How to prevent damage to boat in freezing weather

  • Profile photo of ptcptc
    Apple Valley/Isle, MN
    Posts: 325

    Usually around this time of year, I store my boat. But this year I am not. So, I am looking for advice regarding what to do and what NOT to do when on the water in freezing weather.

    In particular, I am worried about water in the inlets of my livewell getting into the pumps and freezing. How best to prevent that?

    What else should I know?


    Catfish country
    Posts: 421

    If you’re done using it for the winter, I would run some antifreeze in your pumps to keep them from freezing and treat you gas with stable. Hook up your attachment from your garden hose to your water intake on your motor, start it up with the cover off, unplug your gas line from the motor, and start straying some fogging agent into your carb(s) let it run till she quits, then remove your plug(s) and squirt a little more fogging agent into the cylinders. Engine is ready for winter now. I would also suggest draining your lower unit and refilling it. I also over inflate the tires on the trailer a bit, just to keep them from going flat due to the fact that it is summer air in them and as the temp falls so does the pressure inside them.
    That’s all I do, hopefully I haven’t forgotten anything.

    Hope this helps,


    St. Paul, Mn
    Posts: 10,935

    Immediately after pulling your boat out of the water, lower your motor all the way down. Then, either pull your starter rope or turn the motor over with the ignition. (If motor starts, that’s ok. Just hit the kill switch) Doing this will spin the impeller and force all of the water out of your water pump and lower unit. Let it sit for a few more minutes till you are certain all the water has drained from the lower unit.

    Next, if you have used your electric t-motor, give the prop a few spins to make sure there is no water holding in the plastic prop.

    I have never personally had a problem with bilge or livewell pumps being damaged by freezing weather. I do not use them in freezing weather. I basically let them freeze up. However, if you are worried, you can do the following… Plug the intake lines with a rubber stopper. I’d even take it a step further and put a little sealant on the stopper plug. Then pour a little RV antifreeze into your livewell and bilge area and turn the pumps over a few time. Then leave it alone till spring. For me, I simply pull the bilge plug and let any water that is in there drain out!

    One thing I have been trying to do once I get home is take a wet rag and wipe off any road salt that has sprayed on the trailer or hull. Helps in keeping the trailer from rusting.

    That’s about it… one more thing! Look out for floating chunks of ice! Hitting one can put a pretty good ding in the hull.


    St. Paul, Mn
    Posts: 10,935

    More thoughts on winter boating….

    As a courtesy to the next guy who shows up at the ramp, let the water drain from your boat trailer before pulling up the ramp. That is both launching and loading!

    I keep a 5 gallon bucket of Salt/Sand mix in the truck just in case the ramp has turned to an ice rink.

    I have a 2 wheel drive pickup, so I keep a set of tire chains with me. Also bring a tow strap.

    I bring a shovel and an ice chisel in case there is snow or ice to be removed. Especially a “Lip” of ice at the rivers edge.

    Spray silicone is useful for keeping the t-motor shaft from freezing in up or down position. W-d 40 works well too.

    If you have console steering, it’s a good idea to spray w-d 40 on the linkages directly in front of the motor. This will help keep the steering from freezing.

    Let your motor warm up fully. If you don’t see a stream of water from the “pee hole” right away don’t panic. The water pump is probably working OK, it probably just the frozen line from your motor to the exit hole. Once the motor gets warmed up, the line will thaw out and you should have a water stream from the pee hole.

    I run Sea Foam in the gas all winter. Treats the fuel in case we have one of those month long cold snaps where the river pretty much freezes over.

    Ice won’t hurt the boat! Just ask the guys who fished the “Freeze Your Butt Off” Tourney this spring. Bill Cadwell, can you re-post the pics from that day? LOL

    Jon J.

    Profile photo of Dean MarshallDean Marshall
    Hager City, WI
    Posts: 5,020

    I think you mean this day….

    St. Paul, Mn
    Posts: 10,935

    Yep, that’s it Steve!! Thanks for posting that pic.


    Profile photo of lundgeyelundgeye
    Rochester, Minnesota
    Posts: 1,210

    Two more things I did not see posted, one…to grease the linkage on the motor to force out water and refills the cavity with grease,
    and two, maybe only on Yamaha 4 strokers, the flush tube MUST BE removed, and allowed to drain (usually about 1/2 cup of water in it)
    or the hose will freeze/crack under the cowling. I also take my prop off to check for wrapped line, and the seal’s condition although
    milky grease in the gearcase will show water got in and the seal may be suspect. I grease the prop shaft before putting the prop back on.
    My motors looked like the posted picture here several times up at Rainy a couple weeks ago. THe kicker looked looked like a huge popscicle
    hanging off the back most of the time.

    Profile photo of bill_cadwellbill_cadwell
    Rochester, Minnesota
    Posts: 10,269

    You know Jon I bought Nates boat shortly after that tournament and both the boat and I are still alive and kickin! Hopefully both smarter too I hope. lol Thanks for the pic of the boat Big Dad and Robby used. Brings back some brrrr memories.

    Washington, Ia.
    Posts: 231

    PTC……Until it gets extremely cold, I’ve got a buddy who uses this method. He has a Sears Shop Vac that has a 2 1/2 horse motor on it. It has a 2″ hose that he sticks right in the livewell drains and sucks the water out. You can feel the water as it comes up the hose. He has done this for years without any problems. When out severals days when the boat is on land at night, this works great. As far as other things, there has been alot of great ideas by these guys.

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