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In colder climates, such as here in New England, boats are usually removed from the water for storage over the winter. It is important that vessels are properly prepared for storage to ensure that all parts and systems are protected from the weather and are not harmed from the lack of use. This process, referred to as winterizing or decommissioning, can impact the environment if not done properly. Oil may spill during an oil change, fuel can degrade if not stabilized, soaps and detergents can harm marine life, bottom paint can wash into the water during pressure washing, and boat sewage can pollute coastal waters if not disposed of properly. The following information gives specific tips to winterize your vessel in an environmentally sensitive manner.
The first step to most winterizing efforts is to get your boat out of the water. Here are some issues to consider before hauling your vessel.
Fuel and oil degrade marine water quality and are toxic to humans and marine life. Proper winterizing is important to eliminate oil spills and ensure that fuel is stored properly. These simple steps can help you with fuel and oil winterizing.
It is important to properly winterize the engine cooling and drinking-water systems on vessels to ensure that engine blocks and plumbing do not freeze and crack. It is important to drain each system as much as possible. Be sure to fill each with non-toxic antifreeze. Never use automotive antifreeze (ethylene glycol), which is toxic to the environment and can cause serious illness if used in drinking-water systems.
When cleaning above the waterline, be sure to use an environmentally friendly soap (or water and elbow grease). See CZM's Get Your Home Squeaky Green-Clean for details.
Before sealing up your boat in shrink wrap, make sure your marina has a shrink wrap recycling program for both fall and spring. Be sure to keep shrink wrap separate from other waste and remove all ropes, tie-downs, zippers, or plastic vents. For small facilities and do-it-yourselfers, Dr. Shrink has a recycling program.
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