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Old 12-06-2013, 11:47 AM   #1
bshillam's Avatar
City: Portland, OR
Country: USA
Vessel Name: Nameless
Vessel Model: 22' Sisu
Join Date: May 2013
Posts: 609
Freezing temps and keeping the boat operational

Just splashed yesterday and wanted to do everything I could to keep the boat unwinterized. I am running a heater at about 50 and leaving the steps to the ER open when moron the boat. I have covered all the vents with insulation to retain heat in the ER and lazerette as the batteries and three holding tanks are under the cockpit. I want to be able to use the boat through the winter including flushing the toilet as I have a four year old and senior father neither of which I would expect to hold their badder. I have searched the net for ideas. From light bulbs under the engines to draping the engines with electric blackets. Didn't care for either of those ideas. So your thoughts, what you do on your vessel to keep her warm and happy would be appreciated.

Highly experienced, positive and motivated helping buyers and sellers navigate the maze of the Real Estate market from start to finish.
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Old 12-06-2013, 12:48 PM   #2
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City: Bellingham
Country: Wa
Vessel Name: Scout
Vessel Model: Grand Banks 32
Join Date: Dec 2012
Posts: 77
We use our boat all year long. For the most part, we do not need to winterize in Bellingham. But, for unusually cold spells like this past we week we do the following:

One of these in the engine room:
One of these in the cabin: gId=-1&storeId=11151&storeNum=50667&subdeptNum=50668&cl assNum=50671
And one of these in the lazarette and in the head: ngId=-1&storeId=11151&storeNum=50667&subdeptNum=50668&cl assNum=50670

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Old 12-06-2013, 12:51 PM   #3
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City: Stoney Creek, MD
Country: USA
Vessel Name: Moon Dance
Vessel Model: 1974 34' Marine Trader Sedan
Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 2,769
Last year I got one of the bilge heaters from these guys:

Year Round Boating with the Xtreme Marine Engine Bilge Compartment Heater

The boat was left in the water all winter with no ill effects. I'm doing it again this winter.
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Old 12-06-2013, 02:02 PM   #4
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City: Everett Wa
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Since the water is about 50 degree no need to winterize below/at the water line. However above the water line is where it gets cold and freezes. So sink drains, toilets, water lines need to be drained and/or pour anti freeze, pink RV stuff down them. If you turn off the domestic fresh water pump the water and open the taps to relieve the pressure. Its equally important to keep things dry as most things can freeze with out damage. If I had a choice between keeping dry or warm, I would choice dry.

Anyway heat at/above the water line.
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Old 12-06-2013, 02:22 PM   #5
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City: Richmond bc
Country: Canada
Vessel Name: Invader no1
Vessel Model: Kishi Boat works
Join Date: Mar 2012
Posts: 640
Just an FYI

Just something to be aware of that I see often. Water in the hull works with the ambient water temps. It will not freeze. But when the bilge pump tries to off load that water it can freeze and plug the through hull.

Stuff happens , and even a small amount of water from stuffing box over a week can result in bad things. Pumps will run even if they cant actualy off load the water.

Just something I watch for when looking around the docks. These pics are from a few years ago but usually I deal with the issue and for go pics.

Just a thought. keep the bilge dry or as dry as pos.
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Old 12-07-2013, 12:22 PM   #6
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City: Saltspring Island
Country: BC, canada
Vessel Name: Retreat
Vessel Model: C&L 44
Join Date: Nov 2007
Posts: 3,199
I have had a boat in the salt water every winter since 1977, in or near Vancouver, so comparable to Bellingham.
I used a light bulb (adequate, but no high level of confidence) in the ER in my first small sailboat.
Since moving to a larger sailboat, equipped with a charger and a hot water tank, both in the ER, I have left both on, and that has kept the ER above ambient temps, always above freezing. Since moving to a 44' trawler 20 yrs ago, I have supplemented with a 1000w space heater at each end of the boat to keep mildew at bay. I keep those on their lowest possible setting. I doubt those heaters contribute to any warming of the water pipes, tanks, etc, as most of that is in the ER.
As a result, my boat is always less than 5 minutes from being ready to go. I have never even thought of buying anti-freeze for anything other than the engines. Until reading OFB's post I have never heard of anyone in these waters freezing their bilge pump lines. But bear in mind, OFB is in fresh water, so if you are in fresh water, his experience will be more relevant to you than mine.
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Old 12-07-2013, 03:34 PM   #7
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I've been moored in Anacortes for over 35 years. Other than covering the engine room vents and opening the sink valves (with the pump off) to drain the water back down to the water tank), there is nothing else that is really necessary.

