From the Boathouse: Winter is coming to the harbor

October 08, 2013|By Mike Whitehead


October is upon us, and my friends are telling me that they are getting snow in Utah and Colorado already.

Our weather is still very pleasant, with this weekend forecast to be in the high 60s to the low 70s along our coast. However, hearing about the recent snowfall has brought boat winterization to the forefront of my mind, especially when many boaters are securing their vessels until next season.

We are lucky to live along the coast in Southern California, where our boating season really never ends because we do not experience long periods of freezing temperatures. The ocean temperature helps to maintain our mild air temperatures for Orange County.


However, you can drive a couple of hours to our mountains and find freezing winter temperatures. Hopefully this winter, the snow pack will be better for skiing and replenishing our water supply.

Let me explain before I get a flood of emails saying boat owners face different degrees of winterizing, depending on where the boat is located for storage or mooring:

Along Southern California's coastline, we do not need to protect our boats from freezing conditions, unlike those stored in the mountains and high deserts. If you have a trailer boat stored in these areas, you will have to completely winterize it.

Keep in mind that the temperature plays only a part of how in-depth you will need to perform your winterization. Have you heard about a critter like a raccoon moving aboard a boat for the winter and causing a good amount of damage — which the owners discover in the spring?

Boats that are moored in one of Orange County's three harbors and vessels dry-docked nearby do not need to be completely winterized. Because there are no lasting freezing temperatures, you do not have to worry about lines breaking because of ice. So there's no need to drain your fresh water tanks, add antifreeze or blow out the lines to the boat's plumbing as you would in the mountains.

I do recommend you pump out your holding tank and add an odor treatment product. Another tip is to also dry out your sump pumps to keep the unpleasant odors from the organic gases creeping up the drains.

One of the biggest culprits is mold, which loves to grow in dark, damp areas. Wet towels, swim fins, bedding and cushions — anything that might grow mold — should be taken off your boat. Open all cabinet and shower doors to allow air to circulate, and hang dry towels over the top of the stateroom doors to keep them open.

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