* These procedures have been used for many years for various boat in eastern Ontario
where boats are hauled and covered in winters with temperatures as low as -35C.
- Pump out holding tank. Pump non-toxic antifreeze from the head to clear water in hoses and dilute remaining liquid.
- Icebox, head, water tank, hot water tank, holding tank: drain; pump or pour non-toxic antifreeze into any place water might remain. Leave icebox lid open.
- Bilge: remove all water with a sponge. Pump non-toxic antifreeze through bilge pumps and hoses. Freezing can destroy wet gaskets and seals.
- Pour antifreeze into any deck/cockpit drains with "S-traps". You will also need to cover the boat to stop water getting into these and freezing, causing that "sinking feeling" next spring!
- Remove sails, secure running rigging, slacken shrouds.
- If removing mast, remove boom, disconnect wiring, remove instruments.
- If mast is stored on deck, tie it down securely, and support it well.
- Removed, coil, and store wire lifelines.
- If using a winter cover, remove or pad the stantions, railings and other chafe spots.
- Cover exposed gear or rigging that can be damaged by ice.
- Winterize the engine according to the manual.
- For an external cooling system with a heat exchanger, run engine (briefly) with intake hose (from the seacock) in the jug of non-toxic antifreeze until the coloured liquid appears out the stern (save it for proper disposal). Then reconnect the hose.
- Fill fuel tank and add fuel stabiliser. Condensation can contaminate fuel, which can contribute to mechanical failure of the engine.
- Check fuel filters, impeller, etc.
Storing lead acid batteries on board:
Since "good" batteries that are fully charged will discharge very little at subzero temperatures, they are usually safe to leave in the boat over winter in cold climates. In 30 years of winterizing boats in eastern Ontario, our batteries dropped as low as 12 volts by spring, but did not suffer damage - that's just our experience.
Batteries can freeze and crack if their volage drops too low. A weak battery will discharge more quickly than a new one. A good battery will also discharge faster in warm weather (or indoors) and needs regular charging. In freezing weather, a fully charged battery should discharge slowly.
To store batteries onboard, charge them fully to 13.5 volts then test each battery's condition with a simple load test. Switch to each battery by itself and turn ib a few 12-volt items (stereo and 1-2 lights). If a volt-meter across the battery terminals immediately drops below 13 volts the battery is weak and should be removed. If the battery passes this test, label the cables and disconnect them. A battery box plus a battery compartment liner is double insurance to prevent battery acid from spilling if the battery should still manage to crack.
- Paper (charts, books), foam and fabric (cushions, lifejackets) can
be left on board if they are clean and there is good ventilation around them (hang up life jackets)
- Make sure your boat is rodent-proof. Rodents can destroy foam cushions, fabric, paper towels and kleenex to make nests. If you use chemicals such as Moth Balls to deter pests, put a reminder by the entry to remove them and air the cabin out before anyone is allowed to enter.
- For ventilation, leave dorades, vents and portholes with rain shields open. Leave a small opening in the boat cover at each end.
- Open locker doors and hatch covers.
- Prop up upholstery cushions. Clean fabric won't mildew if ventilated.
- Wipe down interior fibreglass and wood with dilute bleach (with good air flow).
- If any items grew mold, and diluted household bleach cannot be used, try cleaning with 'bleach for the unbleachables' or Oxy-clean. For mouldy upholstery consult a dry-cleaner first.
Remove and Store
- Dingy and motor
- Fuels, propane
- Food and drink (80 proof alcohol doesn't freeze but attracts thieves)
- Life jackets and fabrics, unless well-ventilated
- Fabrics or paper that rodents can access
- Built-in instruments and stereos can be left on board.
- Anything portable and valuable (attracts thieves)
- Masthead instruments and lights
- Sails, covers, bimini
- ...any fabric that can mildew, or has previously had mould
After the boat is on land:
- Pour antifreeze into any deck or cockpit drain hoses with water traps (S-loops). Ice destroys hoses and may cause that sinking feeling next spring!
- Open seacocks to drain water and lubricate
- Cover exterior vents and pipes to block entry of birds and rodents. Openings for lines in the end of a sailboat boom is a favorite nesting place for birds. Small animals can get into exterior exhaust pipes, chewing holes in hoses!