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    Tips for properly winterizing your boat's systems.

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    BoatCapsule by CarCapsule is an inflatable bubble that provides safe storage by completely sealing and protecting boats from impact damage, dust, dirt, corrosion, mildew, musty odors, and pests.Perfect for indoor or outdoor storage. BoatCapsule is produced by CarCapsule and works similar to that protector. (see the video)

    Inflation of the BoatCapsule is maintained by a high-pressure fan that provides continuous airflow to keep the boat dry and prevent condensation. Air inside the bubble is completely exchanged with filtered outside air 3-6 times every hour - keeping the temperature inside consistent with the temperature outside and eliminating moisture that could condense on the boat. Bubble creates a cushion that protects the boat from impact damage, scratches, and falling objects. Easy to use and sets up in 7-10 minutes. Made with durable 16 mil PVC for hot and cold weatherability as well as blockage of damaging UV rays. Floor is made from 18 mil PVC that is mildew, abrasion and flame resistant, as well as impervious to oil, gas and coolant. Offered in 16’ and 18’ lengths, and in custom sizes to match your needs. The Ultimate Boat Cover. For more information go to or call (219) 945-9493. For custom size inquiries contact Phil Potocki at or

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  • 11/07/13--10:29: How to Block a Boat
  • How to Block a Boat

    Whether you do it yourself or not, it’s essential for you to know the proper way to block up a boat for storage. Placing a boat on blocks can be dangerous to you and damaging to the boat, if done wrong. If you own a trailerable boat, or have access to a roller trailer, the following tips gleaned from American Boat and Yacht Council guidelines and boatyard pros should prove helpful.

    Select a firm, level piece of ground. Back the rig into place and let out a few feet of winch cable. Now get out and push the boat back off the trailer until it reaches the balance point — the point where a little weight at the transom would cause it to tip aft and slide off the trailer were it not for the winch cable.

    Next, stack masonry blocks — ABYC scorns cinder blocks — beneath the transom corners and under the keel aft. ABYC recommends that a pad of plywood be used beneath blocks on soft ground and that blocks stacked higher than two tiers be cribbed (adjacent tiers stacked perpendicularly). The stack’s height should not exceed 1 1/2 times its base’s length or width, whichever is shorter. Use a piece of wood as a pad between the stack and your boat.

    Now have a helper tip the transom onto the blocks as you gingerly pull forward until the boat is supported by the trailer forward and the blocks aft. Stack blocks along the keel and aft of the stem to a height that allows the cockpit to drain. Pull the trailer out from under.

    You’re not done. ABYC recommends a minimum two sets of keel blocks per boat. Place these, and adjust athwartship trim, with more blocks and wood shims — or for convenience, use adjustable jack stands. The boat’s manufacturer may be able to supply you with the preferred location of the blocks. If not, identify areas where bulkheads are installed and place them there to help distribute the load. Minimum keel block sizes recommended by ABYC are 4 inches by 18 inches for boats shorter than 30 feet (length overall) and 6 inches by 18 inches for boats to 40 feet long. Twelve-by-12-inch blocks are acceptable for any boat.

    If you consider DIY boat blocking, remember that even a small boat is heavy enough to kill you should it fall. Be careful, and call in a pro if you have any doubts. The intent of this article is to relate how it’s done, as well as to disseminate safe practice information for winter boat storage.

    Minimum Width and Length of Keel Blocking
    In all cases, 12-by-12-inch blocks are acceptable. Use wood blocks; barrels and cinder blocks should not be used for keel blocking.

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    Ethanol-laced fuel has changed some of the rules for winterizing marine gasoline systems. When prepping a boat for winter storage, boat owners must now do all they can to avoid phase separation — a phenomenon in which ethanol combines with water and separates from gasoline, descending in a soupy goop to the bottom of the tank. While this can occur at any time, it is more likely to happen when gas is stored for long periods.

    The simplest solution? Avoid using gasoline with ethanol, if possible. There are a few outlets that dispense ethanol-free gas (, but there may not be one nearby. If you can’t avoid ethanol (as most of us cannot), make sure the fuel contains no more than 10 percent, known as E10. Let’s focus on how to prepare such gasoline and related components in an outboard boat for winter.

