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Leaving your boat in the water worst case scenario


Horton
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If somebody leaves their boat in the water and the temperatures get down into the mid-20s - what are the odds of water intake or something else freezing and then boat going to the bottom of the lake?

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Let's be clear we're not talking about my boat. This is purely a what-if scenario question. I would never leave my boat in the water in the winter.

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If it was a single night of mid twenties and the lake was not frozen already, the block and heater core (if equipped) would be at risk of incurring damage - assuming you didn’t drain them, but I don’t think any aspect of the raw water loop could result in cracking and sinking the boat. If equipped with a shut off valve at the pick up before the strainer - close it to eliminate that issue.

 

Also keep in mind the impeller acts as a stop to the raw water flow if the engine isn’t turning. So on my 196 its the strainer, rubber hoses and transmission cooler that are between the pick up and the RWP. The strainer bowl is plastic, that could crack and leak...

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Not worth the risk. Even though the water temp is above freezing the temp of the motor will meet the air temp and freeze the water contained in it. The RWP acts as a stop while not running however the line from the water pick up to RWP, engine water pump, block, heater (if equipped) and exhaust will still be full of water and freezing. I would think potential for sinking does exist, as there is potential for ice to crack anything that freezes. If the ice inside does not act as as dam you could then be taking on water.
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How fast a boat freezes has more to do with windchill than absolute temperatures. A calm sunny 20 degree day vs a windy 20 degree night are vastly different when it comes to freezing as the wind moves the heat energy out of the block.

 

A bulb does great but when windy wont keep up unless you throw a blanket over the box.

 

A boat wont freeze at 33 degrees no matter the windchill but will freeze fast at 31 in a 0 degree windchill and slowly at 25 with a 25 wind chill (no wind)

 

Water won't flow in if the crack is ab9ve the exterior water line. Thats why you can take an intake hose off a raw water pump and it wont spew.

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@Rednucleus That us a GREAT idea! I would say at least 6 for the course and a bunch more for the approaches and tum islands. A couple miles of really big extension cords, and a HUGE electric bill with all of those 3/4 horse electric motors running:) But if you did that you wouldn't get to ice skate through the course!jwyugr97t6c6.jpeg

 

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Me and my friends discuss this all the time, there are so many scenarios to consider and be weary of. We’ve discussed a scenario where if you had to you could run your boat for 20 minutes and we bet the risidual heat after shutting it down would probably get you through a night-yknow if one were to let it get to that extreme. Many scenarios to consider.
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Regarding wind chill, the formula for the rate of heat transfer between two bodies is directly proportional to the difference in temperature between them. In calm conditions the air immediately surrounding the engine block warms up as heat flows from the block to the air, which then decays the transfer rate. With the clamshell up, a strong wind would constantly move the warmed up air away from the block, hence maintaining the maximum transfer rate dictated by the difference in temp.

 

This is why climbers and mountaineers wear goretex shells that both water and windproof, the shell prevents the wind from cutting into your fuzzy warm layers underneath and removing the warm air trapped there.

 

I would argue the clamshell over the engine is a pretty effective wind block.

 

Good point about the crack in the cooling loop would need to be below the waterline to draw water in.

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It depends. Is your boat in an enclosed boathouse with a closed garage door? If yes, and assuming the water is not frozen and further assuming the boathouse is enclosed to the waterline, the inside boathouse temperature will stay roughly equal to the water temperature. If the water is 40 and the outside temp drops to 20, you, your boat and your heater core are fine. I wouldn’t rely on that for a winter but short term I wouldn’t give it a second thought.

 

Otherwise, in that same scenario, a 100 watt light bulb under the motor box will keep the motor from freezing and a second light and a blanket will protect your heater core as long as it’s not too cold. I’ve had my boat freeze in with a light on the motor and I was fine. Caveat: that was with fluorescent bulbs. I haven’t tried that trick with LED or halogen bulbs.

 

If you have an outboard or an I/O, the metal parts of the motor will stay the temperature of the water if the water is warmer than the air. Your rubber water lines will freeze, though, so bring a hair dryer when you go to start it up.

 

Why would you leave boats in that late in the season? Easy. Deer hunting the Adirondacks.

Lpskier

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@jimski You are right. That would be really hard to ski behind. You'd have to wait months for a waterski ride there. Hopefully you drained the block properly on that engine.

 

I've never seen or heard of a cracked hull from ice damage (I check the salvage boats too often). Possible but lots of things have to go wrong.

 

Worst case for leaving the boat in the water in the winter that I've done is the algae slime that builds up below the waterline. Lots of hydrochloric acid and elbow grease to bring it back. But this probably isn't what @Horton meant.

 

Eric

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Am I missing something on this whole "temporary cold snap" thing? Why not just spend the 10 minutes to drain the block and blow out the heater hose, shower, etc.? On my boat, I installed radiator flush tees (with the screw cap) on the heater hose and automotive radiator drains on the block. No tools required to drain the block and heater quickly. I can use the tube inflator to push some air through the heater hose/core and use the shower pump to clear those lines somewhat. About the only issue requiring tools (a screwdriver or nut driver) would be to remove the hoses on the water pump and trans cooler. Seems like a low effort task overall to be more confident of getting through the issue. It's not full winterization, but it's only to get through a very short span of time and I would sleep better having done it.

