Well, it is that time of year again! The saddest day of the year was Monday when the First Light rose out of the water to be winterized and forced into hibernation ’til next April. Again, I ask myself ‘what do I need to do to protect my marine electronics?’ My Garmin GPSMAP 720 Chartplotter, my Standard Horizon GX 1700 VHF, antennas, radar, transducers, cables and everything that is sensitive to extreme cold.
This is the time of the year to upgrade, repair and make notes for next year. There’s nothing worse than getting the boat ready in the Spring to find out you forgot your electronics needed some work or you didn’t save any waypoints and can’t remember what they were! Now is the time to make sure you are ready to go when the Spring season arrives.
Examine all cables and wiring, backup waypoints or other data that is at risk of disappearing over the winter. Remove and store all your sensitive marine electronics. My moto is – ‘if you can remove it – take it out’ and bring it home. Store them in a dry warm place. This is the time to make notes and tape them to the equipment. This way you will remember what you need to do next season and if you need to draw out wiring diagrams or schematics – at least you will know what to do ahead of time.
A couple of other things to remember are to make sure your antennas stay dry and safe during the winter. I leave them on the boat in the down position and duct tape any openings or connectors to keep them dry. Although it is safer and advisable to remove them, I leave all my batteries in the boat – disconnected. I have never had a problem doing this in 38 years and have never had a problem starting engines or generators for the first time in the Spring.
Remember LCD screens are liquid and I don’t want to find out what happens to them when temperatures go up and down from -20 to +5 day and night! Condensation and freezing is another condition to consider if you were to leave your electronic equipment on board in -20 temps.
Some things to remember:
- Clean corrosion off all terminals and connectors
- Protect terminals and connectors with moisture dispelling aerosol, dielectric grease or WD-40
- Check coax connectors for water ingress. Repair as needed and reseal
- Remove electronics to a warm and dry place
Well, the boat is in it’s winter storage mode, so it is time to change my blog to a snowmobile format. I’m looking forward to a wintery, cold and blustery season where I can test equipment like PLB’s, GPS’s, communicators, cameras and other personal equipment and report back to you so you can make your trek a safe one.