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Bit of an emergency here....advice from our Northern Captains >>>

1911tex

Sustaining Member
Record breaking sub freezing temps in Central Texas every day, state totally unprepared....been one week of 0 degrees to 16 degrees and another bad one due tonight...however will thaw out this weekend. I don't know what to expect at my sailboat.

Lake temps have remained in the upper 50's due to a very deep lake. That "may" be positive? I left heat on; however, there have been rolling blackouts, some up to 15 hours. Heat has to be manually restarted when electrics go off, so no heat for several days.

NOTE: All thru-hulls were closed. Boat inaccessible due to roads with black ice under 7"+ snow. Engine has fresh antifreeze, but what about the fresh water within the block? What about the 3, 20 gallon fresh water tanks which I pumped all I could prior to freeze, but may be 12-15 gals remaining in each?

Lots of questions here; however, with the rolling blackouts, internet is hap-hazard and with the rolling blackouts, I have to rush through this post before all goes down again.

I have full appreciation of what ya'll go through up North now. Never experienced this before! May be a while before I have internet and/or electricity again. I know I will need to be present at the boat when everything thaws to watch for anything bursting and water going into the bilge...and manually pumping it out. Adios....
 

Christian Williams

E381 - Los Angeles
Moderator
Blogs Author
For what it's worth, my boat in Annapolis was occasionally caught in cold snaps, with ice to stand on all around. Never had any damage to fresh water lines, although rain water in the bilge froze solid (and stayed frozen for a month).

We gotta sleep at night.
 

Bolo

Member III
My E32-3 is wintering in the water (like I usually do) in Annapolis, MD. Now that's not someplace like Chicago but it still can get mighty cold with ice and snow. Every year I drain all of the tanks (fresh, hot water heater and gray water) and fill (just the water tanks) with -50 degree anti-freeze which I run through all the plumbing on the hot and cold side. I also add anti-freeze to the inner scuppers E32-3's have four scuppers in the cockpit which goes to a through hole in the galley and I block off those scuppers too so no rain or melted snow gets into the hoses. I had a split in one hose once because of freezing. The engine is also winterized by way of pumping antifreeze though the fresh water intake (I even installed a bypass valve there that allows me to put a hose down into a gallon jug of the stuff without removing the intake hose from the seacock) until I see "pink stuff" coming out of the exhaust. I do make monthly visits to the boat during the winter months (I live in PA) to check the bilges and other things. The mast bilge on the E32 almost alway has water in it and there is a little water in the main bilge because of a leak I've yet to track down when it rains. Because of this I also put some antifreeze into the bilge to keep anything from freezing up.

Once in awhile, when I have the boat hauled out for the winter and it's on the hard the bilges will freeze up along with the bilge switches and bilge water. In fact, last year I had to boil some antifreeze on the stove to pour into the mast bilge to clear it up. I'm sure that this is because the hull was out of the water and exposed to the freezing air. So, with your boat in the water I think you'll be OK. My bilges never froze while the boat was in the water for the winter. That said it might be a good idea for you to winterize the boat with antifreeze and beyond that have good boat insurance. Is there ice around the boat at the slip? I've had thin ice form around my hull but the bilge water never froze up. I do have a standing order with my marina from them to shovel out my cockpit if there is a big snow storm or lots of ice so that the outer scupper stay clear.
 

nquigley

Member III
I think your main concern will be, 'what unintended consequences might result when I open seacocks?'
Check them all for cracks in their tail fittings and hoses before, or when, opening them.
Don't leave the boat for an hour or so after opening seacocks - checking for new puddles n the bilges from unseen splits in hoses, connections, etc.

If you didn't run pink antifreeze through your raw water strainer like Bolo recommended, and if your on-board heating failed, the water in there may have frozen, expanded and cracked the glass or plastic reservoir. Or, as happened to me once, it also sheared one of the vertical brass rods/nuts that clamp the lid onto the reservoir.
When that lump of ice thaws, it will leak onto the bilges - this is only a problem if you don't notice it before opening the raw water seacock - then the lake will try to fill your bilges.
 

Dave G.

1984 EY30+ Ludington, MI
Tex if you can put a portable heater on board that would work. I'm guessing the water temp is still pretty high so that would help. If you think the freshwater will freeze you need to pump RV/Boat freshwater antifreeze through your systems and into your holding tanks. With the engine I pull the hose off at the seawater pump then connect a 3' 3/4" hose to pump inlet and stick it in a bucket of Rv/Marine Antifreeze(Ethyl Alcohol/Glycol). Start engine and run until antifreeze runs pure out the exhaust in transom. Mine takes about 2 gallons to treat yours could be more depending on length of exhaust and size of muffler. If you don't have an extra hose and there is space you can pull the intake hose off the seacock and put it in the bucket but be sure to close the seacock. But if you can't get to the boat I guess none of this helps...hopefully the lake water will keep the engine just warm enough to prevent hard freeze damage.
 

toddster

Curator of Broken Parts
Blogs Author
I usually pump antifreeze into the raw water loops as noted above. (There is a permanent hose Tee in the system for this purpose.)
But FWIW, one year I was out of the country when a sudden unexpected polar vortex event happened. Overnight change from 50F to 0F. There was nothing that I could do about it, but the boat came through just fine. Lost a bit of boot-stripe paint to the ice. But the water below the ice was definitely warmer than usual.
 

