By following the tips below you can prepare your boat for winter and protect your investment...There's definitely more to the story than lavishing attention on the fuel system and outboard. The electrical system is also critical to preserving your batteries and getting off to a fast, hassle-free start in the Spring.
Do not overlook the batteries as this could be a costly mistake in terms of dollars and time on the water. Neglected batteries can lose their charge, suffer damage and even freeze up in bitter cold. Batteries lose their ability to shrug off the cold when not fully charged and standard flooded batteries are even more at risk when run down. That's because their sulfuric acid and distilled water won't mix properly, allowing the water to freeze.
The battery's ability to hold a charge can weaken or even totally destroy the battery's ability to hold a charge and reliably dispense power, especially if the case cracks-leading to major replacement costs.
One option is removing the battery and moving it to a heated location such as a shop or basement and, maintaining it with a portable marine battery charger.
Of course, if you have multiple batteries, an easier solution is installing an onboard chargers in the boat, thereby not having to deal with heavy batteries or deal with complex wiring configurations and connections.
I using either a portable or boat-mounted setup, the charger keeps the battery full of life during the winter.allowing the battery to do all it's asked to next Spring from spinning the starter to running your trolling motor, electronics, bilge pump and more..
Remember - inexpensive maintenance goes a long way toward ensuring that you'll enjoy worry-free boating next Spring, without wasting time and money replacing neglected batteries.
Make sure all the cell caps are snugly attached and unplug the charger and wash the battery compartment. Spray Battery Neutralizer all over the tops of the batteries and, be sure to spray it between the batteries, down on the battery racks, and the inside walls of the body panels, if they are metal.
You can use an old paintbrush to scour all the battery tops and sides. Water from a garden hose using plain water, or use a solution of Baking Soda (about 2 tablespoons to 1 gallon of water) to neutralize the acid.
Maintaining the battery terminals on your marine batteries:
Check, clean, tighten and treat all of the battery terminal connections. Be sure the cables are tight to the post as there should be no looseness or sideways movement.
If your battery terminals are badly corroded, you will need to do some serious cleaning.
Check the water levels in each cell and use distilled water to fill. Be sure the electrolyte (water) in each battery cell is above the plates. A lead acid battery keeps much better in the cold than in the heat, as long as the charge stays up.
Don't leave your boat’s batteries plugged into the charger for extended periods of time. After the charge is done, unplug the charger from the batteries and from the wall.
You can plug your Charger in for a few hours once a month to insure a full charge is maintained.
If your boat is going to spend a significant amount of downtime between outings, it is worthwhile disconnecting the battery terminals to retain the battery’s charge and extend its life. Keep in mind that batteries lose charge over time anyway. In the case of engines running sophisticated engine management systems, you should consult with an authorised service centre to ensure you adhere to the factory-recommended procedure when disconnecting or reconnecting your battery. The main thing is that you have enough charge to start your engine.