Keeping Your Boats Head and Sanitation System Odor Free

We all know those smells and how they affect our time on the boat. No one wants to spend quality time working on your boats head (toilet for you land lubbers!) We’d all much rather be on the water enjoying the day.

Head odors can be caused by a number of things. The biggest culprits are; Using raw water for flushing, old permeated hoses, lack of airflow in the holding tank, mixing of waste products, lack of beneficial bacteria in the holding tank, not pumping out the holding tank often enough and mechanical issues with the head.

Compact Electric Head

Unfortunately many of use have an electric flush head that draws raw seawater from a through hull located somewhere on the boat and uses that water to flush the head. This introduces all kinds of bacteria and elements to the sanitation system that can and will cause odors. If you have this setup, there are a few tricks you in order to help keep the smell down.Flush using freshwater once a day. I use the shower head to fill the head and flush it every time I shower on the boat.  Flush or use the head daily, this helps keep the water from becoming stagnant in both the pickup hose and the hoses that lead to your holding tank.  The longer the raw water sits without being oxygenated the more anaerobic bacteria grows and creates odors.  This odor is typically a sulfur like smell. You can disconnect the raw water intake and with proper check valves and anti siphon devices hook the head intake to your freshwater tank. Another option is to replace the electric flush head with a vacuum flush system that uses freshwater only to flush the head. A concern with this set up is contaminating your freshwater system with wastewater from the toilet, either through failure of a check valve or from a siphon created when the water tank is lower than the head. There are industry standards regarding hooking up a fresh water tank to a sanitation system. Another concern with tying into the freshwater system is over using your fresh water for flushing the toilet. In some areas and for some long range cruisers water is an important and expensive commodity. Adding freshwater flush capability will improve many foul odor issues drastically.

High Quality Sanitation Hose

Sanitation hoses are another common area odors originate from. Make sure you have marine grade impermeable sanitation hose installed on your boat. Even impermeable hose will allow odors to leach out after a few years of use. I’ve read recommendations that say to replace your sanitation hose with high quality hose every 4-5 years. Waste sitting in low spots along the hose can and will permeate through the hose. One account I read from a boat owner claimed just replacing the hose eliminated almost all the waste odors from her boat. To test if your sanitation hose is causing odors on your boat wet a clean rag with very hot water and wrap it around a low section of hose and leave it on the hose until it cools. Remove the rag and sniff it. If you smell any bad odors on the rag it’s time to replace the hoses.

The boating community is never short of debate and differing ideas on what works no matter the topic. The next item on our list is a hotbed of debate amongst many boaters. A holding tank with poor airflow will be a hotbed of odors from anaerobic bacteria that thrive in low oxygen environments. To tackle this you want to make sure your vent lines to the holding tank are adequate and unclogged. Vent lines can become clogged from the waste itself when the tank is overfilled or from spiders or other things crawling into the vent and setting up a home. A good charcoal filter on the vent line also helps with odors outside of your boat. Now, the debatable item. A newer trend is to install an aerator pump to the holding tank and aerating the waste 24/7. From what I’ve researched and read most people claim aerating the waste tank eliminates most of the odors emanating from it.  The detractors claim it is unnecessary and a waste of battery power. Either way large 1 inch vent hoses or an intank aerator both will help encourage aerobic bacteria to form and digest the waste in the tank. Aerobic bacteria are good for the health of the sanitation system. Using bleach or other products that kill germs may reduce the level or kill off all the good bacteria in the system.

Anyone that has a composting head will tell you they are great until you mix the urine and feces. Poop by itself in the composting head doesn’t smell all that bad but if you mix urine into the equation you end up with horrible smells. Anyone that has used a camp toilet or composting toilet in years past can relate to the horrible smells. New composting toilet designs keep the pee from the poop. They use a urine diverter to store the urine in a separate detachable container from the main waste receptacle. Installing a composting head in most cases and when used properly will eliminate most head odor issues. I am considering replacing my head with a composting head for these reasons.

