Winterise or pay the piper!

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Sadly, the sunny summer months are coming to an end and the time for winterising and storing our boats is almost upon us. Many boaters discount the significance of properly preparing their boats for the winter months and ensuring that effects of storage and weather do not impede on the longevity of their craft – often with costly consequences. Here are some tips on how to minimise damage by winterising!

Winter weather can wreak havoc on your boat if you don’t make the necessary preparations. Corrosion, cracked blocks, blown fuses, and ruined electronics are just some of the consequences that await you if you don’t. Without the joy of boating the winter is long and agonising and when the first day of spring dawns we all want to get our boats on the water as quickly and painlessly as possible. The only way to ensure that your first launch is effortless and hassle-free is to take care before winter sets in.

Freezing, corrosion and fuel degradation are some of the biggest threats to your engine during winter. Make sure to flush your motor with fresh water! Idle the engine while flushing and ensure that it doesn’t overheat until the water flushes clean. Lift the engine cover to check for loose or frayed wires or connections, as well as the state of all hoses and belts. Replace hoses if they seem to be soft or cracked and adjust the tension on belts if necessary. Also, touch up any peeled or scratched paint on the engine to avoid corrosion and don’t forget to change the oil filter. Store your engine in a vertical position to drain excess water, as even a little amount of water left in the engine can cause huge damage.

If you have an inboard or sterndrive, refill with propylene glycol antifreeze to prevent ice pockets from forming – which can crack the block. In order to protect engine internals against corrosion and rust it is essential to spray two-stroke oil down the carburettor while the engine is running. It is important to shut off the fuel supply, either by pinching off the fuel line or with the fuel valve and then burning up the remaining fuel in the fuel-injection system. When the fuel has burnt out, remove the spark plugs and pour two-stroke oil into the cylinders. Make sure the oil is well dispensed by rotating the engine a few times and then replace the plugs.

In four-stroke engines it is imperative to remove the carburettor drain plug to drain the fuel as the jets in the carb are usually small enough for only a tiny amount of fuel to cause blockages. Then, it’s a good idea to wedge a block of wood between the prop and anti-ventilation plate and then to take the prop off and check its condition and that of the hub and splines. Changing the water pump’s impeller is also a guaranteed way of ensuring that your water pump won’t fail next season.

Vinyl interiors are very sensitive to winter air, whether dry or humid. Consult your owner’s manual with regards to the appropriate cleaning agents and protective gels and sprays to use; these can prevent your vinyl from drying out or cracking.

Worse than dry, cold air, is the wet winters we enjoy here in Cape Town. Moisture can cause mould and mildew to creep in. Fortunately there are chemical dehumidifiers available on the market that pull excess moisture from the air as well as mould sprays that will help combat these unwelcome guests…


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