From the Boathouse: Braving what there is of winter


The recent cold weather has brought boat winterization to the forefront of my mind; however, we live along a portion of the Pacific Ocean where our boating season really never ends.

Let me explain, before I get a flood of reader emails, that we do not need to completely winterize our boats for freezing temperatures along Southern California's coastline. We need to do that only if our boats are stored in our local mountains or high deserts. Keep in mind that the temperature only plays a role of how in-depth you will need to perform your winterization.

Because we do not have any lasting freezing temperatures, you do not have to worry about the expansion of ice. Therefore, you do not need to drain your freshwater tanks, or add antifreeze or blowout the lines to the boat's plumbing. I do recommend that you pump out your holding tanks and add in an odor treatment product.

One of the biggest culprits is mold, and mold loves to grow in dark, damp areas. Therefore, PFDs, wet towels, swim fins, bedding and cushions, basically anything that might grow mold, should be taken off your boat if you do not plan to use your boat. Open all the cabinets and shower doors to allow air circulation and hang dry towels over the tops of the doors to keep them open.

Electric dehumidifiers work well if your boat has shore power, or you can use the dry chemical dehumidifiers, but you will have to empty the containers once in a while.

Now, check the water levels in your batteries and replace the waterpump impellers. To top off or not to top off your fuel tanks is the question, whether 'tis nobler to suffer water condensation in the tanks or stale fuel. I will write more on this topic in an upcoming column; however, fuel docks will have a fuel stabilizer that you can add to see you through to the the beginning of next boating season. Also, I recommend that you empty and dry out any portable fuel tanks. The fuel docks in the harbors can help you to dispose of the fuel properly and safely.

Double-check that all your bilge pumps are working and the scuppers are clear of debris before the winter rains arrive. Give the interior a good cleaning and do not use bleach (chlorine solutions) or petroleum-based solvents to clean the sinks, showers and heads on a boat. These solutions will erode the inner lining of the plastic drain hoses, which are specially coated to help prevent obnoxious odors. Finally, close all the sun shades, exterior hatches, portholes and interior anchor locker access to keep moisture, like fog, from creeping inside the cabin.

Lastly, check your vessel regularly, especially after rain or high winds.


You say Santana, I say Santa Ana

My tip of the week is about the Santana Winds that we experienced this week, and the correct name for these devil winds. I receive a considerable amount of email about these winds from boaters who want to avoid them, especially those moored in Avalon for a weekend.

The actual name of the winds is a toss-up between Santana or Santa Ana, and no one knows the actual origin, but there are many theories as to what or where the winds are named for. You will hear the old-timers call the winds Santanas, but the media uses Santa Anas in its reporting.

We get these winds when a high-pressure system forms to the east of us, as they often do over the Four Corners area, and there's also a low-pressure system off the coast. High pressure flows into low pressure, creating wind; and that's why we get winds from the east.

It's important for boaters to know weather patterns for a safe day of boating.

And don't forget: Tune in to the No. 1 boating radio talk show in the nation, Capt. Mike Whitehead's "Boathouse Radio Show," broadcasting coast-to-coast on the CRN Digital Talk Radio syndicated network at noon Saturdays and replayed at 10 a.m. Sundays.

MIKE WHITEHEAD is a boating columnist for the Daily Pilot. Send marine-related thoughts and story suggestions to or go to

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