Composting Head

Waste shouldn’t be in your holing tank long enough to set up shop and start stinking. Pump the holding tank out frequently and before leaving the boat sit unattended for any length of time. The simple act of having the tank pumped and flushed will drastically reduce odors plus who wants all that stuff sitting around anyhow. After pumping the tank out flush the tank with water a few times and pump it empty. Adding a few capfuls of liquid fabric softener to the tank while washing it out will help make it so waste doesn’t stick to the sides and bottom of the tank.

Marine Holding Tank

A poorly maintained head and tank can also contribute to odors. Duckbill or joker valves need replacing and can be damaged by using household chemicals to clean the head. Seals and tank fitting can leak into the bilge and cause boat wide odors. Check and maintain your head and tank, inspecting the system often. Never use bleach or other caustic chemicals to clean the head or tank as they can breakdown seals and parts. If needed vinegar is a decent alternative to bleach.

How to Let your Children Enjoy Boating

Many of us with kids have found out our children don’t enjoy boating as much as we had hoped they would. To us adults boating is a way to relax and get away from the pressures of everyday life. To our children it can seem like a prison. When I met my girlfriend and her son I had visions of time spent on the boat together enjoying the outdoors and each other’s company for days at a time. After the first boat trip I realized her son didn’t share the same views and being “stuck” on the boat wasn’t his idea of fun.

It seems I projected my views and feelings onto others without taking the time to understand we are all different with different likes and dislikes. When I was a child I wanted nothing more than to be on the water and would do anything to be on a boat traveling and exploring new places. I lived in Florida and spent most of my time growing up either in the ocean with my parents or deep sea fishing with my dad. Those are some of my fondest memories of that time in my life.

We are seasonal liveaboards meaning my girlfriends son stays with us most of the summer on the boat. Over the last few years I’ve learned a few things that work for us to make everyone happy and make boating enjoyable for us. Being in a larger cabin cruiser we miss out on some activities like tubing and skiing but with the help of friends with smaller type appropriate boats we manage to get those activities in.

Some of the things I’ve found that help us are:

This may seem like common sense but it’s a big one. Allow your child’s friends to spend time on the boat with you. We are in a marina that is mostly childless. Occasionally there may be someone with a like aged child around but for the most part we are the only ones with children at the marina. Having one of your kids friends (especially one that is excited about boating!) along for the day or weekend makes for a memorable time that you and your child can remember for years.

Boating to me is a way to unwind, remove technology from my life and meet new people. My girlfriend’s son enjoys XBOX and streaming TV shows. For me I always thought being outdoors and experiencing new things trumped playing XBOX and resisted any type of electronic games on the boat. I installed a gaming system on the boat and allowed him to bring his games onto the boat now we will sit and play games together and have a bonding experience where we not only game but talk to each other. If you have no room or electricity for an XBOX or something similar play board games together at anchor or at the dock.

It’s boring sitting and watching the adults talk while underway. Put yourself in your child’s shoes. You may have several adult guests aboard. Some might be indulging in adult beverages, some talking or sightseeing and others operating the boat.  Making your child an active participant in boating is both an educational experience and a fun thing for most kids. We bought a book on tying knots and with short sections of rope practiced until all of us could tie all of the basic knots needed for boating. I also ask for help on lookout and explain the rules of the road for boating and safe operation of the boat and share how important it is to be on watch. When we are underway we discuss the mechanical operation of the boat and things like the gauges and controls so when he is ready he will be able to operate the boat safely and without damaging the systems. When it’s time to clean the boat after a day on the water we all participate in cleaning and washing. It doesn’t seem like much but being included in the operation of the boat and in maintenance kids gain a sense of belonging and responsibility.

On our traveling adventures we try to select marinas with amenities that are child friendly. Boating on the Chesapeake bay we are lucky we can find things our child loves to do like swim in a swimming pool or bike around the marina. We also like to anchor out and swim or float in the bay. I carry a few water games and toys like floats, a football, squirt guns and an underwater camera. All these things are easily stowable and quick to deploy. This year we bought kayaks to use at the marina and to take with us and we each have our own kayak we paddle around in. We also have a small dingy that he gets to operate (he is the legal age in our state) while we are in it with him. The smiles and joy that we get while putting around in the dingy are worth more than gold to me.

