It’s common for boaters to think they’ll use their boats all winter but not really do it, he adds. If the boat sits for months on end, fuel systems gum up and cause trouble, particularly if there’s ethanol in the fuel. Cylinder walls develop rust that eats away at the piston rings, causing the engine to lose compression and power. That’s why he recommends having your boat winterized for storage until spring.
Winterizing at a shop like Talley’s involves several steps. Technicians drain and treat the water system with antifreeze, add fuel stabilizer to the gas, and fog the engine with fogging oil that coats the cylinders to prevent rust and lubricates everything for long-term storage. Then they drain the water from the block, manifolds and hoses. After this has been completed, you can’t take your boat out without repeating the whole process. Once you crank the engine and water circulates through, it is de-winterized.
“It’s not a hard job, but you need to know what you’re doing,” says Talley. “It’s best to take your boat to a shop with certified technicians for the particular engine you have.” Talley’s service technicians are certified in both Volvo and MerCruiser, so they can take care of any engine model. Cost for a typical winterizing job is around $150.
These crisp, clear October days make for great boating on the Piedmont lakes. They also mark the annual boater’s dilemma: to winterize or not?
The warmer winters of recent years are leading many boat owners to keep their boats out all winter and enjoy the increasing number of beautiful days on the quieter lakes of winter.
All well and good, says Bill Talley, president of Talley’s Pier 77 Marine at Lake Norman. But take a few steps to prepare for winter and be sure you actually do use your boat at least a couple of times a month.
But winterizing? Here’re the deets: Drain and flush your boat’s water systems with biodegradable antifreeze, and don’t use the water in sinks and toilets until spring, says Talley. Install a permanent or temporary engine room heater that’s up to the job. If it runs on shore power, check often to be sure it’s plugged in and the power isn’t interrupted. “A lot of people hear that you can just hang a light bulb in the bilge, but this is not a good idea,” he adds. “The bulb can burn out or break, and you haven’t done anything to protect your engine from rust. We see a lot of cracked engine blocks resulting from this.”
“Pretty cheap insurance when you compare it with $7,000 or $8,000 for a new engine,” he says. Talley’s has technicians who work at both locations – Highway 21 at Exit 28 and Morningstar Marina at Kings Point – as well as mobile service for dock calls.
Many shops, like Talley’s, will give you a discount on your boat’s annual maintenance service if you have it done at the same time you winterize. “We recommend completing annual service at the end of the season, since it’s better to store an engine with clean oil,” says Talley. If you have had issues with your boat during boating season, this is a good time to address those as well, so when spring comes, you’re ready for boating.
“A lot of people have moved to this area from the Northeast,” Talley says. “They don’t think it gets cold enough here to merit the need to winterize. But it does.”
Preserve Your Boat : Winterize!