LAKE TAHOE - The US Coast Guard Auxiliary reminds boat owners that freezing temperatures are right around the corner. It is time to make sure you boat is winterized. Here are some steps to consider, and remember that if you're not comfortable performing all the necessary steps, contact your local boat dealer or marina for winterization service.
• Make a list of all the minor repairs you put off during boating season so you can take care of them over the winter.
• Remove as much of your gear as possible. Take home dishes and linens to wash so they'll be clean and fresh for next spring. Take home your fire extinguishers and have them serviced over the winter. Also make sure all your canned and bottle goods that can freeze are taken home.
• This is a good time to give the boat a thorough cleaning. With a lot of gear off the boat it's a good time to clean all the cabinets and lockers, vacuum the carpets and scrub out the bilge.
• Remember to leave the lockers, bins and icebox doors open so air is free to circulate over the winter. Consider using moisture and odor absorbers to control the musty smell that can develop.
• This is a good time to take all your running rigging and lines home or to a Laundromat to wash them out before storing for the winter. After washing make sure you let them dry out and then coil and store in a cool and dry area out of direct sunlight.
• Winterize your engine, cooling and fuel systems according to manufacturer's recommendations. Fill your fuel tanks nearly full to reduce condensation over the winter. Check any fresh water systems and charge with antifreeze if necessary. Also check your through hull fittings are opened, drained completely and then closed.
• If your boat is equipped with a built-in head, make sure you not only flush the head with plenty of fresh water, also make sure you drain the intake lines, macerator and discharge lines with compressed air or pump in an antifreeze solution.
• Make sure you drain your fresh water tanks and blow out all the lines or fill them with antifreeze (non-toxic). Remember the transom shower and any other fresh water fittings or lines.
• Once the boat is hauled out of the water make sure you double check all through hulls are drained, check your shaft, strut, cutlass bearing and propellers. Charge the batteries before disconnecting them.
• Finally, put on your winter covers or have it shrink wrapped. Make sure small openings that would look inviting to small creatures looking for a winter home are covered.
An excellent source of information is the BoatUS website at www.boatus.com/seaworthy/winter/default.asp.
For more information on the Coast Guard Auxiliary, please visit cgaux.org.