Hopefully with some understanding on both sides and with a little work you and your children can enjoy boating together and build lifelong memories that will pass on to future generations.

SOS Distress Light An Alternative To Flares

Flares are an important part of our vessel safety equipment and are required by law.

For boats under sixteen feet you are required to carry 3 day and 3 night flares or 3 combination day / night flares. For boats sixteen feet and larger you are required to carry three hand-held or floating orange smoke signals and one electric distress light or three combination day / night red flares; hand-held, meteor or parachute type. All Coast Guard approved flares and pyrotechnic signaling devices are stamped with an expiration date. If your flares are expired or will expire during the boating season they will need to be replaced! While 3 day / 3 night flares are the minimum it is suggested and prudent to carry more. After a few years of boating this can add up to a significant cost.

 

Weems & Plath a leader in manufacturing technical and navigational instruments has developed an electronic alternative to pyrotechnic flares and signaling devices that is US Coast Guard approved, easily activated, eliminates risk of accidental burns and fires and can be attached to the boat and left unattended while you work to fix what ever problems the boat is having or assist you passengers. The SOS Distress Light is waterproof, has a floatation ring to keep the strobe light above the water, runs for 60 hours on 3 C cell batteries, and can be seen for up to 10 nautical miles. The best part is you don’t have to pay to replace expired flares year after year. The only ongoing cost associated with the SOS Distress Light is replacing the batteries yearly or as needed and carrying an spare set of batteries on the boat. The light comes with an orange SOS distress flag for day time use to meet requirements for day time signaling.

 

Some interesting features of the SOS Distress light are it comes with a lanyard that can be hoisted up a mast or tied to a railing, the handle fits perfectly into a standard rod holder, it works in all weather conditions, it’s so simple to operate even an untrained passenger can turn it on and it floats and keeps flashing even in the water unlike a flare that may not fire after an extended time in the water.

I bought one of these as soon as they came out and were Coast Guard approved. I kept my expired flares on the boat but marked them as “training use only” in order to avoid issues with the Coast Guard safety inspections. It’s never a bad idea to have a back up when it comes to your life or someone else’s. I’m pretty happy with the construction of the light and operation of the light. The only thing I would like to see is a mount sold for it. It takes up about the same amount of space as a small flare kit but it is an awkward shape and doesn’t lay flat or fit into an emergency bag easily. Since it fits into a rod holder you can repurpose a rod holder to store it. This makes a great addition to your Coast Guard approved safety kit.

Controlling Mold and Mildew On and In Your Boat

I have an older 35 foot Chris Craft Catalina that has a few little leaks and because of the way the bilge is designed I always have a little bit of water in the bilge. I recently started having a problem with mold in the cabin and on the soft top canvas enclosure at the helm. I tried a few different products to remove and prevent the mold from coming back with varying results. I had unbelievable success with Concrobium Mold Control. This isn’t a paid review, I am just so happy with it I thought I’d share my experience.

Mold Control Aerosol

 

Mold control comes in an aerosol can, spray bottle, gallon jug, and a fogger. I used the aerosol can version on my boat. They also sell a Mold Stain Eraser. I didn’t have to use this product as the Mold Control I used took the stains out without needing anything else.

I started cleaning the canvas and vinyl at the helm first. Spray the Mold Control onto the entire affected area and wipe with a clean terry cloth rag. That’s it! For me I only had to spray the area, wait a few minutes then wipe the damp area off with a rag dampened with the mold control. My canvass and vinyl looked brand new! For this post I wish I had before and after photos but I didn’t think to take them at the time. The way I did it differs slightly from the directions on the Concrobium website but it worked great for me. Mold Control also helps prevent mold growth and odors. If the area treated is regularly exposed to water, retreatment with a light coat may be necessary every so often. My canvas hasn’t needed retreatment this year and I did the original application in may of this year.