    Tools and Supplies
    Gasoline stabilizer such as ValvTect Ethanol Fuel Treatment
    Six-gallon remote gas tank
    TC-W3 two-stroke oil
    Engine oil and oil filter (for four-stroke outboards)
    New fuel filter elements
    Filter wrenches (to remove oil and fuel filters)
    Hex-head driver (for replacing hose clamps)
    Large slotted screwdriver (to drain lower-unit lube)
    Oil catcher to recycle old engine oil and gear lube ($19.95,
    Cleanup rags (to wipe up spilled fuel, oil or gear lube)

    Quick Tip
    Avoid hose clamps with the narrower band widths. Instead, use clamps with half-inch band widths for a more secure connection and better seal.

    For complete engine fogging, pull the spark plugs, spray fogging oil into each cylinder and turn the engine over (without starting the engine).

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    Boating Safely In Cold Weather

    I once went tuna fishing in December with a guy who called himself Squid Vicious. It was 38 degrees on the water that day, but even though I was layered to the gills, I have never felt colder. That was the first thing I learned that day, that it’s always colder on the water than you think it will be. The second came courtesy of Squid, who told a story of his electrical system giving out offshore one day when it was below freezing, and the utter realization that no one else was on the water or even remotely thinking about going out. He told himself at the time, between his desperate string of expletives, that he had never felt more alone in his life. Obviously, he made it home, but it drove home the second point: When it comes to boating in winter, main-season expectations don’t apply. Here are a few other things to take note of should you decide to hit the water this winter.

    Bye-Bye, Buoys
    In cold weather climes, the U.S. Coast Guard replaces its regular aid-to-navigation buoys with smaller, more basic buoys. This is because the buoys are prone to damage from ice floes or upheaval from strong winter storms. So instead of large cans with lights or sound signaling devices to help guide you through a navigable channel, you’ll have to try to make your way through harder-to-find winter buoys. This can make things tricky at night or in low-light conditions, so expect to rely more on your electronics to guide your way, and proceed with caution.

    Leave a Trace
    As Squid Vicious found out, if you get in a jam in cold weather, there may not be anyone else around to help you. That’s why it’s imperative to tell someone your plans — specifically where you are going and how long you plan to be out. Tell that person, or people, that you’ll call or text as soon as you get off the water. That way, they’ll know when they don’t hear from you that it’s time to find out where you are, and whether you need help.

    Keep It Charged
    The colder it gets, the more prone your boat’s batteries are to losing their charge. So whether your boat is in a slip or on a trailer, it’s important to keep the batteries hooked up to a maintenance charger so they’ll have enough juice to get the boat started and run your electronics on the water. On that note, if you’re out on the water and you shut down the engine and the alternator isn’t refreshing the battery, keep your electronics use to a minimum to ensure you have enough juice to get started again.

    Snow Loads
    Your boat might be self-bailing, but snow won’t drain out of the scuppers. If it snows, go down to your boat and shovel it out: The weight of snow can force drains and through-hull fittings under­water, back-flooding your boat.

    Cold Boating Fashion
    The old saw for boating in the off-season is to dress for the water, not the weather. That can be taken two ways. Often it feels at least 10 to 15 degrees colder on the water than it does on land. If it’s 40 degrees in the backyard, dress like it will be 30 degrees on the water. Secondly, water robs the body of heat 25 times faster than air does, and a person immersed in 50-degree water can reach exhaustion in less than 30 minutes. Wear water-wicking base layers with a waterproof and windproof outer layer, and — please — wear a life jacket.

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    Snaps pulling out from boat covers and tops are a common event, especially in autumn when dropping temperatures cause fabrics to contract and stress snaps. Take heart! In many cases you can repair the snap yourself. Here are basic steps for replacing the female snap on the canvas using the simplest, least expensive tools. For more canvas and snap how-to, visit boating​

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    Even the best marine canvas loses its ability to shed water over time. For a boat with 12-month exposure to the weather, refreshing its waterproof surface is a good annual project. For boats that spend most of their downtime under roof or shrink-wrap, two to three years is a wise interval before reapplying ­waterproofing. What works best? BoatingLAB challenged the top six brands to show their stuff.

