That Time of Year

QuestionToday it’s 105 degrees and I’m thinking about winter. My 20-foot SeaFox stays on a boat lift year round, and I really need to start thinking about service. What should I do with it where it is?

– Vince Mitchford, via

AnswerMy first concern would be the gearcase, which should be drained of its contents and refilled with fresh gear oil. It is an awful job working under the boat, with unexpected winds blowing oil all over the water, so I’d suggest getting the boat to terra firma and having the job done properly. It would also be a good time to change the water pump impeller, a job virtually impossible from below, in another boat.

Once back on the lift, your standard winterization procedure applies. There are as many opinions about this as there are tongues to wag, so I’ll offer the following as opinions brought forth in tech schools I attend:

To your last tank of fuel for the year, add a proper proportion of stabilizer. I use Seafoam, an excellent stabilizer/cleaner. Use the boat until the fuel gauge registers as low as you feel safe, then follow the winterization procedure the manufacturer recommends.

If you have one, turn the battery switch off. Disconnect the negative cable(s) from the battery, and put a tie wrap around them so the same number go back on in the spring as came off in the fall.

Remove the boat’s drain plug. Any water accumulating in the bilge will run out instead of freezing and ruining the bilge pump. If you’re over 21 and have children, leave yourself a note on the dash referencing the open hole in the stern. You’re kidding yourself if you think you can have kids and a memory concurrently.

Come spring, reverse the process, trickle-charge the battery, Install the drain plug, start and run the engine at an easy idle at the pier, test its reliability into the wind and don’t go any farther than you want to paddle back. When you’re happy with the results, summer begins.


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