As August ends and September begins, it's still summer weather in most parts of the United States. The kids may be back in school, but weekend trips to the lake to enjoy the sun are still a possibility, and marinas everywhere are seeing an increase of traffic Friday through Sunday as people desperately cling to the joy they get from great boating weather.
Unfortunately, here at PDB we sometimes must focus on the unpleasant topics when it comes to boating, and Old Man Winter definitely falls into that category for me. I love the summer, and a day waterskiing and tubing with my friends and family is hard to beat. And as much as I'd like to ignore the creeping reality of ice and snow, they are coming, and ignoring the needs of your boat in the face of such an onslaught can have permanent repercussions.
Luckily, we are here to do all the legwork for you. We've compiled a list of winterization tips and techniques to help your `toon or deck boat work as well as it does now next spring when you take the cover off.
For starters, don't use your bimini top as protection against foul weather. A bimini top is designed strictly to protect against sun and spray from the water, and ice and snow will damage it. In addition, a bimini top will likely let water in, causing even more damage to your interior, which is a scenario no one wants to be involved in.
Instead, look at a shrink wrapping service like the one offered from Dr. Shrink (www.dr-shrink.com). Dr. Shrink is a full service for your pontoon or deck boat, a full-circle supplier of premium shrink wrap and all installation accessories. They are widely noted for innovative products, prompt service and experienced application advice. For more information, you can call 800-968-5147 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you are interested in building your own cover, I can suggest Kover Klamps, which are a patented, heavy-gauge, steel zinc-plated clamping device specifically designed to hold tubing at any angle and adjustment. To put it simply, they are a quick, easy way to build a winter cover frame for your boat.
Visit them at www.koverklampframes.com.
Another area where boaters get into trouble during the winter months is the battery. I spoke with Kalyan Jana, the business development manager at EnerSys, maker of the ODYSSEY marine battery, for his thoughts on what it takes to winterize one of his products.
"If you leave your battery connected in your boat all winter, it is dealing with what are called parasitic loads," Jana said. "These are small loads on the battery, and will cause damage over a long period of time."
Jana clarified that leaving your battery connected (and unused) for a couple of weeks is not a problem, but over the weeks and months of winter, the toll rises and you may have an unusable battery in March.
ODYSSEY batteries utilize thin plate pure lead technology, and what is called an absorbed glass mat (or AGM) to make winterization a snap. Just fully charge the battery, and then disconnect it. The batteries are rated to handle cold up to -40 degrees Fahrenheit, so most people can just leave it on the boat, stored outside. If you are in a colder climate, Jana recommends putting the battery in a garage or other indoor location. When spring rolls around, just re-connect the battery and you're good to go.
Seal It Up
One small area boaters tend to overlook is problems that come from exposed zippers and snaps. These can easily stick and rip the surrounding canvas and plastic when exposed to the corroding effects of rain, dirt and grime. To combat this, Shurhold has developed Snap Stick lubricant, which is applied directly to the head of a snap, along a zipper or on the barrel of a hinge without causing a mess. As one application lasts up to three months, this is a great solution for winterization. Non-toxic and biodegradable, Snap Stick won't harm fabrics, plastics or metals. Contact Shurhold at 800-962-6241 or visit www.shurhold.com.
You may remember PDB testing Marine Formula STA-BIL in earlier issues. We found it kept tanks of gasoline ready to go all winter, and can recommend it to boaters who aren't interested in draining fuel tanks. This product was designed to fight the effects of ethanol in gasoline, and it helps prevent corrosion, removes water, and cleans the fuel system. STA-BIL is even recommended to be used during the season, for added protection all year long. For inactive boats, this will stabilize and keep fuel fresh for up to 12 months. Call them at 800-367-3245 or visit www.goldeagle.com for pricing.
For those interested in storing their boats in a dedicated facility this winter, look no further than DSL Marine Transport & Services. Founded in 2002 in Waterford, Mich., they began as a part-time pontoon hauling business, but quickly expanded their operation to cover both indoor and outdoor boat storage, boat cleaning and detailing, complete inboard and outboard repairs, shrink wrapping and more. In short, DSL is now a full-service marina, providing a "One Call Does It All" approach for their customers.
Visit them at www.dslmarine.com or call 248-894-0086.
Love The Environment
BoatU.S. (www.boatus.com) has suggestions on how to make sure your winterization efforts are also in harmony with nature. They suggest seeing if you can recycle shrink wrap material for use in next year's process, be sure to use a marine antifreeze (most often pink) instead of harmful automotive antifreeze and collect and save the oils drained from the engine during the winterization process. They also recommend using a wash pad to collect gunk and contaminants from entering the water while washing your boat.
Following these tips will ensure your pride and joy remains clean, dry and safe all winter, ready for that first boat trip of the new year.