Enjoy the nice, quiet marina/boatyard.
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