With the notable weather change moving into the cooler time of the year, we have come up with some winter boating tips to help you get the most out of your boating during this time. Feel free to call us if you have any questions about maintaining your boat during the winter months.
Leave your battery on a trickle-charge. During the cold months when boats may sit for a few weeks at a time in cold weather, dead or weak batteries are common.
Make sure yours stays strong, by putting it on a one-amp trickle-charge at all times. Simple inexpensive solar chargers are great for this job. Some outboards may require up to 100 amps to turn them over and get them to fire. The down time between uses in the winter can stretch from days to weeks so a “smart” marine battery charger that will maintain the charge at full between outings and shut off when the batteries are topped off is worth its weight in gold. A smart charger constantly reads the charge level on the boat’s batteries and trickles power to them only as needed so it will not overcharge them. If you do not have a smart onboard charger, we recommend you disconnect the power wire from the negative terminal of the battery so their can be no current drained from the battery between uses.
Keep in mind, however, that batteries don’t need a draw to make them lose their charge. They’ll discharge over time all by themselves.
Dress to be warm as you can alway remove it if you get hot. If you get wet you’ll need to warm up fast, remember that hypothermia is the number-one killer of outdoor activities during the colder months. Carry pocket warmers, an extra change of clothes, a thermos filled with a hot drink or soup, and other forms of heat which you can pump into your body.
Cold weather boaties should try float-coats. These are heavy-duty jackets with foam floatation built into the body and arms, and they not only keep you afloat, they’re also surprisingly warm. In fact, a high-quality float coat provides just as much warmth as most heavy winter jackets. That means you won’t have to put on a puffy parka and then try to cram yourself into a traditional life vest—a common cause of cold weather discomfort.
For wind chill bring along ski goggles. Regular sunglasses won’t give your eyes any protection from biting-cold wind, but a pair of ski goggles will keep your eyes from tearing up while you cruise.
Fuel and fluids:
When the weather gets cold engine fluids get thicker. This is why it’s important to test and change old engine oil, even if you’re not boating as regularly as you would in the summer. Stick to your regular boat service schedule, and if you are taking her off the water, make sure you drain old fuel, then check there’s no water in the engine when it is replaced.
Rust builds up easily on vessels this way!
If the fuel is fouled by water created by condensation, or the ethanol in the fuel breaks down because the boat is not getting used frequently enough, chances are you’re not going anywhere. Winter weather can accelerate the potential for both problems. Extremes of cold followed by short windows of warmer weather cause increased condensation, and long periods between use gives the ethanol in the fuel the opportunity to destabilise the petrol. When it breaks down, it can gum up your filters.
To prevent these problems, start by installing new fuel/water separators and filters before the cold weather sets in, and keep extras aboard in case you experience any related problems on the water. Most important of all is to add fuel stabiliser to the tank every time you fuel up. Properly used, it keeps your fuel fresh for up to a year or more.
Bookmark BOM on your computer, compared with many other places around the world, Australia’s winters are mild. This means there are more than a few windows of time when a boat can hit the water. It may be a bit colder than summer, with a good waterproof coat and smart planning, you can still enjoy your favourite sport in the world.
We recommend checking the Bureau of Meteorology website (BOM), as this is the most reliable weather source in Australia.
For more information on seeing yourself up for the colder months contact us at North Coast Boating.