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Friday, October 15, 2010

Winterizing Your Boat: Fogging, Shrink Wrapping, and Covering

Jane Warren

In some regions of the country, boaters get to experience a shortened boating season due to that time called “Winter.” In the northern climatic regions, the season for water sports is cut short, which requires all water craft to get prepared for storage over the winter. A boat can easily be ruined during this time of year, if not properly protected and stored. Boats can find themselves under attack from the elements like ice and snow, allowing moisture to cause corrosion, and mold and mildew. Water crafts can also get visit(s) from unwanted animals that can damage many areas of a boat. All of these issues can make repairs become very expensive; therefore prevention is the best and cheapest method.

To Fog or Not To fog?

What is fogging? Fogging is the act of winterizing the boat engine. How is this done? The technique calls for pouring engine oil directly into the engine cylinders to coat inside with a thick oil or coating. You can do this by removing the spark plugs to get access directly inside the cylinder. Pour a small amount of oil, just enough to cover top of the piston. Once you do that to all of the motor, replace the spark plug with a cap. You can find the correct threaded cap at any hardware store. Turn the key like you are starting the boat; this will move the pistons up and down, coating the inside of the cylinder with the oil.

Why is fogging important? The fogging method will cover the inside of the engine with thick oil. This will prevent corrosion inside the engine block and cylinders, while the boat sits exposed to the elements during the winter months. Proponents of fogging claim it saves on the life of the engine and helps keeping the pistons from seizing up.

So why wouldn’t you do it? Fogging is extremely important when the boat is exposed to outside elements. It has been found that if the boat is stored inside or shrink wrapped, moisture cannot get into the engine as much as when the vessel is outside. Fogging can make the engine very dirty and will cause a large amount of smoke when starting up in the spring (that’s why it’s called fogging). The best answer to keeping a boat engine healthy through the storage time is to limit its exposure to water. Fogging will help prevent the moisture inside the engine, but just keeping your boat from outside exposure should be as effective.

Shrink Wrap: Is It Worth It?

Another technique to winterize your boat is to shrink wrap the craft. This process entails taking a large roll of plastic and wrapping it around the boat. Once the boat is encased inside the wrap, a large heat gun is used make the cover “shrink”. This creates a watertight shell around the boat that protects it from external elements.

Shrink wrapping a boat is done by professionals. The cost to have this type of work done varies by length of the boat. This cost can range from $100 to $550 to shrink wrap boats on an average size of 12 to 35 feet.

So is winterizing your boat in shrink-wrap worth it? The shrink-wrap will encase the boat in a watertight shell. This keeps any moisture or ice from getting inside the boat. This will help keep the motor from corroding and keep the interior of the boat in good shape.

Additionally, this creates a tough shell that keeps any animals from getting inside the boat during the wintertime. Animals can really cause damage to a boat by chewing on wires, tearing up seats so they can nest, and leave a terrible odor. Shrink-wrap will help prevent all of those issues from happening. The drawback to shrink-wrap is that is does cost you money; you have to be willing to pay for it.

Car Covers/Car Port?

An alternative to shrink wrapping a boat is to buy a hard cover to house the boat. Hard car covers help keep a solid roof over the boat, and yet can still be portable.

If you don’t need portability, a carport can be set up over the boat to protect it from the elements. A boat/vehicle carport gives the boat a nice solid roof overhead with some decent protection from the elements. However, it will not protect the boat completely as the sides are open around the boat.

Your Choices:

There are many different options for keeping a boat protected and maintained over the off-season for those in cold climates. They include fogging, shrink wrapping and carports or soft boat cover. All in all, these steps can help to keep your boat in great shape so you can quickly enjoy the water once the next boating season rolls around.

About the Author

Jane is a water sport enthusiast. She especially loves swimming, scuba diving, and boating. She and her friends enjoy having a great time on the water with their boat, skis, and towable tubes. One of their favorite inflatable tubes is the Sportsstuff Super Mable towable. It holds up to 3 riders, and has 2 tow points: you can ride either sitting up, or laying flat on the tube.

Because of her involvement in water activities, Jane also publishes a website about boat tube reviews, and other boating and water sports products. Some of the waterproof items include Garmin GPS handheld units, and Marine radios by Uniden.