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Winterizing your Boat

By Sam Anderson

To many of us fall marks the beginning of getting that boat ready for the long cold winter. Soon the ice will be too thick to get the boat in the water and all of us who own boats need to get them winterized. Winterization of a boat is not a complicated task, but you should take precautions to make sure all the things that might be in your boat that would freeze are stored in a warm place. Don’t forget items like the suntan lotion and the half-empty bottled water that ended up in your storage compartment.

 These are the obvious things to remember, but many people forget food items and when winter is over they discover that items have exploded or you might have had a visitor from the rodent family that could not resist that Snickers bar and decided that it would be a good place to stay and rear their young.

 Of course fogging your engine is necessary and I like to change my lower unit oil and put in a new set of spark plugs for the up coming year. I make sure that all my live wells are drained and that the bilge area is free from any water. To most of us that is the complete list of getting our boat ready for winter. Oh you might tarp the boat down and find that secluded spot in the backyard for the boat, but for most of us that is all there is to winterizing the boat.

 Some words of caution before you put "old blue" away. Have you checked your batteries or your trailer? These are the two most over looked parts of the boat.

 Often forgotten items to check before storing your boat is the condition of your trailer. The first place I start to check are the connections. Does the trailer rest on the hitch ball correctly? Can my safety chains cross and do they have any weak links? What condition are my electrical connections in? As I go along the frame of the trailer I also check to see that the boat is resting on the keel rollers or skid plates. I inspect the winch and strap to see if they are in need of repair. Finally, I spend a great deal of time on the tire and axle area. If my trailer is sitting outside all winter I want to make an inspection of the tires, check to see if they are weather checked or if they need inflation.

 Probably the most important area to check and maintain is your bearings. So many anglers assume that if the trailer has grease in the bearing area they should be all right. Again, this is an area that is just as important as the hitch and the hookups. In fact, the leading causes of breakdowns are the bearings. If you have bearing buddies installed on your trailer you have an advantage. You can easily use a grease gun and check to see if the bearings are properly lubricated. If you don't have the spring-loaded device, it might be something that you should check into. If not, you have to remove the dust cover on your bearings and check the amount of grease on your bearings. A word of caution if you do this, is make sure that you get your dust covers back on properly and don't smash the bearings as you reattach the cover. Don't forget to check out the lights on the trailer. Check brake lights, signal lights, brightness and don't forget when you arrive at the lake it might help if you unplug those lights. Most new trailers have the lights sealed, but they do get cracks in the housing and they can get a cold blast of water on a hot bulb.

 Yet another area that is commonly overlooked when winterizing are the batteries. I know professional fisherman who carry extra batteries with them all the time and at the end of the year they are purchasing new batteries to replace ones that they either left in the boat or simply did not hold their charge during the winter.

Therefore, I contacted Hawker Energy Products in Warrensburg, MO. and talked to Terry Elwell and Dwayne Dady about a new battery that they have on the market called Trolling Thunder. Dady explained that conventional batteries are referred to as "flooded batteries." These batteries contain plates made mostly of lead that are surrounded by an electrolyte with sulfuric acid as its main ingredient. Batteries produce power as the acid leaves the electrolyte and enters the plates. The plates are coated with an active, paste like material, which actually does most of the work. When all of the acid in the electrolyte has entered the plates, power production stops. The battery must go through a recharging process that forces the acid out of the plates back into the electrolyte before it can produce power again.

The difference between the "flooded batteries" and Trolling Thunder batteries is that the Trolling Thunder batteries are an absorbed glass matt or AGM battery. According to Dady, "these batteries use pure virgin lead" 99.9% pure and medical grade acid. The conventional batteries use lead alimony, which contains impurities and this, lessens the life of the battery. The other difference is when you take a "flooded 105 amp battery" and draw it down below 10 volts it is considered 100% discharged. When you recharge that battery you will smell the battery acid as it is being vented. This venting actually decreases the life of the battery. Trolling Thunder batteries have internal vents and will not allow dangerous gases to build inside the case. The conventional battery will loose about 40% of its amps anywhere from 1 - 10 charges. This means that the 105-amp battery suddenly became a 40-amp battery. This will not happen with the AGM batteries because there is no loss due to venting. Essentially the AGM batteries will last longer, in fact, about 3 to 4 times longer and they will weigh less, because they don't have to have all the extra electrolyte. The Trolling Thunder batteries are 1/3 smaller and in comparison to conventional batteries in a group 24 -27 the difference is 65 lbs. compared to 32 lbs.

 The Trolling Thunder is a completely sealed battery that is totally dry system which makes it ideal for outdoor applications and there is no need to winterize them, you can leave them right in your boat all winter long.

 When you start to winterize your boat this fall keep these things in mind and don’t forget the Snickers bar or you might be replacing more than bearing and batteries you might need a new interior of your boat.

Walleyes Inc. website is maintained by Randy Tyler Fishing the In-Fisherman Professional Walleye Circuit, Masters Walleye Circuit and the Team Walleye Circuit. All rights reserved.Copyright 1999/2000
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