    How We Tested
    Our test platform was a Markham coated-fabric mooring cover. Eight years of Florida sun had faded it and made it leaky, but its fabric and stitching remained sound. Before testing our products, we scrubbed the cover with a stiff brush and detergent and then pressure-washed it using a wide, nonabrasive fan-spray pattern. We scrubbed it again with an oxygen-based mildew cleaner. After it dried we brushed it and then used a leaf blower to remove all accumulated dust. Dirt and dust left on the cover or trapped in the fibers serve as a conduit to water.

    Treating the Fabric
    We stretched the fabric over a 2-by-10-foot table and marked off a 2-square-foot test area for each product. Using a garden sprayer, we misted each section of fabric with a different product, first in a crossed diagonal pattern and then, after drying, in a vertical-and-horizontal pattern.

    Water Beading Test
    Water should bead and stand on a fully waterproof fabric. We tilted the table 2 inches across the width. We misted the untreated fabric with a hose from 4 feet away, allowing the water to fall like rain. After the test area was fully wetted, we observed absolutely no beading, indicating a complete failure of its waterproofing agents. No surprise there after eight years. This was our baseline, and the test would be conducted again after treatment. Our scoring system for this test was:

    Good = 1 point
    Better = 2 points
    Best = 3 points

    Water Column Test
    Fabric makers test waterproof status by standing a column of water on the fabric. We added water until it leaked, requiring it to hold the water back 10 seconds before six drops ­appeared on the underside. The same scoring system was used:

    Good = 1 point Better = 2 points
    Best = 3 points

    Color Shift
    While all test products darkened the treated fabric slightly, we did not find it to be objectionable. We thought it was noteworthy but not a point of concern for users.

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  • 09/28/15--08:54: Installing a Boat Heater
  • A boat heater can help extend your boating season by keeping crew members comfy when there’s a chill in the air. One of the most effective for inboard or sterndrive boats is the Heater Craft hydronic marine heater, which works much like your car heater, using hot cooling water from the engine and a variable-speed fan to feed warm air to vents at various places in the boat.

    Before installation, lay out the system to make sure the mounting location of the heating unit and the routing of the hoses will work. You might also need to adapt some of the plumbing fittings depending on how the cooling system on your particular inboard engine is configured. Here’s an example of how we installed the twin-outlet 28,000 Btu Heater Craft 200 Pro kit on a 24-foot cuddy cabin boat.

    Getting Started
    Skill Level: 3.5/5
    Time to Complete: 6 Hours

    *Heater Craft 200 Sport Kit with twin heating vents, ducting, brass fittings, heater hose, hose clamps ($499.99; heater​
    *Brass shut-off valves (2) for  plumbing on the engine ($19.99 each; westmarine​.com)
    *Phillips screwdriver
    *Power drill and bits
    *1-inch hole saw (for access holes to run the heater hoses)
    *3-inch hole saw (for the louvered vent mounting)
    *4-inch hole saw (for Hot Tube vent mounting)
    *Extra plastic wire ties for supporting hoses and ducting
    *Open- or box-end wrench set
    *Hose cutter
    *Wire cutter
    *Wire stripper
    *Crimping tool
    *Teflon plumbers tape
    *Marking pencil

    Quick Tip: If you’re tapping into a closed cooling system for the hot-water and return hoses, make sure the heating unit is mounted below the radiator cap. Otherwise, trapped air might block the circulation of water through the heating system.

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  • 09/28/15--12:48: Fall Foliage By Boat

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  • 10/08/15--09:01: Block Your Boat Trailer
  • If you plan to keep your boat on a trailer for winter or other long-term storage period, it’s a good idea to block up the trailer. This takes the strain off the suspension system and deters tire rot and flat-spotting, saving you money and extending the longevity of your trailer and its components, whether you store your boat trailer on a paved surface or not.

