We’ve all heard the storing batteries on concrete myth before. Some of us refuse to store a car or boat battery on concrete because our mechanic or trusted friend said it will drain the battery. Turns out this myth had some truth in it but is no longer relevant with today’s battery construction.
Early Batteries were constructed from wooden crates holding glass encased cells. When the wood was subject to moisture or temperature changes it would warp and break the glass cells causing the acid to leak out and the battery to fail. You would have definitely wanted to keep one of these batteries off of the floor and in a cool dry place.
Next Generation Batteries
The next generation of batteries were Nickle-Iron batteries that were encased in steel and covered with a rubber coating. These batteries were susceptible to discharge when placed on the ground due to the rubber coating breaking down, absorbing moisture from the ground and allowing current to flow through the pores of the rubber membrane. These batteries were not meant to be stored on the concrete or on the ground.
Current Day Batteries
Batteries made today are contained in a hard plastic case that is impervious to moisture and actually will benefit from the relatively stable temperature of a concrete floor. New batteries can be damaged by extreme temperature changes and should be kept in a relatively cool environment when storing them.
What Damages Modern Batteries
Dirt and dust can become carbonized, creating electrical conduction which drains the battery. Combat this by using a clean rag to clean wipe off the tops of the battery.
Self-discharge occurs over time with lead-acid batteries. Reactions within the plates happen as the battery ages creating a leak. The warmer the air surrounding the battery the faster the rate of discharge. Keeping the air around stored batteries cool will help slow the rate of self-discharge.
While cold temperatures are rarely the cause of battery malfunctions, a battery that is at a low state of charged and exposed to freezing temperatures can freeze causing the case to crack. Keeping your battery fully charged during the winter months is an easy way to prevent this from happening.
Knowing the shelf life of your battery can help a lot as well. A car battery stored in a cool and dry place can last a few years if you keep it topped off with a trickle charger.
Today’s batteries are well insulated and no longer take on water that can cause discharging or leaking. That being said, there are clearly right ways and wrong ways when it comes to battery storage. Keeping your batteries clean, dry and understanding their shelf life can make a big difference in preserving their longevity and the quality of their performance. So go ahead and leave that battery on the cool dry floor of your garage. Kinda great, right?
One of the simplest and most effective things you can do to maintain your boat is to keep it clean. When proper steps and effort is put forth cleaning your boat you not only gain a sense of pride but you are taking an important step in safeguarding your boats fit and finish.
Choose the right equipment for your type of boat. Sturdy brushes with telescoping handles help alleviate stress on our back and muscles and allow you to reach out of the way places. Consider the materials your boat is constructed of when buying cleaning tools. Generally a medium soft bristle brush is desired and won’t harm most surfaces. Some tougher non-skid decks may benefit from a stiff bristle brush. A sponge, clean rags, mop and detail brushes will also help you keep your boat clean. Applicator pads for vinyl cleaners and polishes are also suggested. Choose items that will stand up to the rigors of marine usage and the elements like salt water and the sun. Choose items that can be broken down and stored easily in the confines of your boat. Store your cleaning supplies in the same place and in good condition after every use and you will be able to find them and use them with little issue the next time you have to clean your boat.
Use only environmentally friendly products to clean your boat. It may seem like a proverbial drop in the bucket but imagine the environmental impact of every boat in your area using unsafe products to clean with. Try to avoid using concentrated products at full strength. This will potentially damage or strip finishes from your boat. Don’t use dishwashing soap to wash your boat as this will strip the wax or polish from surfaces. Don’t use bleach as it will corrode certain metals and is harmful to marine life. If you have stubborn stains try to use hydrogen peroxide or a cleaner like oxyclean diluted in water. Borax is also an alternative to bleach that works well on decks. Make sure you are using the proper cleaning agent for the proper surface. On isinglass or strataglass only use cleaners recommended by the manufacturer. On vinyl only use cleaners and protectors made for vinyl. Steer away from using a magic eraser as these are technically little blocks of sand paper and will remove finishes.
When washing your boat wash in sections so that soap doesn’t dry on the surfaces. Pay attention to the condition of your boat and note any damage or areas of concern where items might need re-bedded or repaired. A good wash is followed by a good rinse. Make sure to rinse all of the soap and dirt from scrubbing off the boat to avoid streaks. In areas with hard water hand drying with a towel is necessary to avoid water marks. To remove hard water marks try using vinegar and if they are on glass try using Bar Keepers Friend to polish them out.
When cleaning vinyl clean off heavy dirt and debris with mild soap and water then use a vinyl cleaner to remove stubborn stains. A mixture of 4 parts water to 1 part ammonia can be used to remove mildew or mold stains. There are also commercial cleaners that will safely remove mildew stains. Follow up with a good marine quality vinyl protectant.
Clean your canvas with a soft bristle brush and a marine canvas cleaner making sure when rinsing all the dirty water rinses clean off of the boat. Then apply a marine canvas protectant to protect your canvas from UV light and the elements.
Depending if your boat is painted or has the factory gelcoat you will need to wax your boat. In most areas of the country waxing twice a year is recommended with spot waxing when needed. In places with harsher UV light levels more frequent waxing might be needed. I wax twice a year, in the spring I apply several coats of a high quality marine liquid wax and one coat of a high quality paste wax. In the fall I apply one coat of cleaner wax and two coats of liquid wax. This protects the finish all year and makes the boat stand out. Painted surfaces may need a polish applied yearly or nothing at all depending on the brand of paint used and the amount of shine the paint has.
Washing and caring for your boat’s exterior shouldn’t take away from the fun and enjoyment of boating but a small amount of time spent caring for your boat will pay off in the long run. A clean shiny boat is worth more to a buyer and is more appealing to your guests.
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.
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.