 

On the photo of the boat and jet ski that are completely iced in, I can't help but wonder if there was some sort of family emergency that kept them from performing the seasonal boat care tasks. Either that, or they have plenty of money and just don't care.

The worst slalom equipment I own is between my ears.

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What are the odds of sinking the boat? I would say very, very low. BUT...as some people have said there are a lot of variables at play. Since you said that the boat is in the water, we know the late temp is above 32 and I think we can assume it will stay above freezing or else the whole thread is silly. With that said, on my lake we sometimes lower our boats into the water if we are going to have a short freeze at night. The water temp will protect the engine and the water intake. Even better, run the engine and then leave it in the water. No change one night in the 20's will do anything. If it's going to stay below 20 for a decent amount of time (let's say 24 hours), you might want to run the engine multiple times or do some strategic draining even while it's sitting in the water. Again, the boat has virtually no chance of sinking but the manifolds or heater could get cracked.

 

Long term solution is of course different. I have quick drains on all parts of my 409. I can drain in less than 2 mins. In addition I have an engine heater just in case there is residual water. I now can keep the boat in from late March to early November even though there will be tons of sub freezing temps...and I don't wake up six times at night wondering what the hell I have done to my boat. Previously, I had went down to the boat at 430 in the morning to start it after waking in a cold sweat after looking at the thermometer showing low 20's!

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@Gus - that's actually kind of hard to pull off, if its actually drained it won't have residual water, to get residual water to specifically stay in the block there is user error going on.

I've seen many destroyed from a user failure to pull the drain petcocks and get the yuck out, so they open the drains and think the thing is empty but still have water in their block, sometimes these will run for awhile and then plug up acting like they're dry. And I've seen tactics from blowgun nozzles on an airhose, but nothing is really a direct substitute for pulling the petcocks out of the block to drain it.

 

Where water is more frequently missed is in the hoses/pumps. Its that reason why I almost always push antifreeze through it with the drains open to make sure I see pink juice out the block drains - ensures there wasn't a blocked drain anywhere.

 

What we used to see a fair bit at the Marina were boats that were leaking hot water into the bilge - you'd idle the boat and crawl around under there and find pushed out knock out plugs where people had poured a couple of gallons of pink antifreeze into the block but hadn't drained - that will sort of make an antifreeze slushy on cold nights and push out the plugs.

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@oldjeep never in the 45 or years of being in this buisness have I ever heard of a boat burning up due to a trouble light under the oil pan.

 

Drain cocks are a good idea except where knock sensors are installed. Never off set the knock sensor to install a drain cock. So then if one wants to drain engine blocks and manifold a correct knock sensor socket is required to remove the units.

The new PCM di engines come with complete drain system and even a handy rack to store the plastic plugs.

 

Ran into one a couple years ago a guy had a heated garage that he kept his boat in and never winterized it.... went on a winter ski vacation and the power went out and when he came back to find not only busted water pipes in his house but also a cracked engine in his boat..

 

In the mean time here in the Florida Mountains we will continue to use trouble lights and let the boat down in the water when jack frost comes a calling..

 

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@Jody_Seal I have, however, burned cookies in an EZ Bake oven powered by a 100w lightbulb. Kid's ovens which are far too dangerous to sell nowadays. There is a concentrated heat source in the light - is our current society too risk averse to tolerate it?

 

It's actually a moot point as 100w light bulbs are a thing of the past. That LED bulb won't heat itself up. But the talcum powder jury will find that they ruined your boat - or caused cancer.

 

Use common sense with any heat source in an engine and Jody will get another 45 years of no burned winterized boats. Of course, too much common sense and Jody won't have any major projects to repair.

 

Just move somewhere where it never freezes...

 

Eric

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I agree with @BraceMaker about the clogged petcock issue. I ski all winter in central Texas and never fully winterize the boat. I just drain the block, exhaust manifolds and heater for the cold snaps. I pull the knock sensor out on the right side of the block and open the drain cock on the left....more often than not, the drain cock clogs with rust and scale and I have to pull it out too.

Another interesting thing to note: I rent a lift slip in a marina and noticed once last winter when I went out to work on the boat that about two thirds of the folks on my row (about 10 or 12) had wires running under their covers for heater or shop light. Enough people were on the circuit to trip the breaker so everyone that didn't drain was at risk. I was able to get the circuit reset for them before I left, but I know I won't rely on the power in that marina to save my block.

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We had a couple boats get frozen in the marina during a cold minus 20 degree cold snap one November. The engines were properly winterized and were not damaged. A couple of the boats had the thru-the-hull water pick-up pipes freeze in the boat, just below the ball valve & sea strainer. When the weather went above freezing and the ice in the pipes melted..... the water started to flow into the boats and they sank. Many boats that stay in the water with deicers below them, put Styrofoam down the water pickup pipe to prevent this from happening.
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@MDB1056 bingo.

 

For example my block heater is on my tractor and plugged in, its 0 degrees outside with -20-30 windchill. I dont need the antifreeze to protect to -30 just to 0. But due to the windchill I have a movers blanket wrapped over my hood to block wind so it holds heat.

 

Where windchill matters is that you need more wattage to offset the windchill.

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