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Ask Capt, Gary

September 28, 2016


Needless to say I get a bunch of questions about winterizing and over the years I’ve gone in-depth with a lot of these, but here’s a short version as we get ready for putting the boats up on the hard. 


Fuel Storage.

Questions about E-10/E-15 are still popping up, as is the move to force that nasty, unproven E-15 stuff on us. Let me wax a little longer on this particular topic, especially for those of you new to boating

Ethanol is a vegetable-based gasoline additive (90 percent of the US output is derived from corn). E-10 is 10 percent ethanol; E-15, 15 percent. The boating industry, engine accessory manufacturers in general and several other recreational groups continue to fight the special interest groups trying to ramrod this stuff onto us. 

Remember MTBE (methyl tertiary butyl ether)? When it was first introduced in the 1970s it was going to be the wonder gasoline additive … but around 2000 it was discovered to be leaching into ground water and was found to be carcinogenic. 

Ethanol has been around a relatively short time at 10 percent solutions. It may be a solution … but it may also be this century’s MTBE. That said …

When you put it up on the hard, put some stabilizer in it. I use ValvTect Ethanol Gasoline Treatment and if not having engine problems proves anything, then, it works. I store my tank full, and unless there’s some sensible way I can access the tank to make sure I got every last bit of gas and sludge out of it, I’m going to continue to store it full. If you use biodiesel remember that they make diesel additives for biofuel, as well. 

Oh … and not storing full one season allowed water to get into the fuel and provided me with nearly an entire June of a bad running motor until I finally realized what the problem was. 



If you can pull them, do so. Clean them, make sure (if applicable) the electrolyte levels are correct, store them in a cool (not cold), dry place. I keep my batteries on “smart” chargers over the winter; this keeps them optimally charged and two-amp warm. You should at least run them on a charger now and again. 



I pull all mine for the winter and store them inside. If you can’t I assume you have an alarm on the boat, correct? Pre-storage is a good time to check connections and whatnot and fix them. Better than finding out you’ve a short during the first trip.



Wash all your canvas and store it dry in a cool, dry place. The work’ll save you money in the long run. If you can’t store “glass” flat, lay a towel on it and roll it up around the towel. 



You’re waaaay better off cleaning and waxing everything before you store it, rather than when you’re getting ready. It has to be done on one end of the season or another, so bite the bullet and do it now. You’ll thank yourself in the spring.


Bottom Paint.

If you do use bottom paint, I’d leave that until spring. Since you’ve done all the waxing, you’ll have “plenty” of time. If you’re going to have your bottom painted by a local yard. Make an appointment NOW.

Outboard Storage. Pull the prop, engine down. Period. I do all my plug and oil/water/etc. filter changes in the spring. Your call on that.


I/O and Inboards.

Don’t neglect winterizing because last year — cold wise — was a washout. Winterize your engine properly, and those with larger boats make sure to do your water systems. Blow them clear with compressed air and where necessary anti-freeze them. It’s a good time to clean the heads as well … the cooler air makes it a more “pleasant” experience.


General Storage Tips.

The basics. If it’s being stored in the water, have a bilge alarm. Check ALL through-hull fittings and the hoses and clamps for them. If the boat’s on a trailer, put a hitch lock on the receiver, and it’s a good idea to remove the tires and put the trailer on stands. Failing that, chain the tires to the frame. There are alarm systems for covers and for trailers. Check into them. 



I cover my boat when it’s not in the water. Some people don’t, but personally, with that much dinero invested, why not? You can get a heavy-duty tarp and build a frame, or you can have the boat covered by a pro. The latter is by far the easiest way and it’s not much more expensive than doing it yourself. And if you don’t open the boat in the spring like a four-year old opens a present on Christmas morning, you can get another year (or maybe even two) out of it. Regardless, if your boat’s not on your property, check it regularly.

For a bunch of info on winterizing covering a wide range of topics, go to www.BoatUS.com/winter.

Dress properly (i.e., for weather conditions) if you’re heading out from here on, and remember: from November 1 to May 1, if you’re out in a boat 21 feet or less, you must be wearing a PFD. 

Me? I’m getting ready for scallop season. 

See ya’ on the water.

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