I have used Mold Control on just about every surface of our boat since I have a serious mold allergy and am very sensitive to mold and musty odors. I treated the walls, carpet, A.C coils in the air conditioner’s, Drain lines for the A.C units, finished wood on the boat, the head and shower, and the headliners in the cabins. It didn’t discolor any of those items or surfaces and so far only the A.C coils needed a re-application of the product. As always test in a hidden area first before going hog wild and spraying everything down. I’m interested in buying the fogger for next year and treating the entire boat at once. I did read one online review that said while the fogger works great you have to wipe down all the surfaces right after using it and that you have to be careful with fabric surfaces as it may leave residue.

They also have Moisture Grabbers that are suitable and recommended for boats. These combined with good airflow and fans will help keep your boat’s cabin and closed areas mold free. I keep a small fan running 24/7 on my boat to improve airflow on days we are away from the boat. You might also be interested in solar powered deck fans that you can rig to keep air moving in your bilge.

Moisture Grabbers XL

The boat smells and looks much better and is a healthier place to be now!

DSC Marine VHF Radios

You may be in the market for a new marine VHF radio or just bought a new boat with a new VHF radio on it. There are a lot of options today in the marine VHF radio market. One of those options that is standard on all new fix mount VHF radios and many handheld radios is DSC or Digital Selective Calling.

Marine VHF Radio With DSC

What is DSC?

Digital Selective Calling allows you to make ship to ship calls, find a fellow boater’s position, make a distress call with the push of a button and report your own position. DSC is coupled with GPS either through a stand alone GPS receiver, your chart plotter or a GPS receiver in the VHF radio. The GPS connection is a two wire connection using  NMEA 0183 protocol. Generally if you have a NMEA 0183 capable chartplotter or stand alone GPS receiver you can hook your VHF radio to it and be able to send your coordinates to other ships or the coast guard in the event of an emergency. If you don’t have a chartplotter or a standalone GPS receiver don’t worry there are DSC capable marine VHF radios with a built in GPS receiver.

Chartplotter With NMEA Capability

A DSC radio is a good investment for several reasons. You can call all the people you normally boat with by putting in their MMSI number and “ringing” their DSC capable radio. This lowers the amount of unnecessary traffic on marine channel 16. DSC transmits data on channel 70 and in a congested area using DSC rather than voice to call friend or to find a friends position is much better than tying up the airwaves and potentially transmitting over a distress call. With DSC and a chartplotter you can see where your friends are on the chartplotter and you can see any vessels in distress near you. In the event of a mayday or distress condition on your boat you can just push the red button on the radio and instantly transmit your boats position, details on the type of boat, name of boat, your name and contact info to the coast guard and any commercial ships near you. Greatly speeding up the time it takes to get help also because DSC is digital not voice you may have a greater transmitting range compared to making a voice mayday call on VHF channel 16.

If you have a new or new to you DSC radio in addition to wiring it to a GPS receiver you will need to enter your MMSI number into. A word of caution! Some radios will only allow the MMSI number to be entered once or twice. If you are buying a used radio make sure it can accept your MMSI number and if you are buying a new radio make sure you enter the number correctly. The MMSI number you register links your radio to your information. It contains your boat name, boat type and brand, size of the boat, color of the boat, your phone number, emergency contact information and your address.

Obtaining a MMSI number is easy. If you only plan on boating in US waters and are registering a private vessel you can visit one of the following three websites:

US Power Squadron MMSI 

Boat-US MMSI

SeaTow MMSI

If you are planning on boating outside of US waters you will need to file directly with the FCC to obtain your MMSI number. The forms can be found here: Form 159 and Form 605

If you are outside of the US visit this site in order to find the proper place to register for a MMSI number.

Connecting your DSC radio to GPS in such an important thing, it is literally a simple life saving step you can take to insure quick and proper notification to the authorities in the event of an emergency.

