Here’s a photo e-mailed to me by a friend – let’s see if you can tell what’s wrong with this picture:
Yes, those are icicles hanging from the engine. This boat was left in the water well past the start of winter, which itself is not a problem. In fact, many of us hard-core anglers fish right through the winter months. But savvy outboard owners know that once freezing temperatures hit you should leave your engines in the water, tilted completely down. Tilting them up during the summer months has an obvious advantage: it keeps marine growth off of the outdrive. But once water temps drop into the 40’s, those barnacles and seaweed stop growing. Your outdrives stay perfectly clean, and there’s no harm done leaving them down. Continue tilting them up, however, and water trapped in the lower unit may freeze and cause serious damage. Seeing these icicles hanging from the outdrives, it’s clear that the owner continued tilting the engines up too late into the winter. As soon as the air temps hit freezing he should have left them in the down position. And naturally, the boat should be pulled before the surrounding water freezes solid.
BONUS TIP: After pulling your boat in the winter, let the outboard drain in the down position, then tilt it all the way back up. Allow it to sit a few seconds, and lower it again. You’ll get a second flow of water, draining the engine completely.
DOUBLE BONUS TIP: For winter layup make sure the engine is tilted down and the prop and hub are completely covered, so rain can’t blow in, freeze, and cause damage.