Boat Winterization Services and Charges, Part II
If you own a boat maintenance business you may have considered what your charges should be and what the boat owners are willing to pay. Here are some thoughts on the type of charges and services you should consider. This is Part II
Fill up fuel tanks to avoid condensation during winter. Add a fuel stabilizer by following exact instructions on the container. Change out fuel filters and water separators.
Main Engines and Generators: (Optional $ 150)
Change the sump oil and oil filters. You should run the engine for 10 minutes to warm it up first. Hot oil tenders to allow impurities to be drained with the oil. Acids have formed in the oil from combustion heat and are attacking vital engine parts. Leaving old oil in an engine during the non-use period is a bad idea. The old oil adheres to bearing and other important engine parts and causes corrosion. Change fuel filters on primary and secondary filters. Check fuel filters for algae and water. Advise owner if really bad. Make sure to change protective zincs in the main engines and generators. Add anti-freeze to cooling system and run for fifteen minutes. Use only environmentally friendly anti-freeze. Never use silicone based anti-freezes or even ones which contain any silicone what so ever. If the engine block freezes and cracks, it's usually covered under the boater's insurance policy. Plug up all exhaust ports. Remove spark plugs and use fogging oil spray to spray into cylinders. Wipe down engine with a rag sprayed with WD-40 or fogging oil. You may also wish to follow engine linkage and spray it down with WD-40 and wipe excess.
If the boat is out of the water clean off the bottom of the boat ASAP. It is easiest to remove barnacles, grass and slime while the bottom is still wet. Pay particular attention to cleaning off the water line and transom. Also propellers, shaft, rudders and trim tabs.
Inspect stern drive (s) and remove any plant life or barnacles from lower unit. Drain gear case to remove any moisture in oil. Clean the lower unit with a steam cleaner when it is possible. Check rubber boots for cracks and pin hole leaks. Grease all fittings and check fluid levels in hydraulic steering or lift pumps.
Ask about carpet cleaning for the boat. Clean upholstered furniture. Also lay out fabric curtains and clean them as well. Vacuum mattresses.
Disconnect fuel hose and run engine dry, until it stops. It is very important to make sure all fuel is drained from carburetor to prevent build up of deposits from evaporated fuel. Old oil can turn to varnish. Use fogging oil, spray into cylinder walls, and pistons. Apply water-resistant grease to propeller shaft and threads. Wax the engine. Note: there are two theories on whether you should disconnect and drain fuel or whether you should add stabilizers and fuel treatments. Nissan Marine Motors recommends that you drain it completely, while Mercury and OMC recommend estimating fuel with a conditioner, which they sell, and adding stabilizer. The second method is of course much simpler, but you must follow the boat engine manual.
Canvas Covers: (Add Maintenance Costs for Hardware)
Check for weak seams and defective fasteners. Check receivers on the boat also. You must replace bad hardware due to winter winds. A few bad fasteners may allow the wind to grip on the covers and it will thrash it to shreds.
Storage Bins and Lockers:
Use a good marine caulking compound to seal cracks and leaks. Remove contents. If paint is missing, sand and repaint (extra fee). Be sure to wipe down with moisture resistant cleaner and then wax it.
First Aid Kits:
Replenish first aid kits and medical supplies. Discard old medicines. Take everything out and wipe with anti-moisture cleaner.
If the boat will be left in the water, pay attention. Check lines for chafe and add spring or breast lines to prevent fore and aft movement in the slip. There should be twice the number of lines as normal. Check dock cleat for tightness. If loose, contact marina management to get them prepared before windy season. Add chafe protectors on lines if owner wishes and be sure to charge them for this. Hang twice the number of fenders that you would use in summer.
Power Cords: (Replacements Add Costs, Coordinate Repairs)
Give your AC power cord an inspection. Check to see if the female end looks brown, melted or corroded inside. If it does you have a poor connection problem. Have a professional marine electrician take a look. Make sure the power cord does not fall into the water or that there is no way it will be plunged in to the water. An electrical short can cause unnecessary corrosion to the boat or neighboring boats.
Secure all gear on the deck and possibly attach a small plastic covered wire lock. Mail the key to the lock with a note in your invoice for services. Keep one key yourself. Do the same for shore boats, water toys, scuba and safety gear. Other items such as EPIRB's, mob flags, fire extinguishers, flares, fenders and life saving gear is better off below out of the weather. Pressure wash them first and secure them below to discourage theft. Advise owners to take cushions, galley fuel, boat papers, home electronics and small outboard motors home.
Fuel Tanks: (Add Cost of Gas to Invoice)
Top off fuel tanks and pour in two bottles of additive.
Close all through-hulls (except cockpit drains). Double clamp both sides with stainless rubber hose clamps. Turn cushions on end to allow air to circulate around them. Open refrigerator and freezer and tie doors open. Wipe them down inside with moisture absorbing marine products such as: "No-Damp", "Damp Away" or "Sportsman's Mate". If you want to really get tricky turn on a de-humidifier for a half a day.
Secure the halyards to keep them from clanging as the wind blows and putting nicks I the mast. Make sure sail covers are tight and lashed sturdily to the boom. If you have roller-furling, be sure the sails are furled all the way in and the furling line is secured so that wind will not deploy.
If you live in an area where the lake actually freezes around boat and the owner has opted to leave it in the water, you might suggest a de-icing system or bubbling system around the boat.
This list is in no way 100% complete. However, these are the major items. There is a log you may wish to use and you can download it at:
Do not assume that in California there is no need to winterize a craft just because of the good climate. US boat insurance carriers had five times the number of claims in California as in Alaska, Maine and Michigan combined.