US Coast Guard Iphone and Android App

Today I was preparing to write a post about coast guard required safety equipment and I came across something I didn’t know existed. The Official US Coast Guard App for boaters. I just installed the android version of the app on my phone in order to review it for this post. When you install the app you are asked to agree to the terms of service for the app. For a government agency the terms are fairly straightforward but read them first to make sure you really want to agree to them. Since you can make reports of hazards and emergencies through the app you are reminded that false reports are illegal and waste resources. The app asks to use your location because it will give the GPS coordinates when making a report The app asks you to fill out info for a profile but you don’t have to fill out any info until you try to make a report.

In addition to being able to make a report of a hazard you can make reports of pollution, report suspicious activity and request emergency assistance through the app. The app lets you view state boating information, request a safety check, review safety equipment, file a float plan, view the rules of the road, and see NOAA buoy information. That’s quite a lot of good information right at your finger tips. It appears you will need an internet connection to view some of the information.

Check out this video for an overview of the application. 

This app is another tool in your boating toolbox and for the low, low price of free I’d recommend checking it out. The app also shows your GPS coordinates so you can quickly relay them to the authorities in the event of an emergency.

Survey Says!…. Get A Marine Survey

You’ve found the perfect boat, looked at it in person and are ready to make an offer on the boat.

STOP and read this!

Unless you can afford to throw away the money you are spending on the boat you are going to want to get it surveyed by an accredited surveyor. Many lending institutions will require a survey and your insurance company is going to require a survey for full coverage insurance.

Who are marine surveyors? A surveyor is someone who is accredited by one or more organizations and usually has spent a great deal of time in the marine industry. This isn’t like a home inspector who can get certified on a weekend and start inspecting homes. These surveyors have lengthy training, continuing education and time on various vessels. There are several governing bodies that monitor Marine Surveyors, (NAMS)-National Association of Marine Surveyors, the US Surveyors Association-Navy, Certified Marine Surveyors-(CMS), (ABYC)-American Boat and Yacht Council, (IIMS) – International Institute of Marine Surveyors, (SAMS) – Society of Accredited Marie Surveyors and the (YDSA) – Yacht Designers and Survey Association. In most cases it takes a minimum of 3 to 5 years to become an accredited surveyor.

What can I expect when I get a boat surveyed? I suggest you as the buyer be present during the survey. The surveyor will meet you and the seller or seller’s representative at the boat the day of your survey. While not necessary I always bring a note pad and pen with me to document the systems on the boat and issues the surveyor may find. It’s generally not good form to place the surveyor directly in price negotiations during the survey. The surveyor is there for you and only you. Schedule the survey for a time when all parties can be present since you will need to sea trial the boat, operate every system on the boat and haul the boat from the water to inspect the hull and running gear.  The surveyor will require the owner or owners representative to open access panels and covers in areas that need to be inspected. Due to liabilities the surveyor may not open secured panels if the owner isn’t there. the surveyor will inspect the hull and decks for rot, structural members for rot or damage, look for obvious leaks, check mechanical fasteners, inspect the electrical system and mechanical systems on the boat. Basically the survey covers everything on the boat except the inside of the engines. (an engine survey is usually an add on performed by a marine mechanic) This is a great opportunity for the buyer to follow the surveyor around and ask questions. They will be able to tell you how the systems on the boat work and how to maintain them. Remember the notebook I told you to bring? Use it to write down this information. Once the surveyor has gone over the boat from stem to stern you are ready for the sea trial. During the sea trial the surveyor will monitor engine and cooling system temperatures and associated electronics. They will also perform a backdown test to confirm the engine mounts are in good shape. After the sea trial the boat will be hauled out or put on the trailer for the hull inspection and the running gear inspection.

The surveyor will take a rub of the Hull ID number and include it in his report. In a few days you will receive a report usually in digital form with photos from the surveyor. This report will highlight deficiencies and include an estimated value of the boat.

Every boat has issues but use this report to negotiate a buying price. For example the boat is for sale at $35,000 and the survey report indicates that the fuel lines need replaced and the aft bilge pump isn’t working ask the seller to repair these items or deduct the coat of repairing them from the asking price. Your report most likely will contain many items of varying importance that need repaired or replaced.