    This also thwarts would-be thieves, who’d have a hard time stealing your boat and trailer without wheels. At the same time, it gives you a good opportunity to thoroughly inspect and, if necessary, replace or rebuild components such as the brakes, wheel bearings, hydraulic surge actuator, trailer lights, suspension system and more.

    Blocking the trailer is a relatively simple process, provided you have the right tools and equipment. Here’s how to get it done, using a tandem axle holding a 25-foot deck boat as an example.

    Getting Started
    Skill Level: 2/5
    Time to Complete: 3 Hours

    *3-ton floor jack ($97.99,
    *Four 2¼-ton adjustable height jack stands ($14.99/pair,
    *20-inch star lug-nut wrench ($18.99,
    *2-by-14 solid lumber for support under jack stands
    *Four wheel chocks ($10.99 each,
    *Chain and shackles

    Quick Tip: When you put the wheels back on and lower the trailer frame next season, the chains supporting the axles will also automatically loosen up again, making them easy to remove.

    Off-Season Maintenance
    With the trailer wheels removed and the frame on jack stands, now is a good time to inspect the trailer for needed maintenance and repairs. Here are some of the critical items to check.

    Use a wire brush to remove spots of rust, then thoroughly clean with denatured alcohol and apply two coats of corrosion-inhibiting primer. Finish off with a coat of paint that matches your trailer.

    Check and replace any wires or connections that look frayed or corroded. If there are multiple repairs, it might be easier to run an entirely new wiring harness. Now is also a good time to replace any burned-out lights.

    Pull off the wheel hubs and inspect the bearings and seals. If in doubt, replace them. Repack with fresh grease.

    Check the brake pads and replace them if they have less than 1/8-inch of useful life left. Have drum brakes turned. If disc brakes are scored, have them turned as well.

    Coupler/Surge Actuator
    Make sure the coupler is in good condition and that the surge-brake actuator operates properly and is free of leaks. Check the brake lines for leaks too, and replace any that show excessive corrosion or look faulty. Top off the system with brake fluid.

    Bow Winch
    Check the winch to make sure it is operating properly and that the winch strap or cable and bow hook are in good condition.

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    We used Star brite Hull Cleaner yesterday and were pleased with the results. As the photo sequence shows, we sprayed it on a scum line that had built up over a season. The gel formula stayed put ( mostly) on the vertical hullside. Then we watched it dissolve the brown scum in seconds. Then we rinsed away the residue. No scrubbing or elbow grease was required.

    Star brite Hull Cleaner

    Photo by Kevin Falvey

    Star brite Hull Cleaner_2

    Photo by Kevin Falvey

    Star brite Hull Cleaner_3

    Photo by Kevin Falvey

    Bonus Wear eye protection when using hull cleaners. And also wear gloves--we didn't in the above picture and our hands stung from overspray ( and we knew better!)

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    Repair Canvas Snaps

    Basic steps for repairing canvas snaps.

    Basic steps for repairing canvas snaps.

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    How to Winterize Ballast Tanks

    Protect your ballast system by properly winterizing it.

    Protect your ballast system by properly winterizing it.

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  • 08/16/16--12:54: Winterizing Outboards
  • Try these shortcuts when prep time is short but winter is long.

    Try these shortcuts when prep time is short but winter is long.

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  • 09/28/15--08:54: Installing a Boat Heater
  • Keep your crew toasty by using this guide to install a boat heater.

    Keep your crew toasty by using this guide to install a boat heater.

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  • 10/13/16--08:45: Choose the Right Boat Cover
  • There’s a long and varied list of factors that determine which boat cover is best for you.

    There’s a long and varied list of factors that determine which boat cover is best for you.

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    Stay warm on the water by choosing the right portable heater.

    Stay warm on the water by choosing the right portable heater.

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    Star tron winter fuel tips

    Star brite Offers Tips For Storing Marine Fuel

    Star brite offers tips for winterizing your boat's fuel supply.

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    How to Winterize Ballast Tanks

    Protect your ballast system by properly winterizing it.

    Protect your ballast system by properly winterizing it.

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  • 08/16/16--12:54: Winterizing Outboards
  • Try these shortcuts when prep time is short but winter is long.

    Try these shortcuts when prep time is short but winter is long.

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