If your water tank is not in the engine room or below the boats waterline, then you might want to drain it. In our area, the bilges and engine room are heated by the surrounding saltwater and won't freeze (even the two gallons of distilled water in my engine room stays liquid.)

However, any diet pop on the boat should be removed or stored in the engine room. Otherwise, it freezes like a rock and bursts. Since there is no sugar it's just water and food coloring, it freezes at 32 degrees even in the fridge.

If your boat is on the hard, then you must take further precaution against freezing.
Larry B
Careful . . .I Have a Generator and I'm not afraid to use it !
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Old 12-07-2013, 04:59 PM   #8
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City: Hampton Bays, N.Y.
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Vessel Model: 1981 49' Grand Banks Classic
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If You have an electric water heater on board that has the connection routing water thru your fresh water cooling system, with it on you will see the slow heat transfer to the engine block.
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Old 12-08-2013, 01:51 PM   #9
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It looks like the water is a little warmer in the PNW than in my neck of the woods. But it doesn't actually freeze here, either.

My boat was in the water all last winter, with a 1500W electric heater in the engine room.

We had one record storm which dumped tons of heavy, wet snow on it, collapsing the main arch of the bimini. This happened right after I bought the boat, and before I could remove the bimini. In the future I'd either reinforce the poles with 2x4s, or remove the bimini and put a frame and tarp over the flybridge.

The biggest thing I worry about is multiple freeze-thaw cycles. Melting snow and rain collect in drains, walkways, and in any small crevices, screw holes, etc. When it re-freezes, the water expands, making the cracks and crevices bigger.

Around here, some people tape up hatches and vents, and cover side decks and cockpits to keep the majority of the snow out.
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Old 12-08-2013, 04:48 PM   #10
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Anyone thinking tarps may want to think again..I have rarely seen them last...usually they shred and flog the little grommets into something expensive...

A little shrink wrap is well worth the expense....and even then it has to be done will last where tarps usually don't unless you take the care to get them as tight as a good shrink wrapping.

My friend with a 55 Viking MY is keeping his boat in the water this year as the last 2 years he had significant damage from poor shrink wrapping techniques.
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Old 12-08-2013, 07:01 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by psneeld View Post
Anyone thinking tarps may want to think again..I have rarely seen them last...usually they shred and flog the little grommets into something expensive...
You are correct, usually that's what happens. But that's because usually, the person who put up the tarp didn't know a few key things.

I've had the same tarp for at least 5 year now, it may be 6, I've lost count.

Even if you buy a new tarp every year, it's cheaper than shrink wrap. But that's not why I started tarping instead of shrink-wrapping. The marinas never seem to get around to shrinking all the boats until well after the first snow, and they always do some damage putting up the frames. Muddy boots on white vinyl, supporting the whole frame on a fragile radar arch, ripping out
snaps, it's always something. Here's what I've learned:

Avoid the cheap blue tarps. I've had good luck with the silver ones, but there are even better ones.

You need to make an "A" frame, with steep sides, with a ridge pole as straight as possible. Sailboaters who've un-stepped the mast have an advantage here. Flybridges make it much harder, sometimes you need two main ridge poles.

Use one big tarp if you can, two if you have to. Leave no flat spots or protruding edges (like railings) that will allow rain or snow to form pools. Once a little pool starts, it grows until the whole tarp is sucked in. Fill in between the "rafters" with small stuff (clothesline works.)

But most important, every corner and edge has to be TIGHT. The slightest amount of flapping will rip out the grommets, and shred the tarp. I've had good luck with filling gallon jugs with water, and hanging them from the grommets. They do tend to bang around in the wind, but they keep everything tight. Lately, I've been buying shock cord (elastic line) and lacing it up like a shoe, pulling as tight as I can each time.

It can be done, but you have to do it right.
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Old 12-08-2013, 07:43 PM   #12
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City: Concrete Washington State
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This is the McFarland's Flotel about 3 miles down Thorne Bay from town. Looks quite different in winter. As long as the bay wasn't chocked w thick ice we would run down to the Flotel for dinner at Christmas and on Thanksgiving. All our runs w Willy were fine but the first year we went w another guy that had an aluminum OB boat about 25' long. On the return trip it was about 0 degrees and blowing 50. I scraped the inside of the windshield of the unheated cabin constantly as we made our way back to town. That was a cold boat ride. Willy was of course toasty warm.

Re the thread we kept Willy fully operational every winter. Worried about power outages of course but one never lasted long enough to be threatening.
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North Western Washington State USA
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Old 12-09-2013, 06:11 AM   #13
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The hassle with not fully winterizing the boat is you are chancing sinking should the power plug get pulled.

If the boat is fully winterized any power outage will not be a hassle.

As a 22+ year liveaboard , I can from experience state the power can go down , days or even weeks at a time.

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