Are you a die-hard boater who keeps running all winter long? If so, you’ll encounter some issues that the average mariner doesn’t usually have to think about. Make your winter safe and mechanically sound, by using these five cold weather winter boating tips.
1. Leave your battery on a trickle-charge. During the cold months when boats may sit for a few weeks at a time in sub-freezing weather, dead or weak batteries are common. Make sure yours stays strong, by putting it on a one-amp trickle-charge at all times; simple, inexpensive solar chargers are great for this job.
2. Bring back-up warmth when you go boating. If you get wet you’ll need to warm up fast—remember that hypothermia is the number-one killer of outdoor folks during the off-season. Carry pocket warmers, an extra change of clothes, a thermos filled with a hot drink or soup, and other forms of heat which you can pump into your body, if need be.
3. Wear a float-coat. These jackets not only have a PFD built-in, they’re also extremely warm; all that foam makes for great insulation.
4. Remember to plug the plumbing you can’t shut off. Some items on your boat will take on water the moment you start running, and don’t have seacocks to cut them off. Livewells with high-speed pick-ups are one common culprit, and if they fill up while you’re not paying attention, some water may sit in the lines or well all day long. In extremely cold weather, that can mean a burst hose or cracked fiberglass. Prevent this problem by plugging the well (or fishbox drain, sea chest, etc.) from the inside, before you launch.
5. Bring along ski goggles. Regular sunglasses won’t give your eyes any protection from biting-cold wind, but a pair of ski goggles will keep your eyes from tearing up while you cruise.