Tom Metzger

Sustaining Partner
I just looked at the weather forecast and you don't have a problem going forward. With water temperature in the 50s and the boat closed up I don't think you have sustained any damage.

BTW, there is no fresh water in the block. Now about the heat exchanger... Just kidding. I wouldn't worry about it.

The pic must have been from Northern Texas. ;)
 

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Double Tap

Member II
Hopefully your prop shaft will act as a conductor with the warmer water temp and transfer to the trans and engine. At least, to a degree. (Pun)

Hopefully it’ll be ok & I know your concern. Siting at home, thinking..waiting..thinking. Keep us posted.
 

Kenneth K

Contributing Partner
Blogs Author
Hopefully, what Tom said.

To me the highest threat item, in terms of cost and consequences, is the raw water heat exchanger. Check for bulges all along the cylinder. Mine had bulges near the removable end-cap when I got it, and therefore never sealed right and leaked. I had a shop grind it true when I had it removed and cleaned out.

Rubber hose will give; plastic, maybe but less so when cold. Metal splits open, but only under a very solid freeze. Best of luck.
 

toddster

Curator of Broken Parts
Blogs Author
Someone just sent me this photo with a caption claiming that it's Kemah, TX 2/15/21
image1.jpeg
 

1911tex

Sustaining Member
Just recovered from another 4 hour rolling blackout...another due soon. Folks you helped my constantly worrying mind! I can't thank you enough for excellent advice!

Toddster: Kemah is Houston area. When I left the boat 5 days ago, it started looking like that picture...almost fell into the drink in the icy pier leaving to go home.

Note our normal temps this time of year is 55 nights, 70 days....with maybe a 32 degree overnight 2-3 times a winter. This is a radical departure and totally unexpected! Our last bugger cold spell even close was 1949 according to the news...and only lasted a couple of days. Now 5 days into this !@#$%^ blizzard...the last of which is tonight and tomorrow. Black ice on hard surfaces with 7"+ snow on top and another inch of black ice on top of that from last night. Everything is at a standstill. Surface water temp still 57 degrees.

Supposed to be normal 70 degrees this weekend when I plan to be aboard following your well appreciated instructions and monitoring the bilge for anything freeze busted.

Never knew about pouring antifreeze into the the engine freshwater system.

Will report back later this weekend. I do have marine insurance if that means anything at this point.
Expecting another rolling blackout any moment.....Ya'll are the best and again heartfelt thank you! Here is our Lake Travis report:
Larry
 

debonAir

Member III
With the boat closed up the lake water temp will beat the outside air temp all day since water conducts a lot better than air. I'd say you probably have nothing to worry about. One winter I went to check on mine and discovered a window had opened and rain water flowing off the mast, across the cabin top, into the window had nearly filled the bilge to one inch below the floor and froze solid. The bilge was like a giant ice cube tray and the ice caused no damage I could see since it just expanded up the hull sides. The rest of the boat was properly winterized so no trouble there. What you could do is run your engine for a bit once or twice a day to keep the insides warmer and warm water in all the fresh water paths.
 

Kenneth K

Contributing Partner
Blogs Author
Never knew about pouring antifreeze into the the engine freshwater system.
Just make sure you do it with the engine actually running, and not just cranking over. Without the exhaust pressure of a running engine, you risk filling the lift muffler and exhaust hose and water- locking the pistons.

Speaking of the lift muffler, I think the Northeast guys who haul-out during the winter either drain the muffler first, or run a second gallon through the system. Any water dilution of the antifreeze seriously degrades the freeze protection.
 

Kenneth K

Contributing Partner
Blogs Author
Not that I worry about it that much in Seattle, but freeze protection used to be standard on my boat insurance until last year, then Geico made it an add-on rider.

In the fine print, it said freeze coverage only applies to engine systems if the engine was "professionally" winterized.

I don't pay for the coverage.
 

Dave G.

1984 EY30+ Ludington, MI
Gee insurance companies(and lawmakers) opting out of coverages, that never happens does it ? What a racket and oh the "industry"was started by gangsters too !
 

Loren Beach

O34 - Portland, OR
Senior Moderator
Blogs Author
Your bilge and engine intake area is likely different, but here is the system I installed a couple decades ago. With the 3-way valve I can draw in pink antifreeze, and it only takes a few minutes, and is done after first warming up the engine.
An idea for you next upgrade, perhaps?
 
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