The main types of marine surveys are buyers survey and insurance survey. The insurance survey is not recommended for a vessel you are trying to buy. This is a quick survey intended for the insurance companies to grant or renew coverage. Get a buyers survey! You can also have a marine mechanic inspect the engines and transmissions during the survey. This is called an engine survey. Depending on the type of engine and hours on the engine this may be preferred by some buyers.

I’ve run across some sellers that were hesitant to allow their boats to be surveyed. I would run, not walk from those sellers. Remember there are way more boats than buyers out there. If the survey finds issues or the seller seems sketchy move on to the next one. Never fall in love with a boat until it’s yours.

Costs for a survey vary greatly around the country so I can’t include a good estimate here but expect to pay $18.00– $20.00 per foot for a Pre-Purchase Condition & Valuation (C&V) Marine Survey. Plus you may have to pay to have the boat hauled out or placed in the water for the sea trial. It’s money well spent! I usually don’t use the surveyor the seller or broker recommends. You want someone who is there for you not anyone else in this deal.

Here are several websites where you can find an accredited surveyor:

http://www.marinesurvey.org/

http://www.boatus.com/insurance/survey.asp

http://abycinc.org/mpage/surveyorimportance

http://www.acms-usa.com/

Led Lights On Boats

A few years ago the LED lighting market exploded. Companies started making all kinds of LED light bulbs and fixtures to replace standard incandescent lighting. For us boaters this is a really great opportunity to affordably replace our incandescent lights and fixtures with low power consuming LED lights. We also can install some cool new accent or mood lighting in cabins, cockpits, heads and just about anywhere on the boat we need lighting.

Waterproof LED Strip Lights

My first experience with LED lights on a boat was when I installed LED strip lighting at the helm of my Maxum 2900 SCR. I bought a 16 foot roll of strip lights that came with a 120 volt power supply, remote control and 16 feet of stick on water proof LED lights. The strip could be cut to size and cut for the area it was being installed. About every 12 inches there is a cut mark where you can cut the strip and reconnect it with special connectors. There are several different types of strip lights you can buy. Some come with a music controller that changes the lights with the music. Ones labeled RGB are multi-colored and the color is user changeable. An Amazon search shows all the options available. When buying LED strip lights for a boat you generally want to buy the water proof ones with a good 3m adhesive on the back. I really liked the RGB lights since I could change them depending on if the boat was in motion or sitting at the dock. Installation is easy since the 120 volt transformer steps the voltage down to 12 volt. Just get rid of the transformer and cut the end off of the plug that connects to it. Make sure you know what wire is positive and what wire is negative and connect the positive to a fused power source or switch and the negative to ground.

LED G4 Bulbs

Another light that can be replaced with LEDs are the cabin lights. Many boats use a G4 bulb for cabin lights though yours might be different. Replacing these lights is as simple as removing the old bulb and replacing it with the LED bulb. In general these LED bulbs will draw around 1 watt of power. This significantly extends the time you can run the lights off of battery power. LED lights will only work if the positive and negative leg are installed properly. If you installed a light bulb and it doesn’t turn on flip its orientation and it should work.

On an older boat you may have outdated light fixtures and want to change them out for something a bit more modern. There are many LED light fixtures available, you should be able to find a fixture that will compliment your boats interior or exterior.

Led Navigation Light

LED navigation lights have hit the market and are a great replacement for older navigation lights. With LED navigation lights you have a several year run time compared to incandescent navigation lights. This means less bulb changes, less chance a bulb burns out while underway and less chance the Coast Guard will stop you for having a light out.

Overall replacing your lights with LED lights will enhance the look of your boat and increase the run time from your 12 volt electrical system.

Winterizing Tips For I/O and Sterndrive Boats: Part 1

In order to winterize your sterndrive inboard-outboard boat you will begin by filling the fuel tank then treating with a fuel treatment like Star Tron, Star Brite Ez-Store / Ez-Start or Stabil marine fuel treatment. Many experts agree that new ethanol gas blends “suck” water vapor from any air in the fuel tank. By filling the tank completely you remove most of the air and water vapor from the tank. Also treating the fuel prevents the gas from gumming up the fuel lines and carburetor over time. This is a great time to replace any fuel filters you may have. This step will help ensure a smooth running engine for your spring commissioning!

