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It was a Lovely Cruise

Iím part of the summer clearance. Iím making way for Ski-doos, snowshoes, and ski-passes. Thatís not to say boating on The Lake is done. Fall on Lake Tahoe is tranquil. The Aspens are quaking in colors of yellow and gold, the air is still, the crowds are gone, and those long sunset shadows would pale any Hallmark card. You just need a sweater or two. But it is time to consider winterizing our boats.

The easiest way to winterize your boat is to take it down the mountain and perhaps use it on the Sacramento Delta or the many lakes in the Central Valley. If you donít plan to use it in the winter months there are important considerations for winterizing your boat. The first one is, the more you do in the fall, the less there is to do in the spring. The second is, the greater the danger of freezing, the more important you pay attention to your boat and your boatís engine fluids. Pull your boatís bilge drain plug. Donít loose it and donít forget to put it back come spring. Change your oil. The old oil in your crankcase contains residual acids and it may contain water. Acids can damage an engine during the winter. Warm the engine, then drain the oil. Replace the filter and fill the crankcase with clean oil. For a boat on land, connect a fresh water adapter to the engine and run the engine for several minutes. This circulates the clean oil to all parts of the engine. While the engine is running, check the filter for leaks.

Gasoline left in engines can cause many problems. Old gas turns to a varnish in your engine, fouling the carburetor and other engine parts. To prevent these problems run all the gasoline out of the engine. If you have a small outboard and use a portable gas tank disconnect the fuel line. Now, run the engine until it is out of fuel. Do this each time you use it and especially at the end of the season. Buy new fuel next season. If you have a built-in tank, stabilize its gas before you put it up for winter. You can get an additive at most marine stores to protect it from deterioration for six months or longer. Now top off your tank, but donít fill it completely. If you do, gasoline will stand in the neoprene fill and vent pipes and it may deteriorate them. If you use diesel fuel, add a deicer and an anti-microbial agent. Algae can grow in diesel fuel and it will ruin your very expensive diesel engine.

Fresh water left in a cooling system will freeze and damage your engine. If you have an outboard or stern-drive leave it in the normal operating position at least until all the water is drained. If you donít have anti-freeze in the closed portion of the cooling system add it now. Fill it with 50% mixture antifreeze and distilled water. Donít use pure anti-freeze. It will gel in very cold weather.

Remove the spark plugs and inspect them. Replace any worn or pitted ones. Store your batteries in cool dry storage. If possible connect them to a trickle charger to keep them fully charged. Make sure there is enough water to cover their plates. If you leave batteries in a boat that is stored outside they will eventually discharge and then freeze. If you plan to leave your boat in the water donít depend on the battery to operate the bilge pump. The pump, battery, or float switch can fail leaving you with a great deal to do come spring.

You must winterize your fresh (drinking) water system. Drain it and then add antifreeze. DO NOT USE ETHYLENE GLYCOL. IT IS EXTREMELY TOXIC! Use non-toxic antifreeze found at most marine supply or mountain hardware stores. If you canít get it many people use cheap vodka just make sure your kids turn twenty-one by next spring.

If your boat has a Head (toilet) and your Head has a holding tank, drain it and then add disinfectant and anti-freeze. Pump the anti freeze through the bowl and into the tank. For particular Heads see the manufacturersí recommendations.

Andy Warhol gave everyone fifteen minutes of fame. Mine came in twelve columns and I had fun I met many people and I relearned how to diagram sentences. I want to thank Ms. P. Patterson Parsons who allowed me to grace these pages and Ms. Emily DeHuff who made me presentable. Oddly enough because of the magic of computers Iíve never met these ladies, but when we do the first one is on me


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