LeBlanc: Tips to prepare your boat for winter

Here we are faced with some cold weather for a few days and some boaters will be thinking about putting their boats away for the winter. And if you are in that group, you need to keep in mind that there is a right and a wrong way to accomplish that operation. Therefore, I like to address the subject and offer a few tips for this time of year.

As far as I am concerned, I would sooner take my rig to a competent boat shop and have them winterize it for me. Even though I grew up om a boat, the modern boating equipment is a little over my head with the high tech bells and whistles for me to be interested in. But if folks want over-engineered equipment who am I to object. After all, it is a free country.

If you want to take care of the task yourself, I have a couple suggestions that may be worth considering. Notice I said a few and not all, because depending on how much boat you have is directly proportionate to the amount of winterizing is necessary.

One of the things to do is to thoroughly clean your boat and that includes scrubbing non-skid areas, decks, and hardware that should be routine maintenance, and sometimes does not get the attention it should during the boating year. As you clean these areas remember that gelcoat is tough, but once scratched can really look terrible. The same can hold true for cleats and other hardware on your boat, so you need to pick the correct brushes for the cleaning job.

I have found that Shurhold offers a set of five different brush types: 6" Combo Deck Brush Soft & Medium, six inch and ten inch Classic Deck Brushes, and five inch and eight inch round Special Application Brushes and each is available with various bristles to match the tool to the specific cleaning need.

The Combo bristle combines the softness of Shurhold's red fibers surrounding coarser yellow that are placed shallower; the more pressure is applied, the harder the center works. The Stiff bristle type is for use below the waterline and on other tough surfaces. Medium is ideal for non-skid, while Soft and Extra Soft are perfect for hulls and similar delicate surfaces.

Another important point to me is that Shurhold brushes are made in the USA and built to last for years of use.

The milled hardwood block with durable finish has a white rubber bumper to protect the boat. Depending on the size of the model, 300-500 holes are drilled and filled with ample tufts of marine-grade filament that's trimmed straight for maximum contact with the deck and hull. The fiber ends are then frayed to retain the maximum amount of soap and water. You can take a look at their complete line of cleaning products at www.shurhold.com.

Preparing a boat for winter storage also involves moving liquids before the cover goes on. It is also important to get rid of water from your tanks where the alien invaders like Giant Salvinia, hydrilla, and Zebra Mussles might lurk to malignantly spread to other water bodies that hide in tank water during the boating season. For those chores you can't beat a pump designed for that purpose for boats.

Beside the water tanks, other fluids can be a chore to remove, but the self-priming Beckson pumps can help eliminate what can normally be a pain in the neck project to a mere annoyance. I am speaking for myself here because I never could warm up to changing fluids and always looked at that as unpleasent but necessary chore. These are non-metallic, so they're safe to use around combustibles and they won't scratch delicate finishes and are made from durable marine plastic, they won't get sticky from corrosion, nor rust.

Beckson's 109PC Siphon-Mate Pump is designed for use with diesel, oil, and water and is a safe alternative to starting a siphon by sucking on a tube. It acts as a positive displacement hand lift pump with valves and will siphon at a flow rate of one gallon per minute through its supplied eight foot of clear tubing. The pump is eleven and one-half inches long, and lifts four fluid ounces per stroke.

The Beckson model 212PC Handy-Mate Oil Change Pump is only twelve and three-quarter inches long and is compact for use in confined spaces. It is impervious to diesel fuel and motor oil, and moves eight fluid ounces with each stroke. The pump comes with two flexible red intake tubes, twenty two inches long by one-half inch in diameter and thirty six inches long by one-quarter inch in diameter, and a ten inch long by one and one-quarter diameter red discharge tube. You can take a look at these items at www.beckson.com.

So folks, those are just a few of the latest products on the market that will help you clean and drain the fluids in your boats before you cover them up for the winter. I can't stress enough how important it is to address what passes for gasoline these days and how important it is to make sure you deal with it properly or you will have a mess to deal with when you take it out next spring.

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