Next you will want to flush the engine and bring it up to operating temperature and add antifreeze to the cooling system. You will need a set of engine flush muffs, a winterizing kit or a 5 gallon bucket with a bulkhead / spigot installed and short hose or garden hose to attach to the muffs. You will also need a can of fogging oil if you have a carbureted engine. See our post on making your own winterization bucket.

It is very important to bring the engine up to operating temperature while flushing! Otherwise antifreeze will not fill the block and result in freeze damage to the engine block! 

Start by attaching the muffs over the inlet holes on the bottom of the sterndrive and attaching the garden hose. Remove the spark arrestor from the carburetor and set it in a safe location. Turn on the garden hose and verify good water flow to the outdrive. Once you have verified water is going to the outdrive start the engine and allow it to reach operating temperature. This is the temperature that the thermostat opens and allows water to circulate through the engine block. You may notice while watching the temperature gauge at the helm that the needle starts dropping, this is when the thermostat opens and lets cooler water circulate. Once the engine is at operational temperature disconnect the garden hose from the muffs and connect your winterizing kit or 5 gallon bucket to the muffs. Fill the kit or Bucket with marine antifreeze, place it higher than the engine, turn on the valve to let the antifreeze flow to the muffs and start the engine. You should see the antifreeze being “sucked” out of the container and through the cooling system. After seeing antifreeze coming out of the boats exhaust system for 20-30 seconds you can begin to fog the carburetor.  To fog the engine spay the fogging oil directly into the carburetor until the engine bogs down and stops. (some high horse power engines will not stop and will sputter and miss instead.)  Fuel injected engines typically do not need to be fogged. In either case check your owners manual to see specific instructions. Replace the spark arrestor.

 I recommend using marine antifreeze that is rated for -100 degrees F and has anti corrosion protection. Some people like to use a cheaper antifreeze that has -50 or -25 degree protection but regardless of how you fill and flush the engine there is always a possibility of a water pocket in the cooling system that will dilute the antifreeze you put into the engine. By using -100 degree antifreeze you are protecting yourself from minor dilution. 

We will continue the winterization process in part 2 discussing how to change the engine oil and what tools are needed.

Winterizing Tips For I/O and Sterndrive Boats: Part 2

In the first part of this post we’ve talked about flushing the engine, filling with antifreeze and fogging the engine. You didn’t think it ended there did you?! We still have a few more items to take care of to make sure your boat is shipshape for the upcoming winter.

While the engine is still warm, it’s a great time to change the engine oil and filter. You will need a way to remove the oil from the engine, new oil and filter. Tools needed will be an oil filter wrench and an oil extractor. You can use either a manual extractor like this one or a 12 volt pump extractor such as this jabsco pump.

Follow the instructions that come with the oil extractor to remove all of the oil from the engine. Typically this involves inserting the correct size tube down the dipstick tube connecting it to the extractor and pumping it a few times to create a vacuum to remove all of the oil. The manual extractors will normally have markings along the sides to show how many quarts of oil have been removed. If your oil filter is remotely mounted i.e it’s upside down on top of the engine or off to the side wrap a towel around the base of it to catch any oil that will leak out of it before removing it and poke a small hole in the top of the filter to allow the oil in the filter to drain while the extractor is sucking the oil out of the engine. Once all of the oil is removed you can remove the extractor tube and the oil filter taking care not to spill any oil on top of or under the engine.

Replace the engine oil with the correct weight oil, check your owners manual or the engine manufactures website for the correct oil specifications. Most mercruisers will be happy with mercruiser 25W40 oil. Mercruiser also has a synthetic version of the 25W40 if you prefer synthetic oil. As always check your manual to confirm you are using the correct oil.

Replace the oil filter with a new one lubing the gasket on the filter with oil and hand tightening the filter into place.

In part 3 of how to winterize your stern drive boat we will talk about changing the outdrive oil and inspecting the outdrive.