Winterizing Procedures

This page was last updated on 8 November 2001


Because we went away for a week a day after the boat was hauled for the winter, I didn't get a chance to winterize the engine right away.  Typically, I would try to do it within a day or two just to get it out of the way.

When I got around to it, a couple days after returning from our trip, this is how I proceeded.

  • The best thing to do is change the oil before the boat even comes out of the water.  This way, you can run the engine a nice long time to warm the oil up, which makes it much easier.  It's a good idea to change the oil at layup because used oil contains many impurities and corrosive materials that may have an adverse affect on the engine if they sit in there all winter.  I have to admit that I did not change my oil this fall, as I did not have a chance to do it when the boat was in the water, and it's tough to run the engine long enough to really warm the oil when the boat is on the hard.  Maybe I'll still try to drain out what I can even with the engine cold, just for fun.  I'm wracked with feelings of guilt and inadequacy for not having done it...

  • Next, I ran a hose out to the boat, and brought up a 5-gallon bucket.  I have one of those little plastic regulating on/off valves on the end of the hose, which lets me regulate the flow or shut it completely off.  I filled the bucket full of fresh water, removed the hose that runs from the sea strainer to the raw water pump on the engine, and attached a special length of hose that I keep just for this purpose.  I put the other end of the hose in the bucket.  Then, I started the engine.  Once I got it started, I went below and turned on the hose again.  The engine draws amazing amounts of water through!  We have a well at our house, with an external pump, and at the point just before the pressure switch on the pump caused it to turn on, the water flow from the hose was barely enough to keep up with the engine draw at its lowest (idle) speed.  Any speeds higher than idle meant that I couldn't even keep up.  Later, when the pressure was back up, it was easier to keep up with the flow.  I ran the engine for several minutes to allow the fresh water to flush the raw water side, and the exhaust system.  I then shut off the hose and allowed the engine to draw most of the water out of the bucket, shutting the engine down when a gallon or so remained.

  • I had purchased two gallons of Sierra environmentally-friendlier antifreeze.  Now, I mixed  up a batch in the bucket, testing it with a hydrometer to ensure that it was at its optimal solution (about 50/50).  When I was satisfied, I got ready for the final engine run.  First, though, I rigged up a bucket beneath the exhaust outlet, supported on a ladder, to catch the bulk of the discharge from the exhaust.  I didn't want all that antifreeze spilling out on the ground.  Even though the Sierra is safer than normal automotive antifreeze, it's still not truly safe, and I didn't want our two dogs getting into it.  Then I started the engine one last time and ran it till all the antifreeze had been sucked in, watching the exhaust to ensure that the antifreeze had made it all the way through the system.  I shut down the engine.

  • Later, I tested the antifreeze solution in the heat exchanger to ensure that it was properly protective.  I cleaned all the engine surfaces, wiped up any spills of liquid, and I was done.

Head and Potable Water System

To winterize the head, I first pumped the bowl dry, and then removed the raw water intake hose from the seacock.  Plunging it into a gallon of pink RV antifreeze, I pumped the head until I had pulled all the antifreeze through.  This ensures that both the intake and discharge lines are free of water and contain the safe antifreeze.

For the fresh water system, I removed the hose from the tank outlet and let all the remaining water run into the bilge, draining the tank.  While this was going on, I used the foot pumps at both sinks to drain any remaining water in the lines.  Once this was done, I reattached the hose to the tank and poured in a couple gallons of pink antifreeze.  Then, I pumped each faucet at the two sinks until I got good pink material through, eventually draining the tank once more.  This ensures that the water lines are full of antifreeze, as well as the sink drain lines.


Other preparations for winter include removing the batteries (or putting them on a charger--I haven't decided yet), removing any supplies from the boat that might be damaged by freezing, removing the cushions and other materials, and generally making sure that all is well for a long hibernation.  The only thing left to do is dry out the bilge and winterize the bilge pump and lines, which I haven't done yet because I haven't been able to get on the boat for three weeks since I broke my foot.  Grrrrrrr...



Glissando, Pearson  Triton #381

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