The boat smells and looks much better and is a healthier place to be now!
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.
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.
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 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.
So you’ve read our multi part series on how to winterize your sterndrive boat and you noticed I mentioned using a 5 gallon bucket to winterize in place of a premade kit. A premade winterizing kit will cost about $40. You can make your own for a fraction of that cost.
Using your 1 1/2 inch hole saw drill a hole in the side of the bucket near the bottom. Be careful to not drill through the bottom of the bucket. Once your hole is drilled take the bulkhead fitting apart and insert the male threaded part of the bulkhead fitting through the hole you drilled from the inside to the outside. Make sure you have a gasket on both sides of the bulkhead fitting then screw the female threaded nut onto the male threads sticking out of the side of the bucket.
Take your Hose bib and wrap a few wraps of teflon tape or use pipe dope on the threads. screw the hose bib into the bulkhead fitting. You should have bought a 3/4 hose bib and a 3/4 inch bulk head. The products I have linked in this article are all compatible.
That’s it! If you bought the products linked here you spent about 20 dollars and will have a winterization bucket that will last you for years. I use mine to winterize the water system, engines and generators.
One of the hardest things is knowing the correct name for things. When I first built my bucket I didn’t know the name for the bulkhead fitting. I spent way to much time wandering around the store looking for something I couldn’t name. I hope this article helps you in your boating journey.
So you’ve read our 3 part series on winterizing your boats engine and sterndrive. Now it’s time to winterize your boats fresh water system.
There are a multitude of designs and setups for boat fresh water systems so inspect yours and make sure you know how water or in this case antifreeze will flow through your system.
Most boats have a freshwater tank, hot water heater and various faucets and outlets for the water to flow from. You may have a freshwater flush head or a raw (seawater) flush head. It’s important to know exactly how your system is set up. Almost all vacuflush systems use fresh water to flush and will need to be winterized according to the manufactures instructions.
I always start by going to the pumpout dock and pumping the head holding tank. Next I empty the freshwater holding tank by opening the faucets and running the freshwater pump until all of the water is out of the system. Remember to open and drain seldom used things like transom shower heads and washdown hoses. Locate your hot water heater and open the drain and blow off valve on the hot water heater. Make sure you have turned the breaker off for the hot water heater. Once the water has drained from the heater close the drain and blow off valve. Opening the blow off valve will let the hot water heater drain faster.
If you have an on board ice maker follow the manufactures instructions on how to winterize it. I typically turn the water off to the ice maker and let it run until it uses all the water in the line to make ice. Once it stops making ice I disconnect the water line at the solenoid and drain any remaining water from the line. Most ice makers can be damaged by blowing air through the lines or using antifreeze.
Now that your water system is empty there are a few different ways to winterize the system. I have a bypass valve and hose installed on my hot water heater so after I drain the hot water heater I can bypass it and not have to waste 12 gallons of antifreeze filling it up. This is a good hot water tank bypass kit. So with the hot water heater bypassed pour five or six gallons of antifreeze into your water tank and turn on your freshwater pump. Go to the furthest faucet from the holding tank and one at a time turn on the valves until antifreeze comes out of the faucet. Now go to every other faucet and repeat the process.
If your boat doesn’t have or you don’t use your fresh water tank you can winterize by using your 5 gallon bucket you made following this post and a utility pump. Fill the bucket with antifreeze attach the utility pump to the hose bib on the bucket and attach the discharge side of the pump to the dockside water connection on your boat. Turn the pump on and follow the same directions as above to pump antifreeze through your boats fresh water system.
If you have a freshwater flush head, flush the head for enough time to be certain the antifreeze has filled the intake and discharge hoses along with the head pump.
If you have a raw water flush head locate the through hull for the water intake, shut it off and pour one gallon of antifreeze into the head and flush it until it is all gone. Disconnect the hose from the through hull and drain it before reconnecting it to the through hull. Check your hose clamps and replace if needed.
Some boat owners like to winterize the water system by using compressed air to blow it out. I don’t like this method because it can damage faucets and other parts of the system and it may leave a pocket of water in a low laying hose or pipe. By using antifreeze you are insuring the water has been replaced with the proper antifreeze.
The boat’s been winterized, you’re removing all of your belongings and wondering “what in the heck do I do with my batteries”?
Marine Batteries need to be maintained throughout the winter. How you maintain them depends on how your boat is stored. If you want the batteries to last the winter and the boat to fire up first thing in the spring follow these simple steps.
For a boat stored on land with the drain plug removed you can take your batteries out of the boat and store them indoors in a heated environment checking them monthly and charging if necessary. Removing the battery from the boat is fine as long as the boat isn’t in danger of collecting water in the bilge and needing the bilge pump to run. It’s not a bad idea to remove the battery boxes with the batteries in order to safely store them preventing anything from falling on the battery and shorting it out.
I use this type of meter to check my batteries charge while they are out of the boat. You can also use a multimeter to check the charge. If you need to charge a battery do not charge it inside of your house. Batteries off gas while charginging and could cause an accumulation of explosive gas inside your house.
If your boat is stored in the water (as mine is every other year) you will need to keep the batteries in the boat to insure the bilge pumps and other systems function. I use my shore line connection and leave my smart battery chargers running all winter. If you don’t have this option at the very least you need to stop by the boat bi-monthly and check / charge the batteries with an approved marine battery charger. I turn off all the breakers and switches for 12 volt powered things I don’t need. Basically I just leave the bilge pumps connected.
Remember! If the batteries die you are at risk of sinking when the bilge pumps fail. It’s also a good idea to stop by the boat after foul weather and insure everything is ok.
As batteries become discharged the electrolyte will have a higher freeze temperature. This can lead to the battery bursting or internal damage to the battery. A fully charged battery has a much lower freeze temperature than a discharged battery.