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Thread: hauling boat in below freezing weather

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Posts
    2

    Default hauling boat in below freezing weather

    Hello there,


    I was not able to get my boat (1934 Skipjack - www.homerhostel.com/boat.htm) out of the water yet this autumn. I have been told that removing it when it is below freezing ( I live in Homer Alaska and now the highs are 15-30F and lows are 5-25F) can cause problems with the caulking and/or planking if they freeze before drying. I do not have an area to store it either in the water for the winter or in a garage. I will have to store it outside and with a tarp built over it to shed snow. How can I best prepare it for this:

    Should I try to heat the inside with a small heater for a few weeks (how long necessary?)



    Should I try to tarp the waterline to the trailer and heat the outside too?



    Will this very dry air dry it too fast and be a problem?



    If I don’t use heat and it freezes what will happen?

    Should I heavily salt the inside?



    Do you have any other recommendations on what I should or shouldn’t do???



    I am a novice wooden boat owner. But since buying it 2 months ago have become quite attached to it. It is a fine looking boat, seems to be built solidly, is very tight with very little water coming into the bilge. I have always admired the skills, knowledge, tradition, and art that go into wooden boat construction. Now that I am responsible for one I want to treat it right! Any help with these questions will be much appreciated.



    Thanks,

    Will Schlein

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Location
    Sitka, AK
    Posts
    20,789

    Default

    Will,

    Welcome to the WBF, from another Alaskan (Sitka.)

    Don't know the answers to your questions, but followed your link and must say that's a nice looking boat.

    I have a friend in Homer with a wooden tri-cabin and I thought he left his in the water over the winter. Is that not an option?
    "Simple minds discuss people, Average minds discuss things, and Great minds discuss ideas".

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Alaska
    Posts
    9

    Default freezing cold

    I also live in Homer, I have a 48 foot wooden troller built in the late 30's. I moved it to Wrangell, Ak this year just because of the continue thrawing and freezing. Unless your paint is really stuck to the hull it isn't long before the whole paint job is popping off. What really gets you is water getting behind the planks or under the decks,
    when the temp. drops into the low teens or minus it will make alot of the planks proud. Out at the harbor during February the entire area will freeze, this year already has seen the salt water frozen. You can lose caulking just above the water line. Keep an eye out for that. During the worst part of the winter move the boat over to Soldovia, their harbor seldom freezes.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2000
    Location
    New York, NY USA
    Posts
    938

    Default

    Keeping a wooden boat in salt water over the winter, with an ice eater (on a thermostat) churning the water beneath it works well in the New York area and is very good for the boat. The berth must be protected from moving ice. The best cover is canvas (Sunbrella) on a wood framework. (When it gets wet the fibers swell and keep out the rain; when it drys the fibers contract and allow the cover to breathe. The cover should have vents fore and aft and extend down to the waterline. It's a big deal, but your boat will look great in the Spring and need to be hauled only for a coat of bottom paint - a week at the most. All of the torture of plank shrinkage and fastener stress will be avoided, the bottom will stay tight and you will add years to the boat's life. It's worth doing if there is a protected harbor with the necessary utilities. PS: You should take out the masts and store them in a shed. In the Spring you can check all the fittings and terminals and put two coats of varnish or paint on them on the first warm day.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Posts
    2

    Default thanks for the message Spike

    Hi Spike,
    Thanks for calling about my boat dilema. I tried to call back but they said you wouldn't be working for about a week. I'm still pondering what to do this week and it'd be great to hear any tips you might have. If you could call again that'd be great.

    Will
    235-1463

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Posts
    12

    Default

    Hi will
    I fished the cook inlet in the 1960es had a 29 ft. bristol double ender it was made in 1930 it was a carvel planked converted sailboat all the oldtimers are familer with it. All of those old fishing boats came out of the water every winter In the spring put a lawn sprinkler under it for a few days or hose down the bilge plan on keeping a close watch for a while when you take her out it will be just fine ,
    grampa
    ps dont cover her let it rain on just like she was in the water.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    Belfast and Marshall Cove, Islesboro, Maine
    Posts
    1,766

    Default

    I've kept boats in and out of the water in Maine, which isn't as cold as AK, but pretty close. Boats in the water in the winter are a pain in the neck. they fill with ice. Ice gouges the hull. Ice forms on the outside of the hull. They get buried in snow, then it rains, then it freezes.
    It gets cold, and your bilge pump is entombed in frozen bilge water. Then the boat sinks, and the harbor master is on the phone with nasty questions, and everyone at the diner has a wry remark for your benefit.
    If you slip off the boat trying to deal with ice/snow, etc, you stand a very good chance of drowning, which is not how I want to die.

