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How To Store Your Boat In The Water For The Winter

Updated: Dec 3, 2018

Protect your boat from damage with proper dockline arrangements and fenders.

Whenever the boat is stored in the water, it's in a pitched battle to keep out all the water surrounding it, and that battle gets considerably more difficult when ice might damage a thru-hull or bilge pump, when the electricity might go out causing batteries to go flat, and when snow buildup in the cockpit might submerge above-waterline fittings. If you are going to leave your boat in the water, make sure you pay careful attention to the following areas as well as to your battery.

Thru-Hulls And Other Below-Waterline Openings

If the boat must be left in the water, all thru-hulls, except those for cockpit drains, have to be protected by closing all seacocks and gate valves. If your boat has thru-hulls below the waterline that can't be closed, it should be stored ashore for the winter. Raising and refurbishing a boat that sinks is a daunting job that can keep the boat in the repair yard for many weeks over the spring and summer. And all thru-hulls, especially the ones for the cockpit drains, must be double-clamped with stainless steel hose clamps at each end. When water freezes, it expands and will lift a poorly secured hose off a fitting.

After the seacock or gate valve has been closed, remove the hose so that it drains and then use an absorbent cloth or turkey baster to remove any residual water, which can freeze and crack the body. Reinstall the hose immediately and secure the two hose clamps.

Thru-hulls above the waterline are not required to have seacocks and most don't. That doesn't mean that these thru-hulls aren't vulnerable. Ordinary plastic thru-hulls crack and deteriorate in sunlight, but that won't sink the boat until the weight of ice and snow in the cockpit forces the thru-hull below the water. Plastic thru-hulls near the waterline are especially vulnerable and should be replaced with bronze or Marelon.

Removable knotmeter impellers and depthsounder transducers, if any, should be removed and replaced with locking dummy plugs. And if your stuffing box (where the propeller shaft exits the hull) is dripping, adjust the nut until the dripping stops. Check for leaking in the rudder stuffing box(es) if your boat has one.

Exhaust Ports

It is advisable to plug exhaust ports when a boat is stored in the water because if snow piles up