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Two tips for storing boats over the winter from BoatUS

by Scott Croft 28 Sep 13:04 UTC
Phase-separated fuel will cause damage to boat engines and fuel systems © BoatUS

Putting your boat away for the winter soon? The Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS) says recreational boat owners need to take special precautions with storage of E10 (10 percent ethanol) gas, and review their insurance policy to make sure the boat is properly covered. Ethanol fuel can cause problems over the winter, and boats stored inside heated storage facilities may need to consider "ice and freeze coverage" for unexpected power outages.

Here are two tips for helping to ensure your boat comes out of hibernation next spring ready to go:

1. Prepare for ethanol: Unless you use ethanol-free fuels, your boat's gas contains a mixture of up to 10 percent ethanol. Mandated by the Renewable Fuel Standard, this fuel could "phase separate" over long winter storage periods and harm boat engines and fuel systems. If you have a portable gas tank on your boat, try to use as much gas as possible before you put the boat away at the end of the season. Any remaining that's left in the portable tank (unmixed) may be put in your vehicle. Your county's household hazardous waste-collection site may also accept small amounts of gas.

If your boat has a built-in gas tank that cannot be emptied, add a fuel stabilizer and fill the tank, leaving a just a little room for expansion. This will greatly reduce the amount of moisture-laden air that can enter through the tank's vent during seasonal temperature changes and could condense inside tank walls, potentially leading to phase separation.

2. Consider ice and freeze boat insurance coverage: While the ability to store a boat inside a heated building over the long, cold winter is wonderful, consider what would happen if a snowstorm knocked out power and the source of heat died. Ice forming inside nonwinterized engine blocks can lead to big repair bills. This could also be an issue for do-it-yourselfers who fail to winterize properly.

For boaters who live in northern states, protecting yourself with ice and freeze coverage may be a smart option. It's usually not very expensive – BoatUS Marine Insurance offers it for as little as $25 per engine – but understand that most insurers will not offer the coverage once temperatures get cold, usually by the end of October, so check with your provider now. The boat insurance experts at BoatUS Marine Insurance can be reached at (800) 283-2883.

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