    I have hauled boats in January when they were quite frozen, and never noticed any damaging effect. The hull isn't likely to dry out much, but then out here wood cultists go to extremes to store their wooden treasures in dank caves of boat sheds, I guess so they know the machinery and electricals will go to hell.

    What exactly is the dire consequence that we're afraid of? The planks will split asunder because they're wet? They'll do that in the water, too, if that's what they're going to do.

    I have always tried to put a boat hauled late inside an unheated shed, or at least in a shady spot. Freeze-thaw is not the friend of fabricated structures, or mountain ranges for that matter.
    I'd pay careful attention to see that the bilges aren't filling with ice, because that can push the garboards off, more freeze-thaw.

    I'd also be tempted to put a fan in place pulling air through the hull on dry days, pretty much to dry out the interior surfaces and prevent mildew. I very much dislike rock salt in bilges, but I'm a Minnesota boy by birth, and think that water should be drinkable, and make a good icecube.

    The only boats I've willingly kept in the water in winter was a 64' wood passenger boat that liked the support, and I couldn't afford the yard bill. Others were lobsterboats and tugs that were in service, and it was always a numbing operation.
    That's my opinion.
    seo

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2000
    Location
    N.E. Connecticut.
    Posts
    3,166

    Default

    I don't know of anything to be concerned of. The best way to dry store a boat is to pull her late & launch her early (less drying). I know of nothing to be concerned about by hauling her after things freeze other than to drain her bilge. (Don't want lots of water in there which could force things around when it freezes, a little bit is ok). ---- Of course all the systems should be properly winterized regardless of whether she is in or out of the water.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2001
    Location
    Grosse Pointe, Michigan, USA
    Posts
    10,783

    Default

    Heard lots of stuff about boat planking freezing, then I noticed winter doesn't seem to bother trees too much.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    Belfast and Marshall Cove, Islesboro, Maine
    Posts
    1,766

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    Not to be endlessly pedantic, but when I took botany courses 35 years ago the profs could not exactly explain why the xylum and Phloem of trees didn't freeze.
    Then a couple times way up north in Minnesota I did hear crunching noises in the forest when it was really cold, like -30, and the people I was working with said it was trees splitting from the cold. They showed me split trees, but I never saw it happen, so, dunno.
    Anyway, I can see how a very ring porous wood like red oak or Phillipine "Mahogany", if it was really soaked, might be split open by freeze-thaw cycling. Not that I've seen it happen, but I think it could.
    seo

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Mar 2001
    Location
    Grosse Pointe, Michigan, USA
    Posts
    10,783

    Default

    I've alway though that trees do freeze, but the walls of the cellular structure are flexible, and it does little harm. Sort of like freezing a sponge. Anyway, when dry storing, we try to pull late so that the planking does freeze quickly, and doesn't dry out as fast.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Location
    Anchorage, AK
    Posts
    7

    Default

    "dont cover her let it rain on just like she was in the water"

    hey gene could you explain the reasoning behind this theory ?

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Stockholm Sweden
    Posts
    155

    Default boat in ice

    Hi there!
    Here in Stockholm Sweden this is a common problem.
    The basic rule is to empty the boat inside as soon as sailing season is over, leaving freee access for the air. Also preferably cover the overside vith tarp arranged so that air have free access while the rain has not. Then lift the boat in time to let it dry "surface dry" before the winter comes. During winter it should be sheltered with a roomy tarp cover that again allows the air to reach every surface. Very important is to shield the boat from sunshine wich even in the winter will dry out the wood.
    In the spring it is essential to do the maintenance work as soon as oneself and the chemicals (paint) can stand the low temperature, and then hastily get the boat in water before it dries too much.
    I myself had the same problem as You once.
    Bought a boat that was frozen into the ice. We had to break up the ice an could luckily get the boat into a heated shelter (garage) for a short period to dry it up. As soon as the surfaces were dry I took it out and put it under the conventional tarp shelter.
    This was a great strain for the wood but worked out quite well.
    Leaving the wooden boat in the water is only done with commercial vessels here.
    Just sharing experiences Bye.
    About fans. I think it´s a good idea to put a fan into the hull when it´s still in the water. Heating however is a little hazardous. It must be carefully monitored because we only want to dry the surface. Good luck!
    Last edited by Per; 12-19-2006 at 06:23 AM.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Stockholm Sweden
    Posts
    155

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    By the way. Have a look at what this guy has to say.
    http://personal.eunet.fi/pp/gsahv/#XX6

    Yet another thing; here in Sweden the thought about leaving the boat without protection against snow and rain during winter seems absurd.
    Last edited by Per; 12-19-2006 at 06:56 AM.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    May 2000
    Location
    Cummington
    Posts
    4,410

    Default

    I don't know what the salinity is at Homer, but sea water freezes below 27F perhaps giving you leeway.

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