Something that almost all boat owners struggle with is when to start de-winterizing their boats. Start the process too early and you risk an unexpected freeze, wait too long and you miss out on the beginning of the boating season. That begs the question, where is the sweet spot?
Truth be told, there isn’t a tried and true formula for the perfect time to de-winterize. De-winterizing a boat can change from year to year as the weather is different every season. However, there are some steps you can take to ensure that you don’t end up with frozen water in your engine block and burst pipes.
One of the best ways is to check National Centers for Environmental Information for the most up-to-date information on the finicky North Idaho spring weather. NOAA also has a very informative map showing the dates of the last spring freezes averaged out over weather patterns and climatological changes over 30 years. Although this map is a good guide, it’s always important to watch for temperatures dipping into the teens or below zero as they will cause damage more quickly than temperatures barely below freezing.
Depending on the climate in which you live, you can always de-winterize the boat and watch for any potential cold snaps (multiple days below freezing) that would damage your boat. If there seems to be any cold spells coming up, just re-winterize before it arrives. Alternatively, you can de-winterize the boat and run a heater in the engine compartment to keep it from freezing. This greatly extends the boating season. Another handy “homespun remedy” is to place a glass of water on the boat’s trailer. The logic here is that the water in the glass will freeze before the water in the engine block, thus giving you time to act before the engine gets ruined.
These strategies for knowing when to de-winterize hinge on you, the boat owner, being vigilant until the spring months have passed. It’s important to remember that one of water’s remarkable properties is that it freezes at a volume of 10% greater than its liquid state. Thus 10 cups of water turn into 11 cups of ice. There are no pipes or engines built strong enough to withstand the freezing power of water. If you have any doubts about de-winterizing, just wait a little while longer for the weather to get to a point where it stays above freezing at night.
Even before the weather is one hundred percent ready for the boat to be completely de-winterized there are a few things that can be done to prepare for the coming days on the water. Air out the cabin, it’s been sitting all winter long and has had plenty of time to build up strange smells. Return linens, sheets, towels, and anything else that may have been moved off the boat for the winter months. You can also check the boat for any potential exterior repairs that may need to be made. Double-check all the safety equipment. You can also take this time to inspect your trailer lights, frame, spring, and suspension. Take the time when it feels like winter will never be over and make a list of things that need to be done before the boat can actually go back in the water.
If there are any other questions check out hagdonemarine.com, or call (208) 664-8274 for service. Happy boating!